James Whetlor from Cabrito Goat Meat began selling goat meat, sourced from British dairy farms, to London restaurants in 2012.
As an ex-chef, James didn’t set out to create an award-winning business. He founded Cabrito Goat Meat with his girlfriend Sushila, after needing help to manage their overgrown garden that hadn’t been touched in years. The idea was that four goats would help clear the ground. A chance meeting at Taunton farmers’ market introduced James to Will Atkinson at Hill Farm Dairy. “I ended up buying a couple of goats off Will to put on the restaurant menu at River Cottage” James says, “They flew out of the door. I thought, ‘We’re on to something here’, and went straight back to Will for more.”
James also felt he could do something about the ridiculous waste of the male billy goats from the dairy industry, an ‘ethical car-crash’. He thought there had to be a better solution than gassing them as a by-product at a few hours old. Calling on his 10 years’ of chef experience and contacts in London, James set up Cabrito Goat Meat and began working with goat dairies to supply restaurants.
James’ first sale was to Jeremy Lee at Quo Vadis in March 2012; and through word-of-mouth and thousands of miles on the M3 and M25 from Devon to London, James was soon supplying top restaurants. Today, Cabrito supplies over 70 well-known establishments including Mark Hix, St John, Quo Vadis and new restaurants on the ever-changing food scene including Temper, Duck & Waffle, Marksman, Morito and Pidgin.
To reflect the increasing demand and appetite from diners James has developed a range of products, making kid meat widely available to buy online through the Cabrito web shop including leg, shoulder chops, diced and mince.
Cabrito Goat Meat won an Observer Food Monthly Award (2014) for Best Ethical Producer, Good Housekeeping’s Champion Meat Producer (2016), Young British Foodies Meat Award (2016) and was a finalist in the BBC Radio 4’s Food and Farming Awards 2017. James has appeared on Saturday Kitchen and Channel 4’s Hidden Restaurants with Michel Roux Jnr and is a regular on the events and festival circuit including Wilderness, Food Rocks and Meatopia. Goatober 2017 hosted events in London, Bristol, Manchester, Somerset, Northern Ireland and Amsterdam. Plans for Goatober 2018 are underway in the UK, across Europe and New York and GOAT, James’ first cookbook is published on 5th April by Quadrille.
Photograph: Tom Gold