Where cutting edge – meets tradition

With the ever-changing demands of food-savvy consumers, development chefs like Feeney cannot rest on their laurels and are constantly researching the latest cooking techniques and the “smartest” equipment we have ever seen for both small and large-scale food production. Along with high tech innovation in equipment and cooking techniques it’s easy to forget food manufacturers even in the 60’s and 70’s were getting busy in the kitchen with new cooking methods. Who can remember cod in parsley sauce created by one of the biggest industry food giants? Now things have moved on, virtually the same technique is applied to foods, we now all know this method as Sous Vide Cookery. But let’s not forget the simplicity required – a pan, water, and a plastic pouch! It just goes to show that looking back to how we used to do things in the past isn’t always a bad idea! This leads us on to another priceless piece of equipment – the humble chopping block!

Even with all the latest gadgets, gizmos and “smart” technology we still rely on less high tech equipment on a day to day basis in all kitchens both domestic and commercial. We all still need a knife, a pan, a chopping board! These essential pieces of equipment remind us not everything we use has to be plugged in, calibrated or computerised to be essential assets to chefs, home cooks, in fact anyone who prepares food. You won’t be surprised to hear Feeney was like an over-excited child, filled with enthusiasm on his very first visit to Row and Sons who manufacture wooden butchers cutting blocks and serving platters. The vast workshop with it’s 1950’s cutters. lathes and sanders are all vital tools used by craftsmen who produce the most stunning wooden blocks you have ever seen still using traditional methods.

Feeney was in awe of the team, in the workshop, cutting, drilling, fixing and gluing these fabulous creations, from traditional butchers blocks to bespoke serving platters to fit every shape and size of you can think of. The operations manager Neil Mascot showed us round the workshop where he began his career with Row & Sons straight out of school, he has been an integral part of the team for over 30 years. His material and product knowledge is priceless and as a conscientious and knowledgeable team member, Neil really is part of the ‘wood work’. His Father was a craftsman with the company too and even created the original octagonal wooden butcher’s block for the world famous butchers – Allen’s of Mayfair.

Row and Sons are now exploring ways to use other materials within the traditional chopping board design to make dishwasher safe inserts for serving platters, bespoke boards and display pieces which require the base where the food sits to be dishwasher safe and completely food safe. The introduction of a manmade product called Roweca
Retaining skills of craftsmen is vital to keep these traditions living on to the next generations. It was incredible for Feeney to smell the sawdust on the workshop floor and soak up the pride, passion, and knowledge of the carpenters as they produce such beautiful blocks.

It’s pretty safe to say Feeney didn’t manage to get out of the workshop without delving through the storeroom shelves and securing his “must have” purchases! No doubt “he’ll be back!”