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New cookhouse manager bringing New Zealand flavours to Thurston Butchers

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Swapping Manuka for meat is only part of the story that brought Thurston Butcher’s new cookhouse manager from the other side of the world.

Kurtis Low, from Invercargill on New Zealand’s South Island, has taken over running the state-of-the art kitchen section of the shop, making tasty treats like pies and pasties.

But the 27-year-old is aiming to not only push the British classics but also bring big flavours from his homeland to the business too.

Kurtis Low and Alastair Angus outside Thurston Butchers (49344727)
Kurtis Low and Alastair Angus outside Thurston Butchers (49344727)

He said: “It was about two years ago that I met my now wife, Meg, in New Zealand when she was over there travelling and I was working as a bee-keeper,

“When we both came back here, I originally came as a farmer doing some tractor work but then Covid hit and I was made redundant.”

A friend brought up the idea of butchery to Kurtis, which sparked something in him as he had always seen and worked with live animals but had never seen the other end.

Kurtis Low with some of the pies from the Thurston Butchers cookhouse (49344773)
Kurtis Low with some of the pies from the Thurston Butchers cookhouse (49344773)

He sent an email to Alastair Angus, managing director of the School Road butchers, and after a trial day in August last year he was hired as an apprentice.

Alastair said: “We could see from the start that Kurtis had a passion for cooking and a real aptitude for it as well as exploring the butchery side.

“I could see very quickly that he was the person to push what we want to do with the cookhouse forwards.”

Kurtis took charge at the back end of last month, and has already made changes that have tickled the taste buds of customers old and new.

He said: “I kept the likes of steak and ale pies and pork pies, but I have bought in bacon and egg pies and lamb and mint pies from home, both have been real crowd-pleasers.

“I have been making the pastries from scratch, using local produce and making stocks to build the depth of flavours - That is my passion, I want to know everything that goes into what I make.”

Plans for the future include bringing back the shop’s ‘pop-up burger shop’ permanently with planning permission already being looked at.

But whatever happens Alastair knows his new manager will be at the forefront of all the plans.

He said: Kurtis is a strong player both in business and in terms of creativity. I let him do what he likes as whatever he cooks is delicious.

“Butchery as a trade can sometimes be a bit stiff with everyone doing the same thing so offering something different, like what Kurtis is doing here, well, we can only try.”

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