The foodie’s favourite

Leigh scantlin founder of StoneleighLeigh Scantlin, founder of Stoneleigh's

The festive season is a time to enjoy family, friends and fine food. So, with Christmas around the corner, who better to feature as Grosvenor Billinghurst’s December Elmbridge Icon than a man who knows a thing or two about all three? Meet Leigh Scantlin, founder of Stoneleigh’s in Cobham, who talks about his love for cooking, the importance of provenance and the real story behind the popular butcher’s name.

People always assume that I’ve come from a family of butchers – but the reality is very different.

My family are highly academic. My sister is a teacher who plays countless instruments. My dad had a senior role at a high-end cosmetics company. And my mum had a nursery, which she used to run.

Butchery was something that nobody would have considered as a career for me – myself included. However, late into my twenties I began working at a friend’s butchers and I immediately fell in love with it.

By 2016, it was time to go my own way and at the end of that summer, I’d signed the lease on the shop you see today. It was a huge decision – and one that carried a huge risk. At the time, my eldest daughter, Lily, was only two and my partner, Shelley, was pregnant with my second daughter, Summer. Despite this, I decided that it had to work and it had to work quickly. I just went for it, and have never looked back.

I think its popularity is down to two key things. Firstly, the Cobham community is fantastic. Everyone is so supportive and our customers are nothing short of superb. Secondly, we do things a little differently. Butchers traditionally just do meat, whereas we look at the whole thing, from where the meat originates through to how we wrap and serve it so that it’s nicely presented. We’re all a bunch of keen cooks, too, so not only do we have a deep knowledge of the meat, but also how it translates to the kitchen. I’d say that we’ve bridged that gap between butchery and gastronomy.

In fact I absolutely love cooking. My favourite recipe of all time is Ossobuco – a slow cooked veal dish braised with vegetables, wine and broth. In fact it’s so good I’ve published the recipe on the Stoneleigh’s website. It’s also the dish I made after I proposed to Shelley, which gives it an extra layer of importance.

For some butchers it’s about traditionally dressing a cut of meat. For others it’s about the marinades and pre-made kebabs. For us, it’s all about provenance, provenance, provenance. If, after you’ve stripped it back to its naked form, you’re starting with a quality product from the beginning, you really do have everything you need.

Cobham has always had this draw for me. I think it’s down to the fact that as soon as I was born my parents took me to The Old Plough! Even on bike rides with my partner we’d always end up here, so launching a butchers here felt like a natural step.

As to the name of the shop, people tend to think that it’s linked to my first name, or assume that Stoneleigh is my surname. The real reason is that my grandparents lived in Downside in a bungalow called Stoneleigh. I was around five years old at the time and every time I came to visit from Twickenham, which is where I lived then, I’d see the name on the sign when I walked up the driveway. Naming my shop after that house felt like a nice nod to my grandparents, who also played a big role in setting up the day centre on Portsmouth road many, many years ago.

I created The Cobham Larder as a celebration. Covid was a difficult time for so many people and as Stoneleigh’s had traded so well over that period, mainly down to people cooking more at home as the restaurants were closed, I wanted to take that goodwill and make sure that something positive came out of such a challenging period. It was like a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s doing really well and we’re always getting great feedback.

At the end of a busy day, when the shop’s closed and it’s time to get back to the family, it’s generally me who cooks - if I get home in good time, that is. The thing with being the only butcher in the village is that you quickly get to know everyone in the community, which means that there’s always an opportunity to chat.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, though – and that’s the beauty of Cobham. I’ve worked in many high streets over the years, but there’s nothing like Cobham. The people I’ve met since opening Stoneleigh’s are not just customers. They’ve become genuine friends, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Stoneleigh’s is launching a range of Christmas hampers in time for the festive season. To make sure that you don’t miss out you can pre-order yours by calling Leigh and his team on 01932 868009 or via Instagram @stoneleighsfamilybutchers.

Stoneleigh’s Family Butchers. 17 Oakdene Parade, Cobham KT11 2LR

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