IN A bold career move Mandi Binns went from PCs to pork pies - and she has not looked back.

Once an IT sales director, four years ago Mandi launched a food business with her butcher husband Paul, baking meat pies. Her Quality Yorkshire Pie Company stood opposite Paul’s long-standing butcher’s shop Binns Quality Meats in Bradford’s Oastler Shopping Centre.

Fast forward to today and the couple’s combined skills are behind the award-winning butcher’s shop and delicatessen Binns of Saltaire.

With their experienced team of staff, they pride themselves in providing the best, locally-sourced produce in the region. Paul’s well-presented cuts of meat in the butchery, lie adjacent to Mandi’s expertly-made pies in her well-stocked deli.

It’s a far cry from IT: Mandi recalls how she felt on making the transition.

“The biggest shock to the system was standing up for so long - after 25 years sitting down to work. But I have come to really love this trade - to have people come in and say wonderful things about your food and service is very satisfying.”

In the 1940s Paul’s great-grandfather Craven Binns farmed at Far Shay Farm in Keelham near Denholme Gate. The farm was passed down to Craven’s son Morris, whose own son Richard grew up there.

Through helping with the herd of cattle and getting to know the wholesale meat business, Richard developed an interest in butchery and as a young man found a job in the trade at Bradford’s Rawson Market. “That was the start of it,” says Mandi.

In1968 Richard opened his first shop in Bierley, and later bought two units in Rawson Market.

He loved farming and as soon as he could he bought a smallholding in Oxenhope so he could raise animals and produce his own meat. It was there and at the market where his son Paul learned the trade.

In 1995 Richard moved on, leaving the city centre, to buy a shop on Bingley Road, Saltaire, and the following year Paul opened his own shop in Bradford’s Rawson Market, later moving to the Oastler Centre. Mandi set up shop a few years later.

In 2016 the couple moved from their shops in the city centre to take over Richard’s butcher’s in Saltaire and in October this year they relocated ten doors down to a double-fronted premises. They have doubled their staff to eight. “Saltaire is a great place to be - it is on a main road but has a real village feel,” says Mandi. “We get a lot of regular customers who are all very supportive of local businesses. They have been brilliant throughout both lockdowns and we would like to thank them.”

The couple have seen a change in consumer behaviour over the past decade. “TV programmes about the food industry and cookery programmes especially havefuelled people’s interest in where their meat comes from and the different ways it can be cooked.

“This change influenced us: we wanted to talk about meat and tell people about whole butchery,” says Mandi. This is the practice of cutting from the whole carcass rather than buying boxed cuts. It allows butchers to cut according to the seasonal demands of their customers.

As their informative website says ‘A Binns butcher has heart, source, hand and voice’.

“All our staff cook and are all really interested in food - we enjoy answering questions and offering tips,” says Mandi, adding that during the pandemic people have had more time to devote to meal preparation and have become more adventurous, asking for meat such as beef cheeks and rib-eye steaks.

“People will say ‘Can I please have a rib of beef, and how shall I cook it? Some send me Instagram pictures of how it looks. afterwards."

She adds: "Meat tastes fabulous if it is cooked the right way. If you are cooking steak, for instance, you should bring it out of the fridge half-an-hour beforehand as it is best to cook it not so chilled.

“We are asked what is the best mince for lasagne - it’s the fattier mince that brings out the flavour, about ten per cent at."

“Over the past few months we have had a lot more young people coming in and asking about cooking meat, which is great."

Over at the deli, Mandi’s steak and ale pie and pork pie scooped awards at Smithfield’s Q Guild presentations. Q Guild represents the best independent butchers across the country. The deli also sells, breads, cakes, breakfasts, sandwiches and daily lunch specials

The prospect of Christmas under Covid has seen some changes in orders. “We have taken more orders for turkey crowns reflecting the fact that as celebrations are going to be smaller,” says Mandi. “But they are also more luxurious, with foods like seafood platters.”

She adds: “Tastes are becoming more sophisticated. I have learned a lot about cheese working in the deli."

Mandi wishes that more young people were interested in careers in butchery. “We are lucky, we have Kieran who has just qualified and Robbie who is learning the trade.”

Paul and Mandi enjoy working together. “There is a wall between the deli and the butchers, which is good,” she jokes. “We don’t see that much of one another, but we get on well.”

Alongside its charcuterie - which comes from Cobble Lane Cured in London -and cheese, the deli also sells bread and cakes, made by Haighs of Guiseley. “We are currently looking at suppliers of Indian sauces,” says Mandi.

The couple’s daughter Harlei, 12, is already taking after Mum and Dad. “She helps out on a Saturday and knows how to make a meat pie.” And after netball on a Saturday she comes and helps us out.”

Their own favourite meats are, for Paul, steak. “He's definitely a steak man - he likes it rare,” says Mandi, who loves a “thin and crispy lamb chop.” *