Simon, your now the owner of the White Hart in Hadleigh, you run Smugglers Catering and Smugglers Weddings currently. In the past you have run a popular restaurant in the town centre, how did it all start?
Simon: So we started the Smugglers restaurant 15 years ago, and that was our very, very first business and we just served some food. Roz worked front of house and I worked the kitchen, and that was the way it was, we did what we had always done in the past. That worked really well, five years we ran that and then decided with children, that’s not a good time to start a new business. We started the pudding business to make puddings and desserts for hotels and restaurants and retail staff and that worked really well; and out of that [everything] grew, because we couldn’t stay still, the outside catering, lots of weddings, parties, events and functions all of those kinds of things.
You also look after some rare breed animals, where do they fit into your businesses?
Simon: The animals we’ve looked after have become a big part of our lives, we’ve now got a herd of pedigree Herefords, a flock of pedigree Ryland sheep and the facilities to look after pigs, chickens, bees and all kinds of things, we’ve got 30lbs of honey to extract this week, so that’s coming along, we were looking for somewhere to be able to utilise the animals, the animal part of our business and to bring [Smugglers Catering] under our own roof as opposed to a rented unit. So that’s when we started looking at all kinds of things, we looked at smallholdings, small farms etc., and then Roz came home one day and said the White Hart’s for sale. In December we went and had a look thought that would it be really good, and why not, a big barn at the back that we can make into the kitchen for the catering, we could run the pub, we could live at the pub it kind of ticked all the boxes
So that’s it really, that’s what we wanted to do, because we are able to use what we have. The pub works because we can’t use the animals from the catering point of view because there’s too much demand, but from the pub point of view we are able to use what we have. If we kill a lamb we’ve got lamb [cuts], we can put them on the specials and sell them, we can also sell the legs and the shoulders. Then when it’s gone, it’s gone. So it allows us to use the animals, the beef and the lamb and pork as well. We can use everything, in a nutshell, that’s what we are looking to do, we will continue with the outside catering because it works really well,
Typically its not about art on a plate its about good, honest, decent, beautifully cooked food and being able to reduce the waste by using all of the animal. I mean we should be able to use all of the pig, everything from nose to tail, everything but the squeak and that way we pay respect to the pig, to the animals, because we are able to use them all, we are able to use the ox liver. We won’t be serving calve’s liver why would we? Because ox liver is young and creamy and beautiful and just as good.
So in as few words as possible, what can you bring to Suffolk and in particular to Hadleigh?
Simon: Just really good honest food. It’s about technique, it’s not about style over substance, it’s definitely not style over substance.
Tell me Roz, what are your plans? Going forward from this point? Tell me about the animal side of things?
Roz: Well cow-wise we’ve got the Hereford’s and a bull coming for those, and then we’ve got the two [cows] that are mainly for meat produce which are half breed Hereford, they will hopefully produce the meat going into the pub, and the Ryland’s sheep, the rams will go into the pub and all the ewes will go into the flock to hopefully produce more lambs for the pub.
Simon: The Rylands are from Hereford way, so we’ve got two Hereford style breeds from the same county, they produce good wool too.
Roz: Yes they produce very good wool but also very good meat, their fat ratio to meat is very, very good. They are also quick to finish as well, not like the Hebrideans which take two years whereas these are ready in about nine months.
What made you get Hereford’s in particular? Was it purely a business purchase or is it…
Roz: Because they are nice and quiet and the beef is very good, nicely marbled.
And the Ryland’s?
Roz: The Rylands because they are small and I can turn them upside down when I need to and I can catch them because they are slow. Nothing to do with business, I just thought they were pretty and because it’s usually me who has to handle them.
The local breed here is Redpoll and Suffolk Sheep. Suffolk sheep are big and Redpoll are naughty.
You have had last years shearing made into wool, will it be knitted jumpers for Christmas?
Roz: Yes we’ve had some lovely skeins made up which will be available in the pub along with honey, our honey, the White Hart honey, and then eventually, once we’ve got to that stage, honey, pickles and chutney and cured meats, bacon, those kind of things may be available we hope [for sale].
Simon: That’s actually the animals in a nutshell. We needed to find an outlet for the animals.
Roz: That’s it, the amount of animals grew and there is only so much meat that two people can eat so consequently it seemed like a good idea to buy a pub. It works I think, the lambs are growing nicely, all naturally fed, no cake and no hard food.
You keep a stock of turkeys and chickens as well don’t you? Will it be free range turkey Christmas dinner?
Simon: Yes we are experimenting with turkeys, they are laying beautifully and if they are fertile, and we can get them to sit long enough, then we will but that’s still in its infancy really. It’s the cows and the sheep and the bees [that] are ongoing. Pigs will be intermittent and the turkeys are still an experiment. but they will be good because they will be Norfolk types. They will be really good proper turkeys not the white eating machines but proper turkeys. So we have a stag and four hens at the moment and also chickens which produce eggs which we don’t use, but just a small flock for fun.