Meet the Experts: Robin Rea
Robin Rea has been a chef for 20 years, and now runs Rusty Pig, a shop specialising in delicious charcuterie, cured meats, joints, sausages and plenty more, not to mention the most scrumptious piggy picnic baskets. Robin is Vale House’s resident pig butchery expert and guru on all matters of the trotter.
How did you get drawn into your particular area of expertise?
I fell into it really – about seven years ago I started a family and set up a small-holding where we kept pigs. Although we did then move to a smaller property we continued to keep pigs, and then when my mum retired and gave up her shop premises, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to open up a specialist charcuterie deli.
What really inspires you about it?
I love pork because it’s so versatile. The pig is the king of charcuterie – although it’s made with lots of other meats too, like beef and venison, pretty much all charcuterie products will include pork as well, so it’s pretty much essential.
What attracted you to Vale House Kitchen?
As soon as I met Bod, I knew we’d be great friends. Bod and Annie are really committed to creating a great learning experience, which is why they keep the classes small – which means it’s not about making lots of money, but about passing on knowledge and learning new skills. I really appreciate that approach and I think visitors do too.
Why would you encourage people to take your course in particular?
Because I’m fantastically interesting and funny! My course isn’t a masterclass, so it’s suitable for beginners – but hopefully, by the end of the day, they’ll have real confidence about using the same skills at home.