Erin Jardine arrives at the Western Fair Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning after a two-hour drive to pick up a special cut of fresh meat for a customer. Her husband, Andrew, smiles and chats with the steady stream of shoppers, responding to questions about the high quality products that fill the shelves and coolers at Saucy: Meats & So Much More!
Donna Lawson, a regular customer, says, “They have the best meat — my husband won’t eat bacon from anywhere else, and they are just such nice people.”
As parents of three young children, Andrew and Erin were always concerned with nutrition, buying meat directly from the farm before they discovered Saucy. Impressed by the quality, and fascinated with the business model, Andrew, a recent MBA graduate, jumped at the opportunity to purchase Saucy in July 2013. “It was a perfect fit for us,” says Andrew, “and we wanted our kids to be part of a family business.” Their oldest son, five-year-old Aidan, is seen every now and then, in his very own Saucy t-shirt, bagging customers’ purchases.
Original owner Jane Antoniak worked for years with local food producers in her role as a communications professional. Jane suggested to some that they set up shop in London — easier said than done for families already working countless hours on their farms. Her clients replied, “Why don’t you do it, Jane?” After months of research and planning, Jane launched her unique business, Saucy, in September 2012.
Customer experience was crucial for Jane: “We wanted a booth people could walk into, look at the products, and serve themselves.” In addition to two specialty display coolers, Saucy houses two large stand-up coolers for fresh and frozen meats. All the meat is vacuum sealed, allowing shoppers to see exactly what they are purchasing. “The meat is sealed fresh at the butcher and fully inspected by the health unit. The vac seal reduces handling, and keeps the meat from leaking in shoppers’ bags,” Jane says.
“Not many butchers do vacuum seal; it’s costly,” says Andrew. Interacting almost daily with four butchers and six or seven local farmers to source and prepare the meats, “Erin does a lot of work behind the scenes,” Andrew says, “and it’s all very time-sensitive.” Andrew and Erin are exceptionally selective, only supporting farmers who are committed to raising their animals ethically, and producing hormone- and drug-free meat.
Darlene and Dave Pettit, owners of Lena’s Lamb, focus on quality and consistency. “We only sell what is born and raised on our farm,” says Darlene. “We enjoy working with Andrew and Erin. They are a smart and hard-working family, and are just as passionate about providing customers the best local food as we are.”
Gerhard Metzger, of Metzger Meat Products, also appreciates that Andrew and Erin “share the same values when it comes to locally produced foods.” Metzger’s pigs are fed only freshly-ground, non-GMO corn, with no added hormones. The processed meats are free of starches, flours and flavour enhancers. No wonder Metzger delivers award-winning products, year after year. “The bacon is outrageously good,” says Andrew. “Repeat customers stand at the bacon fridge and sell it for us!”
Bruce and Shirley Mills have owned and operated Blanbrook Bison Farm for 22 years. Bison meat — high in protein and iron, and low in cholesterol, is growing in popularity. “Our collaboration with Saucy has been beneficial, allowing us to sell our meat to a larger audience,” says Shirley.
In addition to beef, pork, lamb, duck and bison, Saucy offers a variety of locally produced sauces, oils and dry goods, as well as suggestions for pairing them with the meats. “The Garlic Box makes a great white bean soup mix that pairs well with a pork hock from The Whole Pig,” says Andrew, “and, ‘Traditional Portuguese Sauce,’ made here in London [by Cavameida], is perfect as a marinade or base for a lot of the meats we sell.” Customers are also welcome to borrow from Saucy’s recipe book library.
Most Saturdays, customers are able to sample some of the sauces and oils Saucy carries. Jamie Griffiths, owner of The Pristine Olive Tasting Bar, and his father, Dave, offer samples of some of the freshest olive oils and finest balsamic vinegars available in London. Andrew also hopes to offer samples of cooked meats this summer.
But does high quality come at a high cost? “We monitor our prices closely,” says Andrew. “As a young family, it’s important to make good, healthy meat affordable for other families, like us.” Saucy also offers customers the flexibility of paying with credit cards.
Saucy is indeed a family business, but Andrew and Erin have become part of a much larger family: “the Western Fair Farmer’s Market is such a supportive community,” says Andrew, “and we really do think of our customers as neighbours.”
Bringing together farmers, food producers and consumers through a unique business model, top quality natural foods, and good old-fashioned customer service — Saucy really is So Much More!
Saucy: Meats & So Much More!
900 King Street, London
Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market
Saturdays: 8 am–3 pm
Steve Grimes is a London-based photographer and a regular contributor to eatdrink. www.grimesphoto.com