CORNWALL'S FOOD HEROES: THE BEST BUTCHER

PUBLISHED: 15:49 05 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:07 30 August 2017

Francis Linn has worked as a butcher for more than 30 years - and today he shares his skills across Cornwall through Etherington's Butchery Academy

Francis Linn is senior instructor at Brian Etherington's Butchery Academy, where he teaches a wide range of butchery courses, from sausage making and all types of meat. 'After a morning of butchery and an afternoon of sausage making, the sense of achievement felt by the students when holding their freshly linked sausage is priceless,' he says. 'This is also quite nostalgic for me considering my first day at work involved me learning to link sausages.'

Who has been your greatest influence on your journey to becoming a butcher?

'I would say two elderly gentlemen I worked under as a young apprentice - Mr Cliff Duxbury and Mr Jim O'Hara. Both butchers were extremely talented and incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge of the trade with me of which they had over 90 years of experience between them.'

How important is locally-reared produce to you?

'Very important. At Etherington's our guiding principle is to source high quality meats from locally reared and rare breed animals wherever possible. Sourcing locally produced meat means transportation is better for the animal, traceability is made easier and that as a company we can also contribute to the local economy.'

Which butchery skill do you most enjoy teaching?

'My favourite skill that I enjoy teaching my students, in the academy, is the 'butcher's knot'. The correct procedure for this knot is to have all knots aligned and twined an equal distance from each other, allowing the customer to see that great care and pride has been taken in the preparation of the joint. This is such an important skill to learn particularly for display purposes within the butcher's cabinet.'

What cut of meat do you think is the most versatile?

The humble shoulder of pork is such a versatile cut and can be used in a range of ways including joints, sausage meat, shoulder chops, spare ribs and a whole lot more.'

What was your most memorable butchery lesson that you have given?

'I once gave a lesson to a lady who was nine months pregnant and whose due date was actually on the day of the course. She did fantastically well, although there were no hot water and towels needed, the butcher's apron was a bit of a tight fit!'

Why did you become a butcher?

'As a young lad I used to work in my grandfather's butchers shop each Saturday, so it seemed a natural step once leaving school to carry on the family tradition... and I have not looked back since.'

What is your food heaven?

'My food heaven has always been the delicious dish of a bistecca di fiorentina served on an oak platter with fresh mixed salad and a sun kissed glass of vino rosso... yum!'

What is your idea of food hell?

'My idea of food hell would be not being able to buy good local produce and to have to eat wet salad out of a bag.'

What's going to be big in 2014?

'Collar of pork has become increasingly popular this year, but I would say "try something even more different"! Something like pig cheek bacon or cured pig cheeks that have been sliced by hand by the butcher to the customer's specification - then all they have to do is grill them... beautiful!'

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