From Saturday boy to master butcher
Customers at the White Rabbit café know that we never cut corners when it comes to crafting delicious snacks. They can rely on us to ensure each ingredient in every dish is chosen carefully for its quality and traceability.
So it seemed only natural to source our meat from one of the most prominent local butchers in the region, Brian Fields, who runs the hugely popular butcher’s shop Fields of Anlaby and also its neighbouring deli and café in the centre of Anlaby.
Here we chat with Brian about his lifelong passion for his trade.
Responding to customer needs
It all started back in the day when Brian was a callow 13-year-old lad, on the hunt for a Saturday job. “It was thanks to my mum really – she kept sending me off to our local butcher’s shop on Beverley Road in Hull to pester them for a job, until they eventually gave in said yes,” Brian explained. “I worked there every night after school as well as on Saturdays. When I turned 16 they offered to train me as a butcher, so that’s how it all began.”
Very few people turn their first Saturday job into a profession, but Brian has come a long way since then and now can boast of being awarded the title of ‘Britain’s Best Butcher Shop’ in 2010 and being the only local member of the prestigious Q Guild of butchers. His huge selection of fresh meat includes award-winning products, such as his Cumberland sausage and rump steak, both of which took top spots at this year’s Q Guild BBQ National awards. Brian explained: “It’s not just a big slice of rump as would traditionally be cut, we use a modern technique called seam butchery were we follow the natural seams between the muscles then cut them individually across the grain. This makes them a lot more tender compared with the traditional cut which goes with the grain, making it chewier.”
Brian puts his success down to the ability to diversify and keep ahead of the trends. He said: “Things have changed since I launched the shop in 1994, it’s essential to develop and adapt with your customers. Eating habits have evolved, overseas cuisine now has a major influence and people are more confident about being adventurous with their food, trying new dishes and different flavours.”
Fields of Anlaby offer not just the traditional butcher shop cuts of meat but also what Brian calls ‘meal solution’ products, such as stuffed and glazed chicken breasts and beef stroganoff stir fry. “These are fresh, healthy, nutritious meals that are so quick and easy to cook, and we also sell side dishes to complement them,” Brian said. “People have busy lives, many are parents who work full-time, and this gives them convenience without sacrificing quality.”
Some of Brian’s varied and loyal customer base are millennials. Brian said: “Younger customers might not have cooking skills and knowledge, but we can help them put together easy nutritious meals and give them a guide on how to cook them.” The shop’s staff are all trained in helping customers make meal choices, and can offer advice on how to cook the products. “Our friendly team are always on hand to help and advise,” Brian added. “There’s a lot of choice but there’s no need to feel daunted in our shop.”
Focus on quality
White Rabbit and Fields of Anlaby are both small independents who share a desire to offer high quality, home-made goods using ethically sourced ingredients. For Brian, quality is the top priority when sourcing meat and it is important to him that the animals are well cared for. He specialises in free range and rare breeds and buys direct from a number of independent farmers in the region.
Ed Hawkes, White Rabbit’s Business Manager, said: “We chose the Fields ‘Anlaby Animal’ sausage for our sausage bruschetta, it’s an amazing spicy creation. We thinly slice the sausage and pair it with our home-made rye bread and local roast veg, with a side salad drizzled with our chocolate vinaigrette. It’s just wonderful!
“We also use Fields bacon in our sweet and savoury bacon brownies. We often just pop into the store and see what they have that would work for our lunch specials, such as our chicken and bacon club bruschetta and carpaccio beef bruschetta. Visiting the shop is always an inspirational experience.”
Looking to the future
Brian isn’t resting on his laurels – he has built a ‘dry ageing room’ to mature his steak, the Fields team are now sporting a smart new uniform, and he’s all set to launch a fabulous new website. The special room combines humidity control and chilling and features a wall built from pink Himalayan salt blocks to control moisture and bacteria, ultimately allowing the beef to age longer and develop an even richer, fuller flavour.
He also hopes to attract more young people into the trade as a career, and would be happy to mentor local butchers of the future. “I am always on lookout for talented butchers or trainees with ambition, who are looking to make a future in the butchery trade,” he said.
To find out more about Fields of Anlaby, visit www.fieldsofanlaby.co.uk or better still, go for a browse at the shop in Hull Road, Anlaby – you won’t be disappointed!
The White Rabbit Chocolatiers café is open 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 4pm on Sunday.