Mick Stockton and others at the Wild Boar
I was approached by the editor of The Field who was mentioning our smoking school in an article, and he was after a short quote. I emailed Mick as I knew he had enjoyed a recent course… and this is what he wrote!
“I’m a married, 42 year old father of 2 who comes from Kendal in The Lakes but now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. After 20 years working in video games and special effects for Hollywood movies, has recently joined Teesside University teaching across media business and journalism as well as dealing with internal and external business engagement.
I was bought the smoking event with Smoky Jo’s as a Christmas present from my parents under guidance of my wife, as I love making my own stuff from video game arcade cabinets to sausages and am obsessed with craft and learning new skills. My family researched the available food related options (I secretly want to be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) and among weekends offering the option to make your own axe, or learn how to build a long bow, the Smoky Jo experience repeatedly appeared in the many top 10’s searched.
I was a little nervous on attending. I am from the Lakes and love it so much, but feel a little bit of a traitor for not staying put, though my goal has always been to return. As such whenever I am faced with other Cumbrians, I tend lay the accent on far too thick, which rather than making me sound like ‘one of them’ sort of makes me sound more like ‘one of them’, those folk who think speaking like inspector Clouseau in France makes you perfectly understandable rather than condescending. Anyway, on arrival I was surprised at how far my colleagues had travelled attracted by the fantastic reviews and passionate contraptions on the website made by alumni of the Smoky Joe course. There were a father and son from Surrey, a man who had worked in the fish smoking industry all his life from Scotland and his friend, a master baker from my home town a mother from Blackpool who had already purchased all the kit and me. My approach was much the same as the lady from Blackpool in that I tend to buy all the equipment at great expense, and hide it from my wife so that it become imperative that I HAVE to learn how to use it. The group was just the right size and allowed for varied conversation as well as being small enough that everyone knew each other’s names while being able to get attention when they needed it.
Jo was a fantastic character, animated and passionate, and explained more to me in 5 minutes of scrawling on a whiteboard within the wonderful surroundings of the Wild Board at Dent than the stack of books on the subject I have been amassing since I decided to begin this journey a year ago ever have. During the day we learned about the important relationship between smoke and salt, developed our own unique brines, used and understood all types of smoking and developed a whiff of smoke which would take a week to leave our clothes and palates.
Not only did we get to define and develop our tastes for smoked food, we also got to taste our home made wares. A lunch of smoked cheese, salmon, chicken and even smoked flour mince pies was all the better for knowing 3 hours ago none of us had a clue what we were doing and a shared suspicion that “it can’t be that easy can it?”. The evening meal too was a delight, again hosted at the Wonderful Wild Boar at Dent, we were able to absorb the breath-taking Cumbria countryside as a feast of smoked hams, black pudding, turkey and more was laid before us accompanied by the fine beverages of the establishment (even a smoked ale for those that hadn’t quite had enough smoke by now).
Throughout Jo and Georgina we the perfect hosts, convivial and up beat throughout. There was a no pressure opportunity to buy some of the equipment we had been using throughout the day at the end, and the ladies actually ran out of stock. I left with a cold smoking box, a salmon knife and 3 kilos of sawdust at a very competitive price compared to the online suppliers I have used.
I actually owned a smoker before I attended. Now I own a 2 cold smokers, a hot smoker, and a filing cabinet ready to be turned into a 4 level cold smoker. This Christmas I smoked sides of salmon, garlic, cheese, sausages and much more for friends and loved every moment. I’ve had requests from as far away as New York and Luxembourg and I am learning new things every day about how to do it better. I cannot recommend the event highly enough, I have been on a number of such events over the years, but this one has really got under my skin, and I can only put that down to Jo and Georgina’s love of food, of fun and of people. Reading into their history in their excellent book, they appear to have given up everything to start this business and left very successful careers to follow their hearts in building Smoky Jo’s, and that enthusiasm and passion is infectious.
Sorry that went on a bit. It started as a quote and turned into a review. Hopefully there is something useful, if not:
“The Smoky Jo experience has to be experienced. It’s an outdoor fire and knives food fest, filled with fun and excitement and a real learning experience for all levels which sees you come with nothing and leave with real, useable skills which will be in demand by all your friends once they taste you first home smoked salmon, done in a cardboard box. Smoky Jo’s can make this happen.”