James Swift is a historian turned artisanal charcuterie producer who loves leftover-cooking. Fifteen years ago he spearheaded the development of charcuterie-making in the UK by setting up Trealy Farm Charcuterie on his own farm at the time, in Monmouthshire, South Wales. Born to an English dad and a French mother and growing up in rural Sussex on a small farm where all the family’s vegetables, fruit and dairy products were produced at home – but none of the meat, James developed a love for cured meats at the table of his French granny near Calais, who would feed the little boy with slices of Saucisson Sec and farm-made charcuterie during his frequent visits. Years later, after having forged a successful career in education in London but then moved back to the countryside in Monmouthshire wanting to set up a food business, his first love, he went on a quest across Europe learning the traditional charcuterie methods of curing, smoking and air drying, painstakingly gathering techniques and processes, interviewing producers and studying the microbiology of meat curing, fermentation and drying in Germany.
On the continent artisanal producers seemed to know how to make amazing charcuterie but often, James found, they couldn’t transmit their knowledge with the scientific precision needed to produce air-dried charcuterie in a different climate (they didn’t need to!). Having thoroughly picked continental European brains, James started making his vision of British charcuterie in Wales – tapping into the quality of free-range and wild meat this country has to offer.
13 years on Trealy Farm Charcuterie has won more major food awards than any other food producer in the UK, including the BBC UK Food Producer of the Year and Observer Best UK Food Producer, offering a unique varied range of over 30 products and supplying some of the top restaurants in the country. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall crowned their creations ‘the best artisan charcuterie in the UK’.
To this day James still goes to Farmers’ Markets to sell his products regularly and still can’t go a day without nibbling at – now of his own making – Saucisson Sec.