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Farm shop gets a taste of success


By Ben Comber


Gog MaGog Hills Farm Shop, six Great Taste Awards in 2016 from left Charles Bradford - Managing Director, Caron Mexome - Hospitality Manager, Miles Nicholas - Head Butcher and ‘President of the Cambridge and District Master Butchers Association’, Lydia Hodge - Delicatessen and Grocery Manager, Marcus Bradford - Operations Director. Picture: Keith Heppell
Gog MaGog Hills Farm Shop, six Great Taste Awards in 2016 from left Charles Bradford - Managing Director, Caron Mexome - Hospitality Manager, Miles Nicholas - Head Butcher and ‘President of the Cambridge and District Master Butchers Association’, Lydia Hodge - Delicatessen and Grocery Manager, Marcus Bradford - Operations Director. Picture: Keith Heppell

Six food industry gongs for The Gog.

Gog MaGog Hills Farm Shop, six Great Taste Awards in 2016. Picture: Keith Heppell
Gog MaGog Hills Farm Shop, six Great Taste Awards in 2016. Picture: Keith Heppell

The Great Taste Awards are known in the industry as the Oscars of the food world. More than 400 experts - chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and consumers - judge around 10,000 products, all vying for one of food's top accolades. Only about a third make the cut.

So when they found out that six of their homemade products had been given the coveted star this year, the staff at The Gog at Shelford Bottom were understandably over the moon. They won their first Great Taste Award over 10 years ago, but this year's haul pushes their total up

an impressive 60 per cent.

Managing director Charles Bradford said:"It's been amazing, incredible actually. We're obviously doing a few things right!"

The Gogs picked up six awards for:

Ham, Cheese, Leek and Potato Pasty

Beef and Bone Marrow Burger

Vegan Flapjack with Mixed Berry Jam

Red Pepper Hummus

Parmesan Biscuits

Cambridge Haslet

Charles' great grandfather started working the land on the farm almost 100 years ago, and the business has stayed in the family ever since. The Gog was renamed this year, and although it's still the same family-run business that it's been for over a decade this year's trove of awards shows that it's on its way to becoming a national brand.

So how do they do it?

Marcus Bradford, operations director and brother of Charles, said:"We say to each department, what's your favourite thing? What would you put forward? And after that we've got a list of about 20 or 30 things."

Then begins the hard part.

Gog MaGog Hills Farm Shop, six Great Taste Awards in 2016. Picture: Keith Heppell
Gog MaGog Hills Farm Shop, six Great Taste Awards in 2016. Picture: Keith Heppell

Marcus continued:"As much as they've all got potential we have to be realistic, we can't send that many, so we narrow it down to a few. It's a good problem to have."

Charles expanded:"This is where we've changed massively as a business over the past few years, by passing it over to the respective teams and getting everyone much more involved. We talk about a career in food as opposed to working at a food shop."

The Gog take on a large team of youngsters and focus on offering apprenticeships. Through this they have now developed an experienced and passionate team.

Head butcher Miles Nicholas, who was also appointed president of the Cambridge and District Master Butchers' Association this year, said:"Our team really get it. It's about bringing back traditional values. It is a family business, and it's like working with someone at your house. We're at Charles and Marcus' house."

Contact

The Gog Farm Shop

Heath Farm

Shelford Bottom

thegog.com

Thanks to Miles, The Gog has had two finalists in the Young Butcher of the Year awards. He mixes traditional techniques with all the mod-cons to ensure they stay ahead of trends, and it has paid off in the form of a nomination for this year's Butcher's Shop of the Year.

Charles said:"A lot of people know us as a cafe - the bit they don't know is where the real genius stuff is happening, which is in the butchers and the delicatessen.

"This is the bit that's overlooked and one of the issues that we have communicating is to come and try it. With this style of business people might think straight away that it's expensive, it's too much, and the word value has been polluted by supermarkets, where value means 'cheap and nasty', but actually true value is great value for money.

"And it's all about great taste, and I think that's something that gets forgotten about. People talk about fine food and think it's pricey, inaccessible, a bit snooty, but that's rubbish. There's no need to feel intimidated."

So can the team possibly improve on this year? Tara Davies, Young Butcher of the Year finalist in 2014, has the team excited for next year by creating a venison and smoked bacon burger that's bringing people in for more than a butcher's hook.



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