Having missed owner Michael Madigan on my initial visit to Kitchen Cru he extended an invitation for me to call in for a quick chat on my return North. As I stepped into the kitchen, the first person I saw was Mark from Tails and Trotters who I’d met two weeks previously at the PSU Farmers Market. He was busy at work trimming some cuts, he gave me a tour of their produce, and showed me a monster pancetta which was ageing.
Michael gave me a great insight into the Portland food scene – and a little background. When he moved to the area some 20+ years ago, the farm to fork culture was in its infancy. A handful of quality restaurants were breaking through, and young chefs who passed through those kitchens moved on to start a movement of their own. Bit by bit Portland’s name as a foodie capital grew to what it is today.
Michael introduced me to one of his clients: Sara from Pieku, I’d tasted some of her treats a few weeks back at Salt and Straw. She uses lard rendered by Tails and Trotters at the same facility for her pie crusts – a perfect example of collaborative working. I think there’s a real need back in the UK for facilities like KitchenCru. Not only do they provide a space for producers to work but they also facilitate a space to grow a food community. I currently use the services of the Food Centre Wales for my production development and processing, KitchenCru fits a different niche – in the context of meat production it’s more about direct sales, starting small, selling at farmers markets and providing a space to start a business. It also provides those with no experience of the food industry with an introduction, people like me, struggling in the dark slightly 12 months ago! I’ll be passing on Michael’s details to some of the bods back home (you know who you are King of Agri Food), fingers crossed we can get something going, and if not perhaps further down the line I might think of establishing something similar myself.