Article

Two of a kind: Jock and Richard

Categories: Behind the stalls

The father-son team behind Jock Stark and Son

Interview: Viel Richardson
Image: Alice Mann

Jock on Richard
When he was around 10 years old, Richard would come to work with me on Saturdays in my greengrocers shop to earn his pocket money. He started helping me out at the Market when we began the retail stall about 17 years ago. He was a carpenter by trade but he always liked coming to do some work with me as well. He started full time on the stall about a year ago.

I think one of the things he likes most is engaging with people. He spent a lot of time working on building sites where there is bit of banter, but it is a closed in space—he enjoys the interaction you have with customers when working on a stall. He likes the variety of what we do, but particularly the wholesale buying side. You are there at 1am tasting the produce, developing relationships, picking out the best fruit you can find and then haggling over the price. It’s a very interesting part of the job.

Unlike me, Richard has quite exotic tastes in food—he’s really into trying things from different parts the world whenever he can. When he goes to the Market for lunch, he will always come back with something different from one of the hot food stalls, or something interesting from one of the other greengrocers.

If I was going to give him one thing from the stall it would be a passionfruit—you will often see him with one in his hand when they’re in. But I’d say that figs would come a close second. Whenever they’re good, he’ll eat loads of them. Working with him, I’ve discovered that he also loves cheese and chocolate brownies.

The worst thing about having Richard here is that he does eat a lot of the produce—he’s a big lad. But to be honest, there’s no real downside. We get on very well and we make a good team—as long as he does what I tell him!

Jock and Richard Stark

Richard on Jock
My dad has been selling fruit and veg since long before I was around. He really likes the social aspect of it. He enjoys having a chat with the customers and the other stallholders, as well as the merchant bit of the business—the buying and selling and all the activity that the customers don’t see. He loves it when we’re out and about in the wholesale market in the middle of the night; you can see he gets a real buzz out of that, particularly the banter with the lads, some of whom he has known for years. He enjoys trying to spot the best produce and he really enjoys getting it for the best price. I think he just likes this way of life. He keeps threatening to retire, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.

He really knows his stuff. Even though I’ve been around this business all my life, I’m learning so much from him now I’ve started working here full-time. It’s not just the selling; it’s about doing the job well and running a good business. I’d rather he didn’t know I said that, though!

I wouldn’t call my dad a foodie. His tastes are quite traditional. He’s not particularly experimental in what he eats, but food is important to him and he recognises and appreciates good ingredients and good cooking.

I suppose after dealing with high quality ingredients for so many years, what my dad wants the cook to do is bring the best out of them. If you gave him £20 and sent him off into the Market, he would probably spend it all at Sussex Fish. He’s really into his fish and the stuff Paul sells is excellent. If he did come back with anything else it would probably be lamb chops from Northfield Farm—he’s a real fan of those.

My dad can be a bit grumpy sometimes, If I’m honest, especially if I don’t do something his way. When that happens, he can get a bit upset. But we do have a good laugh. If you get on, which we do, there is nothing better than working with your family.