Article

Two of a kind: Dominic and Leo

Categories: Behind the stalls

Two brothers from Northfield Farm talk about life on and off the family farm

Dominic on Leo
I am the general manager of Northfield Farm at Borough Market, and have been here for about nine months. My main role is butchering the animals and the organisation of the staff. Leo doesn’t work on the stall all that often, his main responsibilities are on the farm in Leicestershire, but when he comes to the Market having him here is great.

The great thing about Leo is that he has seen the meat along every step of the way: from when the animal was born, through raising it—doing his best to give it a good life on the farm—through the abattoir and the butchery, to the product he is selling on the stall.

Sometimes he even helps make the burger patties back at the farm, ready to come down to the stall at Borough. He is very happy to talk about the products and because he knows the process so well, he can talk about them with real knowledge.

Being on the farm is definitely Leo’s favourite place to be. He enjoys being a farmer: he loves the animals, the countryside and the fact that he is not always surrounded by crowds of people. Having said that, I think that’s why he enjoys his days on the stall. It is a busy place in a bustling environment, which makes a real change from his normal day.

Leo is a good cook but not a fancy one. He makes simple things really well: dishes like risotto, kedgeree, steak and mash. It all sounds simple but it is easy to get these dishes really wrong, and I’m happy to eat what he cooks—usually.

Leo’s last meal would certainly involve a lot of meat because that's what he likes most—that and his wine. If I was arranging a special dinner for Leo it would be somewhere that serves good meat and with a good cellar, then he would definitely be happy—as long as they serve decent-sized portions. He’s a big lad.

The best thing about working with Leo is seeing his commitment. This is a family business and it’s just great to see how much work he puts in to making it the best it can be. But at the same time, we can still have a laugh.

He takes up more space than a lot of people though. Back in the day he played rugby. He was a prop forward and a very good one too, and you can still see that in his build today. There is a lot less space for the rest of us when he’s around!

Dom and Leo McCourt of Norfield Farm

Leo on Dominic
I look after the animals: we have pedigree Aberdeen angus cattle, some pedigree white park cows and a flock of sheep. I try to come to the Market occasionally when things are very busy. I do as much as I can, but that depends on the farm—sometimes it’s a full time job.

I try to get the odd lesson in butchery, but Dom has really learned that side of things and loves the process of transforming large primal cuts that come from the farm into the smaller cuts that look really nice and people want to buy.

He gets a real sense of satisfaction when people come back and tell us how they enjoyed what they bought, because it means we have helped contribute to their dinner or an event in some way. He is also very sociable, much more so than me, and he loves being able to interact with customers every day. Watching from my side of things, the customers seem to like him as well.

Running the stall is a new challenge but he seems to be enjoying it. He really likes getting deeper into the art of butchery. We are both very young and have a lot to learn—Dom dealing with managing people is one of the biggest, but I think he was done well so far.

He has the right balance between being serious when he needs to be and having a laugh when he can. It helps to keep up the mood on the stall. He is more up for partying than I am, but gets his head down when he needs to.

When it comes to food, Dom is into high quality ingredients like parma ham, mozzarella, fillet steak—all the good things in life. He has very particular tastes when it comes to food, which is probably why he works so hard—so he can pay for it.

We used to fight like cat and dog when we were under the same roof but now we don't argue at all. In that way we are not like conventional brothers, we never fall out. I can't really think of a bad thing about working with Dom.

If he was to come and work with me on the farm then I could probably name a million things, because he would be so out of his comfort zone while I am in mine. But it would be the same if I tried to work as a butcher—he would find a million things to complain about at me. We both stick to what we enjoy doing. Maybe that’s why we get on so well.