Every Wednesday at 1pm, a new group of novices don white coats and gather round the iconic wooden block at Allens of Mayfair for a butchery masterclass...
Every Wednesday at 1pm, a new group of novices don white coats and gather round the iconic wooden block at Allens of Mayfair for a butchery masterclass. Located in the centre of the shop – which has lost none of its Victorian charm – the great hexagonal block is now twenty-years-old (the last one lasted 44 years and was then bought by Andrew Lloyd Webber for his castle).
Allens on Mount Street is London’s oldest butcher shop, and supplier to many of the city’s best restaurants and hotels, including the Connaught, Claridge’s, The Dorchester, The Berkeley and The Savoy. It is a favourite amongst chefs, and they are famous for their exceptionally high quality meat and poultry, including Church View English Angus beef, which you can only buy from them, and cornfed chickens from their farm in the North of France. Also known for their dramatic displays, on the day we visit there are nigh on one hundred turkeys with their feathers still on, hanging from the ceiling around the shop.
Taught by manager Michael Gale (aka Welsh Michael), the classes last an hour and a half and give you a hands-on introduction to the art and craft of cutting meat like a pro. Our first assignment is to carve up a chicken. Easy as it looks when Gale demonstrates, it proves difficult at first to cut through at the right points, but after a few false starts and a couple of beginners’ mistakes, we eventually end up with the constituent parts of a chicken in front of us. We then move on to oxtail, which is perfect for slow-cooked stews, and our final task is to prepare a rack of lamb. What takes a professional butcher about five minutes to do, takes us over half an hour of concentrated effort, so it’s rewarding when we finally finish.
Throughout the class a constant stream of customers come through to collect their meat orders, which is a testament to Allens’ reputation as one of London’s best butcher shops. It is certainly the most beautiful place you’re likely to find for learning about butchery. A voucher for someone you love would also make a special (bloody) Valentine’s gift. Costing £100, these very popular courses are excellent value, as you keep what you cut and it’s some of the finest meat you could possibly cook at home.
A butchery masterclass at Allens of Mayfair takes place every Wednesday at 1pm.