West Lakeland Smokery - from humble beginnings......
Since buying a small stove top smoker at the Royal Show in Warwickshire some 30 years ago I have loved cooking smoked foods of all kinds. About 3 years ago my parents gave me their old woodburning stove to use as a patio heater. I had always fancied building my own smoker so I looked in the garage to see what I had lying around and built myself a smoker.
One of my friends is a local cabinet maker working exclusively with Oak so his sawdust and shavings are ideal for smoking as they don't contain any other woods, glues or any other artificial components.
Having completed a food hygiene course as part of my job last year - see later for my background - I started by smoking cheeses, garlic and salt. These all proved very popular with all of our friends. I had always hot smoked salmon in my stove top smoker but quickly moved to using this. Straight away i was producing beautiful, succulent hot and cold smoked salmon. I have experimented with various cures for both of these and have developed a fantastic wet cure for salmon that includes maple syrup, brown sugar, sea salt and Dill in the perfect proportions. I have also experimented with times, heats and adding moisture to the smoking cabinet. Over the last year the smoker has been used many times and the salmon that I am able to produce is second to none. Everyone who has had some has commented that it is the best that they have ever tasted. I gave a few sides as Christmas presents last year and everyone wants more.
So many people have now commented about me going into business that I have decided that is what I would like to do.
Having taken advice from the local Food Standards Officer, the plan is to convert the end of our tandem garage into a smokehouse. This has been used as a bouldering room for the last 6 years as my daughter competes nationally in climbing competitions and I have been heavily involved in climbing for many years. To do this I will create a new doorway into the garage from next to the current smoker. I will then complete the stud wall that already exists, in order to completely seal the room off from the rest of the garage. This will then be lined, the floor sealed and tiles put on the walls to about half way up. I will then install a commercial smoker, sink, stainless steel work surfaces, a freezer, 2 fridges and a commercial vacuum packing machine. Anyone who pledges will receive regular updates on the works.
I will source hard cheese from the local Lake District Creamery; soft cheeses from other local merchants; Salmon will come from a salmon farm in nearby Scotland and possibly trout from our local trout farm, 2 miles down the road. Local restaurants and shops have already said that they will use and stock my produce when I am set up. . I already have a website domain www.westlakelandsmokery.co.uk, at present this links to the Kickstarter web site. When I am in production the website will have an online shop where people can mail order a selection of products. All details of places that stock my produce as well as restaurants who use it will also be listed there as will regular updates on how the business is developing. I have already sourced packaging that is able to keep food produce cool for 48 hours whilst it is being delivered if ordered on the online shop.
If the business takes off I would love to open a little outlet shop in nearby Keswick or Cockermouth. In the meantime I will continue to work as a Special Needs Co-ordinator at a local secondary school. Last year I took a break from being an Assistant Head to work with children with complex needs who weren't in school. As my background is in Outdoor Education, it was great to be able to take them out and expose them to adventurous activities. I also completed a food safety course and used to cook with them. I would like to be able to combine both of my passions and run courses in food smoking as well as engaging teenagers who have proved hard to engage in the past.
To do this I really need some help to set up the business with some capital to buy the initial equipment that I'll need to comply with regulations. I hope that you are able to help in some way and that I will be able to send you some delicious produce in return.
Rewards for helping me out are listed below but here are a few photos of what you would expect:
- Reward 1
- Reward 2
- Reward 3 & 5
- Rewards 4, 6, 7 & 8 (800g side of salmon shown - cooked weight)
Thanks for reading,
Risks and challenges
Budgeting: I have costed materials and raw produce based on current prices. These may rise or fall with market pressures. I would have to adjust my pricing accordingly and may be more effected by these changes than larger smokeries. This should only effect later profit margins. I could compensate for this by doing some free lance outdoor work or teaching.
Marketing: If there is a crash in the economy there may not be as much call for luxury food items. I am hoping that there would be enough high end restaurants around these parts needing quality locally sourced produce that this would not be a major issue. Marketing on the internet is a bit of an unknown quantity. I have purchased from smokeries on line myself and have been happy with the products.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)