Butcher Craig Bell is single – but he’s ‘not looking to meet.’
He’s married to his work and in the run up to St Valentine’s Day he’s too busy to think about carving out a love life.
“We’re rushed off our feet. Everyone wants top-quality steak to serve up as a treat for a Valentine dinner,” says the 29-year-old who bought the famed Roney’s of Sheffield butcher’s shop on Sharrow Vale Road last autumn when it went into receivership.
Craig, just 29, had been the manager there for a year when the opportunity to buy his own business arose, a move which saved the jobs of his four colleagues.
Having his own joint had been the dream since he was 13 and landed a Saturday job with the local butcher’s in Dodworth.
“I loved it. I spent as much time as I could there. I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I used to bunk off school and head to the shop; my mum always knew where to find me.
“On Monday and Thursday nights, while my mates were off playing football, I’d be learning how to make sausages and pies.”
Craig got a full-time job there at 16 and did NVQ qualifications. At 18 he went to work for the Kwiksave group, for five years working at its supermarkets all over Yorkshire. Then it was to Stocksbridge butchers John Crawshaw’s Meadowhall shop before heading to Paul Schofield’s quality butcher’s in Penistone.
He went to work at Roney’s, the long-established butcher’s renowned for its high quality, local supplied organic meat and free-range poultry in 2011 and when owner Adrian Rubenstein hit financial problems Craig bought it off the receiver’s. He’s keeping costs down by paying himself the same £7 hourly rate as his staff.
“A lot of the regulars probably don’t realise I’m the new owner,” he says. “We’re getting lots of new customers now, though, as a result of the ready-meals horse-meat scandal; people realise they can trust a local butcher.
“I’m a stickler for quality, I source the best local organic produce, buy by the carcass and age the beef to 28 days,” he says. “Only the best goes into our pies, which we make on the premises to the methods I learned at 13.”
But while many a man loves a pie, it’s clearly steaks that couples are preparing to celebrate on Valentine’s night with.
Says Craig: “Sirloins, fillets, rib-eyes and T-bones are selling well. Though we find a lot of younger customers asking for advice on how to cook them, we’re always happy to give tips and recipes.”
Craig’s tip for cooking the perfect steak
Leave the frying pan in the cupboard and ignore the grill; instead, switch on the oven.
Lay your steak in a non-stick oven tray and add a little water.
Cover the tray tightly with foil and then cook at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes for rare steaks and up to 50 minutes for medium to well-done steaks.
“You’re cooking without extra fat and you’re keeping all the flavour and moisture in the meat,” says Craig.
“People complain that all too often they end up with tough, tasteless steak but usually it’s the way they cook it that’s to blame. Grilling and frying can easily dry the meat out.”