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Going the whole hog at the Salutation Inn

By West Country Life  |  Posted: January 18, 2014

  • Chefs Polly Dugdale and Craig Kempson

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When the guest chefs at a Gloucestershire village pub say they are going the whole hog they really mean it.

Craig Kempson and Polly Dugdale have set themselves a challenge of spending 2014 cooking their way through every single part of a pig, and Peter Tiley, landlord of the CAMRA award-winning Salutation Inn in the aptly named village of Ham, near Berkeley, could not be more delighted.

The locals, who enjoyed a medieval-style feast of slow-roasted pigs' heads at the pub's Christmas Dinner are equally enthusiastic.

The pig dishes will be served on alternate Monday evenings, and: "to set tongues wagging" the first dish, served last Monday, was, of course, pig's tongue, sautéed with garlic after long slow tenderising.

Craig and Polly are real food enthusiasts and spend a great deal of their time experimenting with new recipes and seeking the best possible ingredients from the local area. The quest has led to them forming a shared smallholding with their neighbours in nearby Hill, where they grow vegetables and have kept pigs, chickens and sheep.

They have reared, butchered and cooked their own produce for previous guest chef evenings, and although last Monday's meal was not prepared from their own pork, the meat came from Broomhall's the same family-owned abattoir at Eastington, which has taken their own pigs in the past.

As well as working their way through a pig from snout to trotters, the couple are in the process of launching a business, Meaty Treats, with a view to selling their meat products to people who want to follow the growth and rearing of the actual animals they eventually eat.

The Salutation is a down-to-earth place where you can play shove ha'penny and enjoy a humble snack, but as Peter explains: "just for one night a week we do food in the evenings. The concept is that the guest chefs only cook one dish on the night. This ensures the food is always freshly cooked and is of the highest quality. Because we want the pub to remain as a pub and not a restaurant; we don't take bookings and we don't reserve tables.

"With 'Guest Chefs Go The Whole Hog' we want to prove that it really is just the squeal that should go to waste. The evenings will finish when we have cooked every cut and get to the tail. It is a way to promote underused, unfashionable, yet delicious cuts of meat and to give people the opportunity to try new things."

Peter, 30, took over the Salutation last April. Born in Charfield, he spent eight years working in London as a business analyst in the telecoms industry before: "getting bored" and heading back to Gloucestershire to: "pursue his passion for beer and pubs."

The pub is famous for its real ales and ciders, with ten ciders on draught, and has just won the Dursley and District Campaign for Real Ale Pub of the Year 2014.

He says: "As the landlord of the local pub I was keen to bring in Polly and Craig to cook on Monday evenings as a way of a) providing exciting local food in the pub and b) helping a young enthusiastic local couple promote their new business.

"We have done a similar thing with a local pizza start-up company in Berkeley, Pizza Monkey, whom I invited to the pub to sell their pizzas outside one evening."

On the Mondays in between the Whole Hog nights the guest chefs will be cooking dishes using other ingredients.

Craig and Polly, both 32, are Brits who met in New Zealand and shied away from a return to city life when they returned to England. They fell in love with Gloucestershire, which Polly had known in childhood, and soon got stuck into rural life.

Polly explains: "It all began when we decided to rear some pigs with our next-door neighbours.

"We kept three between us, and then the next year – last year – we expanded to six, which have recently gone to slaughter, and now we have some sheep.

"Various friends and family wanted to have some of our pork products and we told them about the pigs and the stories behind them. We gave the pigs names, not sentimental ones, names like Psychopig, which got people's imaginations going, and so now we are trying to set up in a very gentle fashion to have our Meaty Treats venture, telling the story of our animals through blogs so that people can really get to know and understand how their food is produced and choose the animal they want, and even sponsor an animal from field to plate.

"It is perhaps not for the faint-hearted but people will know exactly what the life of an animal has been."

The blog is still a work in progress, though people who wish to register their interest for this year's products and animal sponsorship opportunities are already able to do so on the website at www.meatytreats.co.uk

Polly says it was Craig who fired her enthusiasm for cooking: "He grew up in the best restaurant in Wolverhampton, his mother is a fantastic cook and he hung around learning how to cook from her, and it has been a great inspiration for me.

"We began the guest chef evenings last August and they are going from strength to strength. We like to experiment and produce something different from standard pub food. The feedback from the Whole Hog idea has been fantastic."

In another foodie innovation which could take off in other pubs the Salutation invites locals to bring their home-made produce, from jams to scotch eggs along on the last Tuesday of each month for a swap-and-share evening, with small donations for a local charity.

Peter's plan for 2014 is to launch a small microbrewery at the back of the pub. And right now he is in competition against other pubs in the county for CAMRA's Gloucestershire Pub of the Year award. He must be the only publican in the contest who is looking forward to a pig of a year.

For more information visit www.sallyatham.com

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