The family which loves to smoke

A LOCAL business that began as a hobby in a garden shed in St John is using centuries-old skills to produce specialty charcuterie products.

Neil and Rebecca Cotillard – assisted by children Harri (17), Lily (13), Ella (10) and George (9) – make a variety of smoked products including Jersey beef jerky and Cajun or original smoked biltong. They also smoke Scottish salmon.

‘My wife Rebecca does sales, Harri does the website and Facebook, Lilly does the salmon with me as she has a real passion for it, while Ella and George come and help with the Biltong in the smoker – and I do all the tidying up!’ Neil said, adding: ‘But everyone strangely helps to do the tastings...

‘We are looking to extend our products and possibly producing things like smoked anchovy butter and curing and smoking our own local bacon.

‘Most of our products are made to order and we operate mainly over Facebook and sell our products exclusively to the Channel Islands.’

It all began when Neil, who has a taste for smoked charcuterie from around the world, decided to have a go at making his own.

‘This proved to be very successful and when friends and family tasted the products and enjoyed them, we thought there may be a market to sell locally,’ he said. ‘We have recently purposely built a smoke house on our grounds and enrolled the help of our four children at weekends and evenings. It is a family-run business and a hobby that we can all share.

Neil combines ‘smoking’ meat and fish with his day job, running Jersey Van Sales in St Lawrence, but coming from a farming family, he says he has always been passionate about local produce.

‘We use local beef from Woodlands Farm Butcher for our jerky and biltong and our salmon is sourced from local fishmonger, Dunn Ross Fisheries.

‘It is important for Jersey to have a variety of local produce for many reasons, including food security and tourism. It is also lovely to be able to know where your food has come from and how it is produced.

The Smokey Shed is a member of Genuine Jersey. Neil is full of admiration for the success the organisation has achieved over 20 years to promote local produce and producers.

However, he says, more needs to be done.

‘There is always, in my mind, a lack of local produce available at our restaurants and pubs and I feel that Islanders should try and support local producers and farmers as much as possible.

‘We are really passionate about smoking our products. The art of smoking has been around for thousands of years and it is an artisan skill that would be a great shame to see disappear.

‘By engaging in this hobby of ours, with our children, we are passing those skills and techniques down to the next generation, who will hopefully continue.

‘In this modern world that we live in, it is so easy for many artisan trades/skills to be overlooked and become non-existent.’

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