Charlie started rearing rare breed pigs over a year ago with the intention of slaughtering them and selling their meat to his parents’ restaurant, The Italian Farmhouse in Rainton, County Durham. He had hoped to raise enough money to buy himself a computer.
Now, having successfully achieved his aim, Charlie, who picked up the special Judges’ Award at Wearside-based Sun FM’s business awards, has decided to continue his efforts as a business and also help his parents’ target of running a sustainable restaurant.
The youngster, who completed a pig husbandry course, currently has one Gloucester Old Spot breeding sow and four Saddleback breeding sow. He is hoping the sows will yield 50 piglets to eventually supply meat for the restaurant or customers who want to buy cuts to cook themselves at home.
His father Mark, who runs the restaurant with wife Nicola, said: “We are really proud of Charlie and how he really has worked hard at Charlie Hird’s Rarebreed Pork.
“He has run it as a proper business and has displayed a maturity way beyond his years and we’re thrilled that his entrepreneurship has been recognised in this way.”
Producing its own meat is also part of the Italian Farmhouse’s efforts to be as sustainable as possible.
Although some ingredients used in the restaurant's menus are imported from Italy for authenticity, the restaurant, which is a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, has been looking at ways to improve and is planning to make its own Italian farmhouse cheese in a new production kitchen soon.
“Since opening the Italian Farmhouse in 2009 we have tried to use only the best Italian ingredients, combined with locally sourced produce that ensures authenticity and maximum freshness,” said Mark.
“The launch of Charlie Hird’s Rarebreed Pork represented the start of a long term plan to make the Italian Farmhouse as self sufficient as possible and reflects the growing demand amongst customers to know exactly where their meat is coming from.
“We hope that this will enhance their enjoyment of the food, not just in the restaurant, but also if they decide to buy the pork to use at home.”