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Great Glen Charcuterie
Sometimes I think that the most innovative businesses in the UK, the ones changing and expanding existing markets, are producing food.
Such is Great Glen Charcuterie, based in Roybridge, near Fort William where Anja and Jan Jacob Baak aim to make their Scottish Venison Salami as recognisable as Parma Ham.
Anja and Jan Jacob originally moved to Scotland to look after the Highland estate for a fellow Dutchman. They saw an opportunity in the fact that for the stalkers the venison was almost a waste product and wasn’t commanding a high price.
Jan Jacob built a smoker in their garden and began transforming venison into delicious charcuterie while Anja fashioned baby booties out of deer leather while looking after their 6 children.
In 2003 they took the plunge, and both started to work full time in the business - gradually building up an impressive client base of chefs and high quality stockists.
Anja points out that this was just about the worst timing - just as they moved to a high end artisan product the economy tumbled “People were not buying expensive charcuterie and we really got hit in sales. It took years before we could start making any money and it was tough for our family”
Over the years though Anja has used Social Media to teach people about her product - how venison charcuterie is a healthier alternative to traditional pork, how not much is needed to transform a dish and to showcase how top chefs are using their chorizo, salami, pepperoni and bresaola in dishes. You can find her recipes on the Great Glen Charcuterie website
Now they process 250-300 kg of meat per week and their charcuterie is stocked in Fortnum and Mason and Harrods amongst other shops.
I asked Anja what her advice would be to someone wanting to start a business and she said
“Follow your heart, look at what you really enjoy doing and find a job in that sector. It might not be your dream job but start somewhere and get experience. My first job was as a bakery assistant”