James Cochran: goat meat is a sustainable, UK-produced bi-product - so why aren't more chefs using it?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th September 2019

"When you think of goat, you think curried goat," said James Cochran, chef owner of restaurant 1251 in Angel, Islington. 

But together with James Whetlor, founder of Cabrito, James wants to shift peoples' preconceptions, and get kid goat on more menus across the UK.

We visited James at his restaurant, which opened twelve months ago, after he parted ways with previous investors. The goat dish that won him a place at the banquet on Great British Menu last year is no longer on the menu, but is the foundation for his new street-food venture, Goat.

Have we been missing out on sustainable, high availability meat?

Using kid goat meat - usually slaughtered at birth or shortly thereafter, as it is a bi-product of the goat dairy industry - means it is everything the British public increasingly requires in terms of locality, sustainability and availability. 

He said: "You have a beautiful piece of meat that's produced in the UK and is available all year-round."

The chef and his supplier, James Whetlor, plan on holding talks to discuss the advantages of using goat meat - including a visit to Trinidad. 

"They're importing their meat from America and you have a commodity that you can basically grow in your own country and it sells, so we're going out there to talk about all the different cuts of meat and what you can do from it."

How about going full veggie? 

Given the current debacle around welfare conditions and issues of quality in the meat industry (not to mention its environmental impact) we asked the chef whether he believes he should promote vegetarianism rather than a different kind of meat.

He said: "Here's the thing. You have farmers and breeders who will nurture all their animals and I personally am never going to cut my meat back because I believe that if you have something ethically-sourced that's raised well, native bred and you know you're getting a good piece of meat then I will carry on eating that. "

And although it's not always possible to splash out on expensive meat, the chef said he thinks people should try and avoid mass-farmed animals where possible. 

"The way they treat their animals and push it out there and it's pumped with blood or red food colouring or pumped with water, then that's not really fair. "

"Imagine you start from a seed and watching that grow, you're literally starting from this animal and it has no life, no story nothing behind it, it's there to be consumed by us."

"What I would say to people is - think outside your normal box. We're set in that way of going to the supermarket to get this - I guarantee you  now, if you spend a little bit more, you will see the difference. Not saying for people to be doing this week in week out because everyone has a tight pocket but there are ways around it." 

Watch our full interview with James to hear his thoughts on using goat meat, his plans for his street-food brand and numerous other ventures - as well as where he sees 1251 in the coming years. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th September 2019

James Cochran: goat meat is a sustainable, UK-produced bi-product - so why aren't more chefs using it?