Brompton by Sawdon
On his quest for the perfect pork pie, food writer Tom Parker-Bowles wrote of his trip to Glaves ‘550 miles for a pork pie! And knowing what I know now, I’d travel twice that distance for just one more bite.’ Testimonies don’t come much more glowing than that.
This family-run, multi-award-winning butcher’s shop was founded in 1973 by Doreen and Brian Glaves and has passed to the next generation – today, brothers James and Antony, and James’ wife Hazel run the business; James looks after the shop and pie production while Antony runs the farm where all their meat comes from. During that first week of trading in 1973, they slaughtered ‘1 beast, 3 lambs and 2 pigs.’ The business grew rapidly – today the numbers are 15 cattle, 50 sheep and 20 pigs weekly, almost all of which are sold over the counter, the rest going to local pubs and restaurants.
‘I was born into it’ says James, resplendent in his striped apron and, appropriately, pork pie hat. ‘At 14 I was stacking shelves then at 16, I came here to work before going to Thomas Danby College in Leeds to learn butchering, costing and meat management.’ After finishing college he returned to the shop and bought cattle at the markets with his father. ‘I was thrown in at the deep end because the shop was really busy! We slaughtered a lot of animals in the 80s because there were a lot more independent butchers who we supplied with meat. But that all changed in the 90s which is when we started to diversify into pies. Antony made the first batch and they flew off the shelves.’
Takeaway meals soon followed; alongside traditional cottage pies, the koftas, meat balls and stir-fries have proved popular. ‘I start work at 5.30 every morning ready for our early customers who come in for their breakfast coffee and bacon sandwiches – there’s a queue out of the door. We also supply local factories and businesses with pies for their first break. It’s non-stop! But despite the hours, I wouldn’t do anything else. I like to do the job right – start to finish.’
There’s more than pies being made; a 20-strong workforce produce sausages, burgers and home-cured ham, and the huge cold cabinet in the handsome shop is bursting with fresh cuts of meat – legs of lamb, ribs of beef and bellies of pork along with home-made charcuterie, including brawn, pate and black pudding.
And the pie recipe? According to Parker-Bowles ‘There’s a twist of pepper, a tang of the farmyard and a good whack of salt.’ But James will only be pushed so far. ‘It’s a bit of a family secret. But I will tell you there’s a lot of love and care goes into them! We’re very proud that our products are 100% Yorkshire, from the animals reared on our farm down the road to the eggs, bread and dairy we sell in the shop. No air miles here!’