Hamish Champ: Show 'em how it's done

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Thai cuisine

My local butcher has come up with an ingenious revenue-generating scheme. For 85 quid he will spend an hour or two taking you through the fine art of...

My local butcher has come up with an ingenious revenue-generating scheme. For 85 quid he will spend an hour or two taking you through the fine art of butchery.

"Don't know your lamb's leg from a chump end?" enquires the finely-crafted 'A'-board outside his establishment in Greenwich, South London. "Then sign up for our masterclass today!"

The last one was apparently sold out and the likelihood is the forthcoming one will be too. People clearly want to know how to bone certain joints of meat and be able to identify the cuts as they come off the animal. I know I do.

Of course there are plenty of textbooks showing you how to do this but nothing beats actually being shown the whys and wherefores by an expert.

I'll admit to a guilty pleasure, namely that I have Jamie Oliver's '30 Minute Meals' cookbook - and fab it is too - but I get much, much more out of watching him cooking the stuff, albeit on TV.

"What the hell has all this got to do with pubs Hamish?" I hear some of you cry. And it's a good question.

Well, a while back I had a meeting planned with Rufus Hall, the chief executive of managed pub operator the Orchid Group, and rather than the usual tête-à-tête in his office he suggested having a catch-up while putting together a Thai curry in the kitchens of one of his food-led emporia.

Being a wannabe chef I jumped at the chance, and before I knew it we were discussing margins and other industry whatnot while shredding Thai basil and stirring slices of chicken breast into the coconut milk.

The experience was a double whammy: I got up to date with the group and I learned how to cook a Thai curry by watching a trained chef before having a go myself.

I realise publicans have plenty on their plates already and while some do this sort of thing already for many the prospect of undertaking cookery schools or tours round their cellars with a bit of the ol' tapping and spiling, etc, followed by beer tastings, is probably a step too far.

But people do like finding out how things with which they are hugely familiar work or are put together. For example, did anyone see the programme the other night about how matches are made? Amazing. (Do you need to lie down Hamish? Ed.)

And it's easy to take for granted a place like a pub, when in fact your customers only see the bar, the toilets and the car park.

If you happen to run a micro-brewery in your pub, for example, showing how that worked would have them lining up, surely?

In the current economic environment broadening one's appeal wherever possible has got to be the way forward.


Punch Taverns reveals the results of its much anticipated strategy review tomorrow, and then we have the Budget on Wednesday.

If nothing else is certain at least we know this week isn't going to be dull...

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