Chop chop! Clare visits Beres' Pork Palace
There probably isn't anything more 'Sheffield' than a Béres Pork Sandwich and with nine stores across the city they're something of a home cooked success round these parts.
I met with Richard Béres at the factory one Saturday morning to find out more about this tasty butty and try one for myself (yes, until recently I was a Béres virgin – the horror)! Situated across the way from Sheffield Wednesday's ground, it wasn't surprising to see that the shop was already bustling with customers. This being a match day all the staff were preparing for the mad rush that would hit later…
We chatted over coffee in Richard's office where he gave me a brief history of the business. His dad, Sandor (the founder of the business), was from Hungary and had fled to the UK in 1956 as a political refugee during the uprising against the Communists. Having witnessed his family's butcher shops being possessed in the uprising, Sandor was keen to get the business going again when he settled in Sheffield with his wife Eileen. The business soon evolved from a butchers to a pork sandwich shop and so Béres Pork Sandwich Shop was born.
For about 30 years or so, things ticked over nicely for this family business, with two shops running smoothly in Sheffield, but when Richard officially joined the business in 1988 (I say officially as he'd always worked in the shops as a kid) things really picked up. The business now has nine sandwich shops along with a large factory, and although Béres has a strong presence in Hillsborough, it has started moving into Woodseats and Crookes too.
The factory has been a bit of a Godsend, as it means that the business can now produce its own bread in house – and with 12,000 sandwich sales a week this really does help! I was pleased to hear that Béres also produces pork pies along with meat and potato pies, tubs of dripping and sausage rolls. There are baked goods too; cupcakes and the like.
The factory is buzzing with workers overnight, as they work from midnight until 8am every day ensuring that there is enough bread for your sandwich the next day, so most of the factory was calm when we took a quick tour. The roasting area was still in action and the room was lined with huge ovens, each filled with fat pork legs roasting away. It smelt divine!
Richard explained that the pork comes from abattoirs in the Yorkshire area and Béres cure the meat before it's roasted. This technique has been used over the last 50 years and Richard is keen to keep it that way as curing the meat makes for good crackling and a moist and tender meat. It also means that the meat produces a golden brown dripping, one that seems to be a bit in demand as Richard gets orders in from all over the country.
Of course, I couldn't leave without trying one of these bad boys and I quickly snapped up Richard's offer of a free sample. Packed in a paper bag, the caution 'contains crackle – only recommended for people with strong, healthy teeth' brought a smile to my face and this smile only broadened on ripping the bag open. A soft white bread cake was stuffed full of slices of moist meat. Richard was right; the cure made for a tasty and moist meat whilst ensuring that there was a good crackling and strong teeth were required!
I honestly can't believe that I hadn't had one of these before and I now understand how Sheffielders have become addicted to the Béres sandwich. It was delicious… so simple… but so good. (In fact I am almost drooling as I write this post!)
After enjoying their bestselling sandwich, my day was set to get even better as Richard was also keen to find out what I thought to their pork pies and he kindly sent me home with one. Unsurprisingly this was demolished pretty quickly when I got home and again I was really impressed. It was a Melton Mowbray style pie so the pastry was thick with lard and there was a good layer of jelly protecting the meat. 'This is how pork pies should be', I thought.
I can only hope that Béres don't expand into town. If I had a constant supply of these sandwiches and pork pies on my doorstep I would be the size of a house within a month.
Words by Clare Tollick. Photography by Marek Payne.
Visit the Beres website here.
When did you have your first Béres sandwich? Are you still a Béres virgin? Any guesses at their curing recipe so we can replicate these beauties at home? Let us know in the comments, foodies!