Steve Page, Head Butcher at Cowdray Farm Shop

“Customers are much more aware these days of the provenance of the meat that they are buying.  I feel very lucky to have a good supply of beef from Cowdray Home Farm, lamb which is reared on the Estate, and wild Cowdray venison that I can use.”

Meet the Team with Steve Page, Head Butcher at Cowdray Farm Shop

Tom Bunning Photography

  1. Can you describe your role as Head Butcher at the Cowdray Farm Shop?

My role as Head Butcher is evolving all the time as the butchery continues to grow. My day-to-day job involves among many other things ordering the meat and ensuring that I buy the best possible produce, liaising with the Farm Shop team regarding what we have for sale, stock control and cutting the meat.

My favourite aspect of the role is creating the window display by the butchery and dealing with the customers, many of whom are regulars, and with whom I have established a good rapport with.

2. What were you doing prior to working at Cowdray? When did you start at Cowdray?

I worked at Arundel Butchers, but prior to that I also worked for Michael R Humphries in Midhurst. I have been at Cowdray for 10 years now.

3. Christmas must be your busiest time of year? What is the most popular item from the butchery?

Christmas at Cowdray is busy and stressful but also a lot of fun!  Turkey is still the most popular meat that we sell at Christmas, but gammon and beef come a close second.  I enjoy doing special items such as the three-bird roast, but it takes an enormous amount of time and skill.

4. What else do people order to go with their Christmas lunch?

We are lucky to have the kitchen and shop so close, so that you can get all your trimmings.  The chefs make great stuffing (with our sausage meat, of course!).  We make, in my opinion, the best pigs in blankets, which is a must have with Christmas dinner. Also, our dripping is made with fat from Cowdray beef – you can’t beat roast potatoes made with it!

5. Do you get asked for tips as to how to cook the meat? Do you enjoy cooking?

Yes, all the time, and it’s a great way to interact with customer.  I really enjoy cooking and its great now that the kids are getting more adventurous in what they eat, and they also enjoy helping.  My favourite books to cook from are Gordon Ramsey and Joe Wicks.

6. What will you be having for your Christmas lunch?

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without turkey, and I love Christmas Pudding. I could (and have on several occasions) eaten a whole one to myself!

8. What inspired you to become a butcher?

I really enjoy cooking and eating good food which fuels my passion for being a butcher.

9. How important is it as to where the meat is sourced from?

It is very important to me that I purchase really good quality meat from the right source.  Customers are much more aware these days of the provenance of the meat that they are buying.  I feel very lucky to have a good supply of beef from Cowdray Home Farm, lamb which is reared on the Estate, and wild Cowdray venison that I can use. Venison is becoming increasingly popular.

I also spend time visiting local suppliers, and seeing how their meat is reared, to ensure that it is from a good source.

10. How many other butchers do you work with?

Other than myself, we have two butchers in my team – George and James, who are both great guys.  George is my Assistant Manager, and is very passionate about food and cooking, and he has come up with some great ideas that we sell in the shop.

James has come on so well since he joined Cowdray, and he is undoubtably the ‘Sausage King’!  Together we make a great team, albeit an extremely busy one! We are looking to recruit another butcher.

11. What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you live locally?

I live the other side of Kingley Vale in West Sussex, between the coast and the hills. Both are just literally a mile from my house, which means that I can run or bike ride from home.

However, I do come to Cowdray as often as possible to indulge my passion for running and mountain biking.

Lately, my passion for bikes has started to take over the running, as riding with my son for me is the best thing in the world.  We have done several bike parks together, and this year my wife and I tackled the Alps with the kids!

12. Tell us something that people don’t know about you?

I have played rugby at Twickenham for my school, and despite being short, I was also Borough Champion at the high jump. But if you really dig, my guilty pleasure is the song Wham Rap by the 1980s band Wham… sad, I know!

13. Where do you like to go on holiday?

My wife and I spent many years lying on beaches all over the world, but after a holiday in Malaysia, more than 20 years ago, we went hiking in the jungle – and this is where it all changed for us. After that, it was active holidays – mainly hiking and biking.

I like to move around and see different places.  It’s great that we are now able to share our passion with the kids, who also love mountain biking and hiking.  My favourite place that I have been to is the French Alps (until we go to Whistler, the ski resort in Canada, which is most definitely on my bucket list!)

14. And finally, what can’t you live without?

My family, that goes without saying, but also my bike.  I am so lucky that my wife bought it for my 50th Birthday.  It’s great to put it in the car and head off to my happy place, Bike Park Wales, which has an amazing selection of all-weather mountain bike trails.

Written by Matilda Reid

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