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Bringing home the bacon

PUBLISHED: 12:33 25 September 2013 | UPDATED: 12:33 25 September 2013

Oli Mawson , owner of The Gourmet Bacon Co.

Oli Mawson , owner of The Gourmet Bacon Co.

Archant

Oli Mawson from Grundisburgh recently started his own food business, The Gourmet Bacon Company

What sparked your interest in bacon?

When I was little I always wanted to be a pig farmer. I got the opportunity to work on a farm with pigs and as the business grew I went into the butchery. I went to university, came back and became head butcher at Jimmy’s Farm at 21.

Why did you decide to branch out on your own, and why bacon?

I wanted more. I knew I needed to do something for myself and there was a gap to produce really good gourmet bacon. I spent the best part of a year looking into it and had so much support from my friends and family. The guys from the Artisan Smokehouse have been brilliant.

What makes your bacon ‘gourmet’?

I only use free-range Suffolk pigs from Blythburgh Pork, raised in Suffolk. They are butchered by me, cured and cut by me and packaged in Suffolk. I mix all my cures by hand too. Some companies go to wholesalers and get a big vat of bacon cure, but there will tend to be high levels of nitrates in them, which affects the flavour. The beauty of making cures yourself is you can control it, so you only put in what needs to go in.

What types of bacon are you making?

At the moment I’m producing back, streaky, unsmoked and smoked bacon and lardons. There are so many cool things you can do with bacon. I want to experiment with different cures like chilli cures. And I’m looking to explore later with sausages and gammons. The smoked bacons I make are smoked with maple wood at the Artisan Smokehouse. We’ve spent a fair bit of time balancing the sweetness of the cure with the smoke. It’s a long process.

Where can people buy your bacon and what’s the feedback been so far?

Friday Street [Farm Shop] are selling it so far, and Snape Farmers’ Market. It’s nice that now I’m seeing return customers. The best thing was when someone who didn’t like bacon came past. Her friend made her try it and she bought three packets. A lot of people have said it’s like the bacon they had as children.

My favourite breakfast is my streaky bacon with eggs from our chickens. You cook it and it stays the same size and nothing comes out.

People really value that and know it’s a good thing.

Are you enjoying being part of the Suffolk food world?

I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s hard work and exhausting but I wouldn’t change it for the world. When you give the bacon to someone and they like it, that makes it all worthwhile.

n See Oli Mawson at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, September 28 and 29.

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