Kittows of Fowey first opened in 1973 and is a local institution. Butcher Richard Kittow has been serving quality, own reared meats to the local community and visitors to Fowey for over four decades, and supplies us with much of the meat you see featured on our menus here at The Old Quay House. Richard very kindly agreed to take some time out of his day and answer a few questions:
How did you become a butcher?
I wasn’t that academic at school and university wasn’t an option for me. A week after finishing school aged 15, I started work at a shop in Tywardreath and I stayed there for nine months learning the meat trade. By the time I was 16 I had my slaughterman’s licence, and by 17 I was working on my dad’s meat van. I went on to have shops in Polkerris and Tywardreath, but Fowey was always my main aim. Fowey has been great to us, there’s no two ways about it.
How has Fowey changed over the years you’ve been here?
Fowey has changed; when we first opened there were no visitors coming to Fowey. We didn’t have the hotels or restaurants that are here today. The only places selling a bit of food were The King of Prussia or The Ship Inn. Summer would be busy but it would be quiet for the rest of the year. It’s a different story now, with the town staying open all year round.
Do you have a favourite type or cut of meat?
My favourite cut changes and depends on the time of year. My best piece of roast beef ever – you don’t see it much now, is a tag end. It comes from the hind quarter, out of the top side of a leg of beef. The closer you get to the bone, the sweeter the meat. Recently, I found a hog’s pudding recipe that my dad had used in 1946. It took us three weeks to get the batch right using it, but it’s absolutely fantastic. To me, it’s a classic!
Do you enjoy cooking?
I started cooking when I was about eight years old. My first attempt at cooking without supervision was custard and I burned it all over the Aga. In my teens. my dad bought me a second hand cooker and we would make steak and onions. I learnt a bit then, and enjoy cooking to this day. I think the most important thing is to cook what you like, how you like.
Is there an art to being a butcher?
People often think a bit of steak is a bit of steak, but it’s not. There’s a lot to the meat trade. It depends on if you’ve got a male animal or a female, what type of grass you’re on, the time of the year, and the condition of the animal – lean, fat, just come off the grass. Winter time is a different thing again. It’s a balancing act to get beef right. It’s the same for a fishmonger, a cheesemonger or a wine merchant. You’ve just got to know your product, and that’s why we are still here.
What’s the best way to become a butcher today?
An apprenticeship. You have to start from the basics: get your beef in, break your beef down and start by learning to bone your beef. By learning and boning you can see the quality. You don’t start off just serving fillet steak all the time. You’ve got to start from the shop floor and work your way up.
Kittows of Fowey is open 8.30 – 4pm, Monday to Saturday. 1 – 3 South Street, Fowey PL23 1AR.