On the farm with Quality Meat Scotland: Oink Edinburgh

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th March 2017

The Staff Canteen, in association with Quality Meat Scotland, caught up with Oink founders, Adam and Sandy to talk about their farming background, their passion for good honest food and their success at bringing their CRACKLING pork concept from the farm to the city.

Both Adam Marshall and Sandy Pate come from a background of farmers who have farmed in the Berwickshire area for generations. The two met at an early age and quickly formed a friendship due to their shared love for agriculture and rugby. It wasn’t long before Adam and Sandy began working together owning three butchery shops alongside rearing their own pigs and sheep.

Oink Edinburgh
Oink Edinburgh

At the turn of the century the pair decided to focus their attention on freshly carved hog roasts bringing them to the Edinburgh Farmers Market at Castle Terrace in 2001. Proving to be a huge success, the duo were able to open their first stand-alone shop in the form of Oink Edinburgh, based on Victoria Street in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sandy said: “We were known as a fast food outlet and we knew the novelty thing would kick off and I think word of mouth just spread. The success we achieved afterwards was just phenomenal!”

The idea came about after realising the sheep and cattle weren’t doing as well as hoped so they knew they had to turn their attention elsewhere.

“We did one or two things but we also had a catering trailer so we just started doing the hog roasts at the farmer’s market in Edinburgh on a Saturday,” Sandy said.

It was off the back of this success that they were able to launch their first stand alone shop back in 2008. The niche idea provided a refreshing alternative to the usual fast food concept delivering their succulent Specially Selected Pork hog roasts to local residents and tourists alike. It was during this time they also set up their Oink outside catering business which delivers fresh food to a host of different and events and parties catering for up to 500 guests.

Due to the success of the first shop Adam and Sandy opened their second establishment in 2013 on Edinburgh’s Canongate.

>>> Read more from Quality Meat Scotland here

Asked why they chose to move from a farming career in The Scottish Borders to one as a chef in the city, Sandy said it was best to stick to the ‘avenue that sparked the most interest’. Finding that their three butchery shops brought in very little margin they chose to stick to the hog roast side of the business which has come on leaps and bounds since first being showcased at the farmer’s market all those years ago.

Specially Selected Pork hog roasts
Specially Selected Pork hog roasts

The hog roasts that have made the farmers a household name in Edinburgh has a lot to do with their produce and the importance of locally sourced meat.

Sandy said: “It’s all Adam’s homegrown pigs, he had a clear out of his herd about two years ago and he has now introduced a new breed.”

This new breed of Specially Selected Pork has had an important impact on their product as Sandy explains, “the breed that he is using now is producing a nice marbled effect through the meat, it’s just full of flavour and it’s working really well for us.”

As every farmer knows grazing fields has a lot do with taste and texture and the Scottish fields are no exception.

Speaking about why grazing fields are important for making better produce, Sandy said: “I think they’re (pigs) well looked after throughout Scotland, I think there’s a lot of tradition within the farms. What farmers take out they will generally put back into the ground.”

Although word of mouth brought the hog roast specialists success early on in their career, online review sites such as Tripadvisor are now the norm for the digital age and can make or break a business. Fortunately, this hasn’t been a problem for Oink Edinburgh which is currently ranked at number 79 out of 1,800 restaurants in the city. With reviews that read; ‘amazing’, ‘cracking bit of pork’ and ‘best roast pork I have ever eaten’ it’s hard not to feel proud.

“It’s a great accolade, we keep checking it every now and again just to see! It’s a wonderful feeling having taken that idea and concept from nothing to where it is now and being rewarded with that position,” said Sandy.

He added: “We get the occasional poor one but I think any business gets that nowadays but generally speaking they’re all great reads.”

With two hugely successful outlets and multiple reviews on Tripadvisor that would make the biggest names in the industry stand up and take notice, the duo have some major plans in the pipeline.

“We’re opening a third shop in Edinburgh which I think will be enough for the city. We’re at an age now where if we expand to Glasgow and Newcastle we might run out of steam.

He added, “We’re just about to launch a franchise with Oink as well which we’re hoping to do this year!"

>>> Read more editorials and advertorials here

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th March 2017

On the farm with Quality Meat Scotland: Oink Edinburgh