Article

Insider knowledge: Abel Ringler

Categories: Behind the stalls

The familiar face behind Bath Soft Cheese shares his thoughts on food and life at the Market

1—Borough Market has always seemed like a very interesting place, so I had been looking for an opportunity to work here. When I was offered the position as manager of the stall, there was absolutely no hesitation in accepting.

2—I grew up in a small village just outside Lisbon in Portugal. Food was always important to me as a child. I really liked vegetables—beans, cabbages, carrots, a wide variety—which I know is unusual. We grew up eating fresh local produce and while there was fish and meat, vegetables were what I ate most. They’re still the basis of my diet today.

3—This is not the first time I have worked in a market. I got my first market job back in Portugal when I was a young boy. I really liked shouting at the top of my lungs to sell the products—it was like a game. We sold things like olives, cheese, chorizo and bread. When in season, we would also sell refreshing fruits like watermelons. I worked there for five years and really loved it. That was one of the best times even though the winters were freezing cold, the summers could be extremely hot, and I was getting up at 4am to go down to the market and set up the stalls. I learned a lot about both markets and life working there. The guy who ran it was a bit of a mentor.

6—One of the things I like most about working here is seeing smiling customers when they have tasted and bought one of our products. We get two distinct types of customers: the regulars, the real cheese lovers who come to buy specific products—many of whom had been coming for a long time when I joined and I enjoy talking to them about why they like them and how they use them—then there are those who have discovered us while I have been here. When a customer leaves with a new cheese that they have discovered, with a beaming smile, that makes my day.

7—The quality of the products we sell here is important to me. These are award winning, organic cheeses and ice creams. The cheeses are made in Bath using the best ingredients, and with real care. It really fits with the way I think about food as a whole.

8—The thing I like most about working here is the sense of family among the traders. Very soon after starting, I realised there is real mutual support here. If you run out of change or need some help with something on the stall, someone will always be willing to help out. Not all markets are like that.

9—Given complete freedom to take home any product from the stall, I would take the Merry Wyfe cheese. It is washed in cider every two days for four weeks, and has a lovely smooth texture. On its own, as part of a cheeseboard, in sandwiches, with wine—it works in all of those situations. People don’t usually think of making sandwiches with really nice cheeses, but that is one of my favourite ways of eating it: with great bread and good quality fillings, it is wonderful.

10—I always try to eat the freshest food, with as little processing as possible. In fact, I cook at home more than eating out because I like to know where my food has come from. Working at Borough Market has been great for that.