"Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for embracing Victor Churchill into your homes and hearts over the last 10 years.” - Anthony Puharich
IN CONVERSATION WITH DARREN O’ROURKE AND MICKY PEACOCK
Working at Victor Churchill for almost 10 years, Darren O’Rourke moved from Victor Churchill’s Head Butcher position into a new role as Education Partner in the greater Vic’s Meat business, passing the baton to Micky Peacock earlier this year.
Now appointed as Head Butcher after being a part of the Victor Churchill family for over six years, Micky Peacock is only the third Head Butcher in our history.
What made you want to become a butcher?
MP: I actually had no intention of going into the trade to begin with, I left school and found full-time work in a large chain butchery - the knifes and attention to detail really drew me in and got me interested.
DO: Circumstance! Victor Churchill made me want to become a butcher. Just being there in those 4 walls surrounded by pride, perseverance, perfection and family lit a fire in me and built a desire I had never experienced before.
Describe how you started working at Victor Churchill.
DO: Long story. Having started my chefs apprenticeship at 27 I had a lot to learnt in a short period of time. But it was never going to be forever. I needed discipline, a role model, a purpose, direction and a sense of navigation. And I wanted more than anything to learn how to cook! I gave myself 10 years max. In 2009 when Victor Churchill opened everyone in the industry knew something big was happening. My time in the kitchen was drawing to an end and I needed to transition into something new and different. Spending what was meant to be a year at Victor Churchill was a perfect option.
MP: Well I was butchering in the UK for around 4 years, and being in the industry the name Victor Churchill is extremely popular. I watched the Anthony Bourdain episode ( a couple of hundred times!) and took a punt with emailing them to see if I could get any work, I wasn’t expecting to hear back! Four months of talking back and forth and I booked my flights, a very surreal experience!
Do you remember your very first day at Victor Churchill? What was it like?
DO: Vividly. It was both daunting and welcoming in equal measure. I was under the impression that my role was to be in the kitchen. After an hour Romeo our chef arrived and asked me what I was doing in the kitchen. My role was not in the kitchen but behind the slicing counter. Not going to lie, I nearly left there and then. Very grateful I didn’t.
MP: My first day was a Sunday - I think Darren was off. So I worked in between Pete and Danny, two legends with 60 years of experience. First thing I did when I went to my block Danny goes “Ah, you’re a lefty.” That’s it, they had their eyes on me! I was very nervous, but I was quick to find two absolute gentlemen happy to teach me and give me time. I have huge love and respect for them both.
Tell us about the first time you ever stepped foot in Victor Churchill. How would you describe the experience?
DO: Mind-blowing. Magical. Special. Like nothing else I’d ever seen in a retail environment food or otherwise.
MP: The shop fit out is both amazing and daunting! I had seen it a thousand times in pictures and videos, but there it was in the flesh! I was met by one of the floor staff with a big smile and I felt easy right away.
Can you describe when you both met each other for the first time and how you liked working together?
MP: I met Darren, Romeo and the store manager at the time, and we went out the back to have a chat. My first thought was ‘Well, wasn’t expecting a bearded tattooed geezer in a fancy place like this! Then I was just hoping they all took to me. But what I found with Darren was a guy with so much passion for the industry as a whole and so eager to teach, which was amazing for me. Looking back on what he has taught me over the years I am eternally grateful, I honestly wouldn’t have an inch of my knowledge without his mentoring. As Daz says ‘’Forever a student’’.
DO: I met Micky the day he came in to Victor Churchill just before he started. We sat with our store manager at the time and Romeo for a quick catch up and chat. I sensed immediately that Micky was the real deal. Humble, polite and full of pride. We started working together the next week which was the beginning of Danny’s last month before retirement. It was a joy to work next to Micky. All the initial impressions I had formed about Micky on day one were proven true and then some. Micky was ready to work and ready to become what has proven to be a vital and intrinsic part of the team.
Tell us about your favourite memory at Victor Churchill.
DO: Too many to isolate just one. Meeting Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Oprah, Anthony Bourdain, Fergus Henderson, Alex Atala, almost every major player in the Australian food scene. Our 5th birthday celebrations, being there for almost 10 years, I could go on and on…
MP: Probably the same as Darren to be honest, the 5th birthday celebrations. It really hit home how huge and relevant Victor Churchill is at that moment, pretty much every legendary Australian chef in the building doing a small sit-down meal. Epic really. Oh, and meeting Gordon Ramsey, for obvious reasons, and that I got to tell him we are from the same town in the UK!
What’s next? What are you hoping is in store for you or for Victor Churchill in the years to come?
MP: Honestly, my immediate thinking is being the Head Butcher, making sure the standard of Victor Churchill continues at the highest level, I am very proud of my role… in the future, who knows to be honest. What I do know is it’s a large, great family business to work for and it promotes growth from within so it’s great to know that.
DO: I’m excited to see Victor Churchill and the team continue to grow, evolve and push boundaries as it always has done. For it continue to be the driving force behind a change of attitude and awareness around butchery, consumption and transparency of our amazing industry. To keep bringing the old attributes of the local butcher back into people’s minds and making them not only want to buy their meat from local butchers, but for it to be the only option! For me I’m excited for the challenges that my new role is presenting me and the new paths it will inevitably lead me down. Still excited to be learning and sharing every day. Forever a student.