“Being from the country, finding the sort of meat that I was used to wasn't easy,” says Charlie Crichton. “Just getting good fresh stuff, that was what I was looking for, and I found it hard.” Crichton and his family have been farming beef in Young, NSW for more than 120 years. Along with schoolmate and fellow farmer Tim White, he’s just opened 1888 Certified, a paddock-to-store butchery in Double Bay.
“We're just trying to get the best, fresh produce to the public every day,” Crichton says. Most of the produce in the store is delivered directly from Crichton’s 1450-hectare farm. “I can understand why most of the meat industry is run the way it is these days; with the sort of volumes necessary for supermarkets, it predominantly comes in cryovaced boxes. It can be anywhere from two weeks old to six months old.”
That’s what led White and Crichton to start their certification system. The butchery’s name, 1888 Certified, comes from their system, which ensures farms are producing meat with a commitment to quality and ethics. “We want to make sure the product is all grass fed, free range, the animals are being treated humanely and they have good systems in place,” Crichton says. Everything in the butchery not directly sourced from Crichton’s farm comes from one of Crichton and White’s certified farms.
The other difference 1888 Certified has is its whole-carcass processing. From outside the shop, you can see into the butchery’s back room, where a pair of dexterous, aproned men bring in whole animals and prepare them for the various cuts, sausages and extras. Along with the beautiful marble and wood fit-out from Tom, Mark and Henry (Luyu and Yum Yum, Dead Ringer), it makes a beautiful frame for a piece of theatre that’s too often concealed in Sydney.
Crichton says one of the advantages of bringing in whole animals is being able to provide any cut, or offcut, at request. He admits he hasn’t had many offal-related requests yet, and he’s looking for alternative places to stock it. “That's what I'm working on now. We want to find good outlets for all that stuff.”
Along with Crichton and White’s fresh meat, the store is also packing dry-aged beef and processed meats from some of Sydney’s finest. Just beyond the shop’s front window is a chain of salamis and dried meats from Pino’s Dolce de Vita and a box of South African jerky from Biltong Man. The condiment range is a mix of recipes from Crichton and White’s wives, rural NSW businesses and homemade sauces produced through collaboration between 1888 Certified and Scone restaurant, The Cottage.