Cultjar meets - Paul Burton; Westcombe Charcuterie
We spoke to Paul Burton from Westcombe Charcuterie about his experience of setting up a business in Somerset, his inspirations and the joys of fermented foods.
From a cheffing and butchery background, Paul started his career in Bristol before a spell running a restaurant just across the water from the Isle of Mull, off the coast of Scotland, where the irregular deliveries and sporadic nature of the restaurant bookings encouraged him to think outside the box when it came to how to serve and preserve food in a way that increased the options on the menu, as well as the shelf life of the limited fresh produce. This led to an interest in pates, terrines, confit and sausages. Pre smartphones Paul used books as well as trial and error to perfect these techniques, and after moving back to England he ran charcuterie workshops, sharing his knowledge with the public, as well as those in the industry.
Soon, family life dictated a desire for a more stable role and Paul looked around for businesses who he admired and who shared his ethos, noticing the job at Westcombe Dairy, a family run cheese business located in the beautiful rolling hills of Somerset, to run their on-site cheese shop - which, incidentally, stocks a range of Cultjar!
This relationship blossomed and after a meeting of minds, Westcombe Charcuterie was born, now employing two members of staff, they supply many local and further afield businesses with salamis and cured hams. Like Cultjar, Paul draws inspiration from far and wide including a French style saucisson in the range, as well as a Menorcan Sobrasada, a soft, spreadable sausage - Paul’s mother was brought up in the Balearic islands so this felt like a natural fit.
Wanting to add a intrinsically ‘local’ variety of salami to the offering, Paul created Pomona, inspired by morning Autumnal walks through the apple orchards with a whiff of wood smoke in the air, this sausage uses these quintessential Somerset flavours to make something rather special, bridging the gap between techniques from abroad with flavours from much closer to home.
Westcombe Charcuterie are tied to the location within which they work in a number of ways, a key one being that instead of using all pork meat, as most salamis do, they use pork combined with veal, a by product of Westcombe’s Dairy herd that means animals are used which would otherwise not be, a more sustainable approach to farming. Paul recognises that being a small food business doesn’t mean that you can’t still be pioneering and make positive changes within the food industry and improve the way food is produced and he is hopeful for more changes in the right direction, even though there is a long way to go. Plans for the future of Westcombe Charcuterie include product development to use even more of the animal so less and less is wasted, possibly in the shape of pates or cooked sausages. The pork comes from Gothelney Farm, a pioneering regenerative Somerset based business, who produce grain alongside the pigs.
As for eating charcuterie at home, his three children love it, but paradoxically he finds that as a family they eat smaller quantities of meat, but regularly - for example, a few slices of salami from a shared platter, and cook recipes such as carbonara where the meat is used almost as a seasoning, rather than the main event.
And the Cultjar that Paul uses most often to compliment his cured meats? Giardiniera, Italian style pickled vegetables, finding the fresh, sweet and sour nature of it sits nicely alongside the meats, cheese and Landrace sourdough all now produced on site at Westcombe. A true Somerset success story.
For more information go to: https://westcombedairy.com/charcuterie
And follow Paul on Instagram for more from behind the scenes.