Merchant Profile: Cannon & Cannon
Posted in: blog, on 17 Sep 2016
Ten years ago you might have chuckled at the thought of British charcuterie. Salami, chorizo and prosciutto were the exclusive preserve of our continental cousins. If we did ever venture down that road it usually ended with a sweaty circle of ‘meat’ the colour of nappy rash.
Yet cured meats have played a growing part in the food revolution that has swept the length and breadth of Britain in the past decade or so and left no edible stone unturned.
At the heart of Britain’s Salami Revolution is Sean Cannon, founder of Cannon & Cannon in 2010. A little over five years ago he decided to quit a plateauing life as an actor (he played a corpse in The Bill once!) and travel the land meeting charcuterie producers.
Back then there were just 19 of them. Today there are close to 100. From a ramshackle outlet in Brixton’s blooming food market, Cannon began serving all-British charcuterie plates and serving shots of ‘meat reduction stock’ long before the trend for bone broth.
A child of rural Norfolk, Cannon learnt how to air dry sausages and bacon as a kid. Today, as the middle man flying the flag for producers with exceptional meat and stories, he has returned to his passion.
“Britain is coming on so fast. We've gone from being a gastronomic laughing stock to world leader in a relatively short space of time,” says Cannon. “Consumers now want to know all about their food. We’re becoming continental in the way we talk about food — debating it, gaining knowledge and seeking a genuine connection to food. People are prepared to pay a premium to support British and get the best.”
In Britain we have no charcuterie history as such; it’s completely open season. That’s risky but it’s also tremendously exciting. And it’s a craftsman’s dream.
But the Europeans have been curing meats for centuries, how is it possible to compete with them? “Our initial frame of reference was the Continent where there are many talented and passionate people. But in places like Italy and France there is the dual burden of various laws that govern production and family methods that haven’t changed for decades. These quell innovation. In Britain we have no charcuterie history as such; it’s completely open season. That’s risky but it’s also tremendously exciting. And it’s a craftsman’s dream.”
The results of such liberating experimentation include cured mutton, prosciutto-like hams made from lamb, and Scottish red deer wild venison that is cured, smoked and preserved until almost charcoal black. At Trealy Farm in Monmouth they even make a salami with red wine and chocolate — based on a stew that the producer had tasted in Chile.
“Our producers take the highest quality British meat — free range or wild and often rare breed — and turn it in to amazing stuff that’s never been seen,” adds Cannon. He talks about the different meats that fill his Borough Market base with a salivating eloquence — firing off descriptive words like a master wine taster. Hot smoked pigs cheeks from Wales are “compressed, silky, salty bacon-like wonderment” and are not surprisingly popular with restaurants offering strong British-led menus, from Quo Vadis in Soho to Salon Brixton.
Fortunately for foodies outside London, Cannon & Cannon's range is available right here at TheFoodMarket.com, delivered to your door free of charge. Explore the range here.