My life in the grocery trade

Ilse Van Staden, co-owner of Ke Nako Biltong

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

I am currently the butcher at Ballylagan Organic Farm Shop. I also own and operate Ke Nako Biltong with my wife Alanagh.

 

BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR HISTORY

Started working in the food industry as a waiter while I was a student. My first job as a waiter was at a steakhouse called Spur in Pretoria, South Africa. After my chef course, I started working for another restaurant Ocean Basket where I worked as a kitchen manager. Due to my love for rugby, I left the food industry to become a student again; this time studying languages and education. I then became a teacher, before moving to NI where I went back to the food industry. I worked at The Parsons Nose in Hillsborough for a couple of months before moving to the film industry. Again, my love for sport made me change direction and take up a cook job in a Cedar Foundation home until I got the opportunity to retrain with Peelham Farm in Scotland. This gave me the skill upgrade I needed to get involved with Ballylagan Organic Farm in August 2015, where I still work today. With my current day job, I also own and operate Ke Nako Biltong.

 

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?

Firstly, I butcher for Ballylagan as well as a couple of other small social enterprises. I am also responsible for doing all the shop orders and ensuring that the shop is fully stocked every week.

Our work with Ke Nako is predominantly done after our normal day jobs have finished, and again there is never a set pattern to our week as we make biltong to demand and depending on what markets or current orders we have.

 

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?

The best part is definitely that I get to work with some of the best organic produce in NI, but I must say that making burgers is the least favourite part of my job.

 

BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY

Depends on the day and season. But in general, I would get in and do a quick check in the shop to ensure freezers and shelves are stocked. I will then check fruit and veg display before I go to butcher whatever is needed for the shop. Then I would pack and freeze my efforts for the day before getting some of my biltong work done. I generally spend my evenings (after training) doing paperwork and catching up on emails.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

Winning Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge in 2018.

 

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY?

The people we work with. In both the shop and biltong, we get to work with some of the best local produce NI has to offer. They are so passionate about what they do, and it really sparks us to be an essential link in the organic field in NI.

 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?

I play rugby in my free time, but I also have three dogs and my wife that I love spending time with.

 

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW

As most people have guessed, I play rugby but what most folks might not know is that I am Irish Qualified through residency. Through this, I had the pleasure of representing Ireland at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. To date, I have six Irish Caps.

 

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