Interview: Hampstead Butcher & Providore
Diana von R met Philip Matthews, owner of Hampstead Butcher & Providore, last week as we had "interacted" (as they call it on social media), several times over Twitter and Instagram. We met at Roni's, next to the Hampstead branch (they have three), and Diana attempted to eat in between talking (a life style she hasn't quite yet mastered)...
Anyway, let’s roll onto the questions...
D: What sets The Hampstead Butcher & Providore aside? Why should people buy from the High Street instead of an online supermarket?
There is a wide and diverse community of amazing independent food retailers on high streets
up and down the country and we are delighted to be part of that group. We offer our
customers an alternative to the soul-destroying supermarket experience. Ours is a place where
customers can speak with genuine artisans about fresh, locally sourced produce, premium
European cheeses & charcuterie and the wines and accompaniments to match. We try to
make shopping a joy!
Our High Street provides a unique community hub. Some thrive, whilst others don’t do so
well. In Hampstead we are lucky to have a large, diverse and intelligent residential
population feeding immediately onto the high street. This community appreciates that if the
high street is not used and sustained then it will diminish and cease to be a valuable amenity.
The quid pro quo is that high street traders MUST continue to be vibrant, diverse and of the
highest quality. Online shopping is convenient and cheap in some cases but beyond
that……….does it enhance our lives or rob us of the benefits of community? Price isn’t the
only determinant of value.
D: Where does the meat come from? Are they free range?
Each week we source top grade British beef for our customers from our suppliers at London’s
Smithfield Market including a variety of English free-range, Scotch and other grass-fed
varieties. Most of our pork comes from the herd of free-range Blythburgh pigs reared at St
Margaret’s Farm on the picturesque north Suffolk coast. These pigs benefit from being reared
for four weeks longer than conventionally reared pigs to allow the delicious flavour and
mouth-watering succulence to develop fully. Our lamb is all free-range and comes from
sources including the salt marshes of Essex and the lush pastures of Oxfordshire. Our free-
range chickens come from specific farms in Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Suffolk. Organic
meat is usually available if ordered with one of our butchers with 48 hour’s notice.
D: What’s the name of the store manager? How long have they worked there for?
Ed is the store manager in Hampstead and has been with the business for about 5 years. Guy
is the butchery manager for all of the shop and was one of our original staff members.
D: Have you felt the pressure from online shops? I personally am trying to transition away from the convenience of online shops as a vibrant high street is a core part of the beauty of Hampstead
Online shopping predated the opening of our business so whilst growth in online shopping
has been reported I can’t say that it has adversely affected us. The recent movement into
the online grocery sector by Amazon is interesting although the delivery of fresh produce by
a courier is strewn with logistical challenges. Personally, I don’t want my food to come to my
home by those means. Personable staff, with fantastic knowledge and enthusiasm for what
they do cannot (yet!) be captured online. We offer free local delivery, by our own butcher in our van, and we are also expanding our “click & collect” offering, soon to feature on our
D: For those that don’t know, what does the BID do? What is your involvement with it?
BID stands for Business Improvement District and is effectively a local business association.
There are about 300 BID’s in the UK and over 50 in London. The BID does what any
business association should do; bringing all businesses together in order to collectively
resource the raising of the customer awareness and experience of our high street. I sit on
the board of the Hampstead Village BID along with other independent business owners and
we work with the BID’s CEO (its only paid employee) to put on events such as the Christmas
Fayre, install our stunning Christmas lights, clean our streets (have you noticed how clean
our high street area has been since we started high pressure cleaning it?), liaise with
Camden on all local amenity issues that affect our customers and run the marketing platform
that ensures our residents and other Londoners know what a treat it is to visit Hampstead.
D: As part of this series, I’d like the Hampstead Mums to know a bit more about the local business owners. What did you do before setting up the Hampstead Butcher?
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs kept me busy for decades from boy to man ending up with
me running the group in Covent Garden that included The Rock Garden, The Gardening
Club, Tuttons Brasserie, Dirty Martini, Fire & Stone and The International. Many a late night
and lots of fun! Once that fun stopped (we sold in 2007) I was looking for projects and
having moved to Hampstead was disappointed when the butcher, Steele’s in Flask Walk,
closed his doors. Duty called me to open a replacement and, as they say, one thing led to
D: What do your kids think about the work you do?
My kids (both big now) love the shop. They know that to eat well you have to shop well (and
cook well – which they do, thankfully)
D: Your kids are a bit older now - do you have any top tips for the Hampstead Dads
Bring the family for brunch or late lunch in the form of one of our hot dogs or sausage rolls
served Saturdays and Sundays outside our shop. The kids will think you’re a hero (which I’m
sure you all are)!
D: What are your favourite spots for:
Coffee in Hampstead? I’m a tea drinker and a regular at LLS Café, where they know how to
look after this tea drinker. Great, healthy food, delightful service and yes…….a very fine
Sunday Roast in the area? I take a pork shoulder from my counter, cook it low and slow for
up to 6 hours and enjoy it, shredded, with friends and family. A cold beer with the amazing
crackling is the best first course on the planet!
Lunch in Hampstead? If not at LLS then the Horseshoe is always an easy top quality lunch or
I’ll save myself for an evening’s treat at 28 Church Row. These guys just get it so right.
D: Is there anything else you’d love the Hampstead Mums community to know?
Look out for our half-term kids’ sausage making and butchery classes. Our email newsletters
contain lots of information that help our customers to get the best from fresh, seasonal
produce. You can sign up by scrolling to the form at the bottom of our home page. Or follow
us on the usual social media platforms.