With a huge selection of free-range meat, poultry and game from surrounding farms, as well as fresh and smoked fish, cheese, dairy and baked goods, Source is at the top of many to-visit lists when it comes to stocking up for the festive period. (It doesn’t hurt that its on-site café puts out a cracking breakfast, either.)
Christmas preparation is in full swing from early December (though thankfully without the accompanying music), retail manager Joe Wheatcroft tells us.
“The run-up actually starts in August, though. It’s a little hard to handle when the sun is shining, but we’ve got to start talking to the farmers and making sure the prices and produce are set.”
Once all the Christmas orders are in, the team are challenged with everyone picking up their goodies at the same time, no mean feat with a huge array of fresh produce and limited fridge space!
“It’s great for the customer because they only have to make one order, but they may be ordering from four different sections in the shop,” he continues. “Given the nature of the food, in that it’s all fresh, that’s a lot of planning and it inevitably gets really really really busy for a very short period of time.”
Things really kick up a gear between 15-24 December, when all the produce arrives and orders are collated and assembled, ready for collection.
“We don’t have huge fridges to store things in, so when someone comes in to collect their order, we have to run around and get everything ready for them.”
Sounds rather frantic, but the team do get a bit of a break over the Christmas period. That said, although the shop is closed, there’s plenty of working happening behind the scenes to make sure there’s fresh produce ready for when they reopen for the run-up to New Years.
“It’s a lovely period; people coming in throughout the day because they’re not working and they buy whatever’s available and what looks good. Their agenda for Christmas is pressured and set, but New Year’s Eve tends to be a much more relaxed, fun affair.”
Of course, Christmas food trends change over time and these guys need to keep up with the latest trends.
“The turducken used to be really popular!” Joe laughs; “I’m glad that’s fallen out of fashion – it was a lot of hassle. I think people have realised that if you’re going to eat three different birds, cook them separately in different ways, and then you get the best parts of them all – the crispy skin, the dark meat and the breast meat – rather than what is essentially a poultry ham!”
So, what’s replaced the three-bird-roast as our centrepiece?
“Turkey crowns are popular this year, as are ribs of beef. We’ve also seen an increase in orders for sirloin on the bone, or wing rib, which is a lesser-known roasting joint.”
Joe’s Christmas favourite? “Roasted duck,” he answers emphatically. “It’s a little treat every year, perfect for smaller families.”
Source Food Hall and Café are members of Bristol Food Producers, a member-led organisation of farmers, producers, retailers, restaurants and supporters who are working to increase production of local food in and around the city. To find out more about the organisation and find out about joining as a member, visit bristolfoodproducers.uk