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Interview with Jamie Willows: Owner of Ipswich’s Rose House Butchery.

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Interview with Jamie Willows: Owner of Ipswich’s Rose House Butchery.

It’s your annual family barbecue, your traditional roast on a Sunday, a wedding reception, a dinner party or simply your Friday night spaghetti-and-meatballs-for-one dinner, and where have you bought your meat from? Did you go to the large corporate supermarket to buy your imported, vacuum-sealed produce? Or did you head to the locally sourced, ethically sound, independent butchers down the road?

Many people have the misconception that such artisan butchers are aimed at wealthy, middle class folk who have the disposable income to spend on such luxuries. But what if I was to tell you that the meat at The Rose House Butchery, in the heart of Ipswich indie scene, was the same price, if not cheaper, than many of the major supermarkets!

The meat is sourced from providers in the county meaning little environmental damage, it’s completely free range so you’ll not be digesting any creepy hormones that are sometimes pumped into mass produced meat, you’ll be supporting a local business in your town and you’ll walk away enthused about creating your next dish by chatting to the business owner; Jamie Willows.

Still not convinced? This business goes the extra mile when it comes to customer service and one look at their website will confirm the passion for good food that The Rose House Butchery represents. It’s a treasure trove of interesting blog posts, recipe ideas, information on upcoming events and details of the plenty of courses that they run (a perfect Xmas prezzie for your foodie friends FYI).

I had a quick chat with Jamie to discuss his past, his business and his vision for the future:

You have been a passionate butcher since the age of 13! Could you tell us how you initially got into the trade and what has fuelled you to continue pursuing it as a career?

I first started working in a butchery just to earn some pocket money when I was young.  I found I had a real passion for the industry and was fortunate to be taught and mentored by some fantastic, traditional butchers. 

I later became Butchery Manager of a High Street store in Kent, but found I was becoming disillusioned with the commercial side of the business, which fuelled by passion for rare and native breeds.

How has the market changed since you began your career all those years ago?

The market has changed significantly throughout my career.  At one point in the 1990’s, I think High Street butchers were suffering at an alarming rate, due to the growth of large supermarkets.

Over the last 10 years or so, there has been growth in popularity for traditional butchery, as people become more aware of where their food comes from and animal welfare.  With the rise of celebrity chefs, people are looking for better and more fashionable cuts of meat.

Can you tell us a little bit about the produce that you have on offer at The Rose House Butchery? Where is it sourced from and how do you decide what meats you’ll have on offer each week?

All our meat is rare and native traditional breeds, sourced from local Suffolk farmers including Baylham House Farm and Breckland Larder.  You can be sure that all of the meat sold at Rose House Butchery exceeds the highest welfare standards, as well as being sourced as locally as possible.  All of our products (such as our sausages) are handmade on site, using old fashioned artisan methods. 

The meat we have on offer each week largely depends on the season.  We work with a number of local game keepers, and quite frequently have a variety of more unusual meat available.  Each week we offer 10% off any purchase on a Tuesday, and we also run a variety of different deals announced via our social media channels each week.

Do you believe that, with so much more information available to consumers in recent times, we are becoming more conscious of making ethical food choices? Is this reflected in your customers? Are you noticing a wider demographic visiting your shop?

We have a diverse range of customers covering a wide demographic, including students, professionals, families and pensioners.  We are definitely seeing more of a trend of younger foodies, who are more conscious of where their food has originated.  Rose House Butchery is all about pride, passion and provenance, so we’re always happy to tell customers about where our meat is sourced from.

You supply meat to a number of local businesses, including IP1 favourite; Pump and Grind. Do you think it’s important to support other local, independent businesses in Ipswich? 

Yes of course!  It is vitally important to support other local businesses.  Working in partnership with other customer focused organisations has helped increase our customer range.  We regularly work with the rest of the Saints community and participate in the St Peters Street Markets, as well as supplying cooked food for the Thomas Wolsey on special event days.

Your shop is located in a beautiful 16th Century stable block in the heart of The Saints area of the town. Do you think it has helped your business being surrounded by a great community of local indies?

St Peters Street is a traditional street with great businesses and heritage and Rose House Butchery is proud to have brought back a local, traditional butchery to the street.  The local independent retailers have significantly helped to attract retail customers to the area, and this can only help our business.  It’s great to be part of a business community that supports each other.

What is your vision for The Rose House Butchery in the future? 

Rose House Butchery is looking to expand into hot street food treats, bringing fire, meat and delicious food to Ipswich.  We also have a number of exciting new ventures and partnerships in the mix to add further value to our customers and trade. 

To keep up to date, follow us on Facebook (RoseHouseButchery) or Twitter (@RHButchery)


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