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Ross and Ross
When gastro pub manager Ross Bearman met the new chef, Ross Whitmill, they quickly discovered that they had more in common than the same name.
Six years later, manager Ross Bearman and chef Ross Whitmill have set up their own business, supplying gourmet preserved meat to high-class restaurants and farmers’ markets.
Mr Bearman said: “We are both passionate about food. We both went down to Milton Keynes at the same time to open a new pub for Peach Pubs and now we are not just good friends, but also business partners. We are like-minded people who love good food.”
Mr Bearman, 31, has worked in the food industry for more than 15 years, notably with hotel group Malmaison as well as North Aston-based Peach Pubs.
Until recently he managed the Stratford-upon-Avon shop of cheesemakers Paxton and Whitfield, so knows the ins-and-outs of supplying the top-end restaurant trade.
Mr Whitmill worked at Oxfordshire chef Raymond Blanc’s brasserie Le Petit Blanc before joining Peach Pubs, where he rose to become head chef of The Swan at Salford in Buckinghamshire.
Mr Bearman said: “We have been talking for about a year about setting up a business.
“We were looking to open a foodstore or eaterie, but we could not find a location and the banks are not supporting small start-ups at the moment. We were planning to make our own products to sell and we decided we did not need a retail outlet — we could sell to others.”
Potted meat, a traditional preservation method popular in Britain in the days before refrigerators, has made a comeback recently, but many brands are imported from France. After months of studying traditional charcuterie methods, cooking and tasting, they have lit on three products for the launch of Ross and Ross — duck rillet, pork rillet and chicken liver parfait.
They have given up their jobs to plunge into the venture full-time and fitted out a state-of-the-art catering unit in Chipping Norton, where Mr Whitmill lives.
“We will have game, different rare breeds and so on, then vegetarian and sell to farmers' markets and food festivals. No-one in this country seems to be doing potted meat. A lot of people buy it from France, which seems a shame when we have such fantastic animals here,” said Mr Bearman.
“We wanted to be in Oxfordshire because the farmers' markets are happy to sell produce that is made locally, with local ingredients.”
They are sourcing the meat from Slatters butchers in Chadlington, which sells local pork, duck and chicken livers.
The charcuterie method, an old way of preserving meat, involves a marinade to cure the meat, then long, slow cooking to make a confit.
Once they get the go-ahead from environmental health officers, they will use their contacts in the industry to make their mark, selling to Oxfordshire chefs.
* Contact: Ross Bearman 07841 526864, Ross Whitman 07850 511092 Web: www.rossandrossfood.co.uk