“We believe in family”, says Louis Herterich, Master Butcher at Herterich Artisan Butchers. And the facts speak for themselves: his wife Caroline and his sister Martina both work full time in the business, and his son Louis -he has three boys and three girls- is learning the trade from him. When he’s fully trained, Louis -son- be the fourth generation to follow this path. Even the younger ones, Rudy, Kate and Tory, help at Herterich Butchers after school and on the weekends.
The family moved from Braviera, in Southern Germany and Louis’s grandfather George opened their first butcher shop in Naas in 1912. Louis’s father and namesake, and his mom Teresa opened Herterich Artisan Butchers in 1956 at Ballymahon St, Longford Town. He was one of 11 siblings -9 boys- that spread out all over Ireland, “opening shops and bringing Traditional German butchering skills with them” Louis explains.
I was born in 1966 over the butcher shop in Ballymahon St. My mother says she was working away in the shop until the day before I was born and I was back there with her behind the counter a few days later. So essentially I have been there for 50 years.
Growing Family, Growing Business
When Louis’ parents started the shop, their Ballymahon St. premises combined the manufacturing facility, butchery and family home. The combination of high quality and great service helped them grow and in 1982 they transformed the living space into office, storage and a test kitchen. In 1999 they went through a further expansion and although everything was refurbished, they kept “front façade, which was retained and the original stone work cleaned to remain true to our traditional roots and values.”
Now they employ over 20 people, and the shop features a cafe and a deli and restaurant, and they not only sell their products in-store; they supply many restaurants and hotels in the midlands area and they have recently joined SuperValu’s Food Academy.
We pride ourselves on being innovative by bringing fresh new ideas in food and service to the people of Longford and surrounding areas, yet we also strive to remain true to those Herterich traditional values of service and quality.
Local and Trusted Suppliers
When speaking about the provenance of the produce they work with, Louis explains that they purchase most of their pigs from a small pork factory in Drumlish, Co Longford called Green Pasture Meats. “They have great traceability so we are able to request pigs that are produced by Longford Farmers”, he adds.
All the lamb and beef is sourced in Co. Longford as they want as much meat as possible to be local. “That ensures a smaller carbon foot print and in most cases we would know the farmer and they might well be customers. A short supply chain is always best for the community and the environment.”
Their chicken can be traced back to each individual farmer and through out the year they stock free range and often organic free range. “Most Christmases we rear turkeys on our own land with bronze being the most sought after meat because of its taste and texture.”
A Global Array of Flavours
Louis is aware of the importance of variety and even though they offer some traditional German and Irish delicacies, at Herterich Artisan Butchers, they constantly work to develop high quality products that will please their diverse and knowledgeable clientele.
“The range of sausages produced is constantly changing with time and taste trends and of course Ireland is a multicultural society in 2016 so we try to cater for as many as possible”, Louis mentions lamb products for those who don’t eat pork, and some international treats such as South African bauernwurstand Argentinian style chorizo.
Among their best sellers, he points out the Herterich traditional sausages, which comes in flavours including Pork & Apple, Pork with Cracked black Pepper, Pork with Chili, and Honey & Mustard. “Beef sausages with sweet peppers are another firm favourite and I have to say, the turkey sausages are flying out the door.”
The key difference in our sausages is that we mix our own spices, use only the best cut of meat and hand fill them into natural casings in the traditional methods, handed down from generation to generation.
For Louis, “it’s all about trust. People like to know that the ingredients in the sausage are only the best. Our customers trust us”, in fact he adds that their customers are very loyal, their oldest customer, Lucy, has come into the shop every week since 1956.
Some other successful products on offer include their range of cooked meats, dried cured rashers, turkey, and dishes like lasagne and shepherd’s pie, both Gold Medal winners at this years’ National Specialty Food Competition in Dublin. “Would you believe scones, brown bread and apple tarts are some of our best selling products? They’re made fresh each day from scratch that’s the key to success”, Louis adds.
The Longford Sausage
They are currently working on developing a unique flavoured sausage using ingredients from Co. Longford which will be launched soon as the Longford Sausage. “Its made with lamb, pork and mint”, and Louis is delighted with the feedback the trials have received so far. “If Leinster has its cheese and Clonakilty has its pudding, why can’t Longford have a sausage?”, he asks and the only answer we can think of is we’re glad this is happening.
They strive not only to supply the best food possible but to serve our local community. “Herterich’s is a hive of activity, buying and selling local produce and supporting local jobs”, Louis adds, and even though it is a business, he points out that “its not all about profit”, but about making people happy.
To hear a customer new or old compliment a product that you have made with passion, using your bear hands is better than somebody walking up and giving you €50″
Hazlet’s Big Comeback
Hazlet is a traditional German meat loaf which Louis is delighted to say is making a great come back. “We have been making it for 100 years and in recent times it was fading away with the older generation, but I am proud to announce we have re-launched Hazlet and it is selling well.”
The product has done very well in the several food shows and festivals to which Louis has taken it to. “A typical response form an older person is ‘that’s a blast from the past’, but how wonderful it is to listen to positive feedback and watch the faces of younger folk who are tasting Hazlet for the first time. That makes all the handwork in this business worth while.”
Has anything chanced in the last few years regarding what customers want?
“Yes. Customers are becoming much more knowledgeable on cuts and tend to know what they want. There is a big resurgence in demand for quality sausages, high meat content and a variety of flavours, not just for the BBQ season but for “Bangers and Mash” which is a firm favourite.”
Another trend that Louis points out are their “many young customers who use the gym and are watching very closely their diet and they want high quality protein like turkey rashers and sausages” as well as other Irish beef and chicken products.
“I can see a move back towards the butcher shop away from large supermarkets because customers want to ask questions about cuts and cooking instructions, and they believe the local butcher is the most knowledge to deliver this service. Its all about trust.”
What is different and what are common points between German and Irish butchers?
“Traditionally Irish Butchers, concentrated on beef and lamb with some pork while German butchers were predominantly pork butchers, using every part of the pig to produce a range of products from cooked ham, sausages and pies”, Louis adds that German butchers wet and dry cure and are proficient with pastry and they also make good use of offal.
“These differences are no longer so obvious as all butchers have to provide a large range of diverse products to keep their customers interested”, Louis says, and he adds, “German butchers are better looking.”
Where to find Herterich Products
They supply about 30 shops in the Midlands area as well many good restaurantsand they also have an online shop with next-day delivery, herterichartisanmeats.ie.
Last year they participated in the Food Academy Programme run by SuperValu, Bord Bia and LEO. “Resulting from this experience and after an initial trial with 5 stores, SuperValu has asked us to supply 9 of our best products into 50 stores in the surrounding counties and into the West including Mayo and Galway.” Louis is happy to highlight their Hazlet as one of the products which will be on the retailer’s shelves.
In the last few years they’ve gotten more into outside catering, and as part of that expansion they have 2 catering wagons that allows them to bring “handmade sausages, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches out to events all over the midlands.”
And they’ve also done well in the awards department, most recently at the All-Ireland Sausage & Pudding Competition: “We won 2 national titles for white pudding and lifestyle category with Turkey breast sausage plus a second for gluten free sausage and third place for beef sausage with sweet peppers. All in all we won more than any other shop in Ireland.”
About the Cafe
Louis takes pride on the “very unique business” he and his family runs, and as the premises function as butchery, deli, café and meat workshop and catering kitchen, the variety of fresh products goes beyond meat and also includes many meals and baked goods. “I am pretty sure our café is the only one in Ireland where you can have a full Irish breakfast with all of the ingredients, including sausages, black and white pudding, rashers, boxty and bread made on the premises. We even have our own free range eggs from a flock Caroline keeps on the small farm around our home. We don’t grow the tea leafs or milk the cows yet!”
That “yet” is a summary of their determination and commitment to be as local as possible, and while the kids are learning the trade, and traditional products share counter-space with innovative offers, we celebrate the business’ 60th anniversary and admire their drive and passion.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.