Hungerford Meat Co set themselves apart with charcuterie offering

Former chef Michael Robinson is behind Hungerford Meat Co in Branxton.
Former chef Michael Robinson is behind Hungerford Meat Co in Branxton.

A former international chef is returning a butcher shop to its heritage and gaining a cult following of sorts.

Michael Robinson purchased the Branxton Quality Meats in the NSW Hunter Valley almost three years ago and returned the heritage listed building, which still has an original smoke house, back to its namesake, Hungerford Meat Co.

Having worked as a chef in Sydney for nearly 20 years, along with stints in London and America, Mr Robinson had always worked with meat but wanted to establish a butcher shop that was built on traditional practices.

"I think what butchers do is an amazing thing, I've always been intrigued by it," he said.

A pickled and pressed tongue from a nine-year-old Jersey.

A pickled and pressed tongue from a nine-year-old Jersey.

"I've had a very keen interest in it for a long time and I think the way they used to do it is amazing and makes you think, why did we stray away from it when it was going so well?"

Mr Robinson now employs two butchers, an apprentice butcher and two other staff. He offers everything from 60-day aged duck ham to a pickled and pressed tongue from a nine-year-old Jersey.

All of their products are sourced from as many local producers including beef, sheep and pork, particularly focusing on heritage breeds.

"We love heritage breeds so Berkshire pigs," Mr Robinson said.

60 day aged duck ham.

60 day aged duck ham.

"Those things I guess the supermarket faded them out a lot but we are trying to celebrate those."

It's all part of his desire to slow down the eating process, given so many consumers have become accustomed to ready-to-eat offerings.

"Not just only slowing the process down but thinking about what you are eating and consuming the whole animal," Mr Robinson said.

"Not so much going to Woolworths and seeing a piece of scotch fillet that's cut and because you are not thinking of anything you go great, steak.

"It's getting people to think about using the whole animal and trying different things. A lot of people don't know there is only so many scotch fillet in a cow and a lot of other meat that needs to be consumed as well."

Michael Robinson, Hungerford Meat Co.

Michael Robinson, Hungerford Meat Co.

Mr Robinson said there was so much more to the meat off cuts than being made into sausages, like most butcheries do.

"It's very common practice for a lot of butchers to say, 'That's just going to go into sausage'," he said.

"While sausages are great, I think a lot of things, like skirt steak, they are starting to gain a bit more popularity now."

"The biggest thing for us is to have a point of difference from every other butcher shop and what you can get in the supermarkets. It's hard to compete with supermarkets price wise so we give them something else they are not going to get in the supermarket."

It's been an adjustment for their customers too.

"We have always had a very loyal following and it's growing all the time as word of mouth gets around there," he said.

"I think at first the biggest concern, without getting told, I think people thought, he is not a butcher, what is he doing here? A lot of people thinking, he is not going to know what he is doing, but overtime people are definitely really loving what they are seeing.

"The following we have for those products is fantastic."