LOOKING back you could say it all started at Butlin’s holiday resort in Minehead.

For Raymond Robinson, this was the start of his career in the catering industry as this was where he got his first job as a waiter.

The lad from Liverpool, came down to Somerset not long after leaving school having been on a YTS scheme for engineering.

As he said: “I knew I had to get out of Liverpool to make it as there was so much unemployment there at the time.

“I got a job as a waiter at Butlin’s as loved every minute I was there for three years. It was my first job in the catering business.

“This (Somerset) is now my home.

“While I like going back to Liverpool, I don’t have any family there and look forward to coming back home.”

Where has it lead Raymond? It has seen him establish Robinson’s Smokehouse at The Old Haybarn, Morrish Farm, West Buckland.

He explained the idea for Robinson’s Smokehouse was conceived in 2013 and with the mentoring of Ronni Buckley who ran Richardson’s Smokehouse in Suffolk.

Raymond then set up his business in 2015 after eight months practicing and perfecting his food smoking skills.

Speaking about this practice time he said: “It was all a learning process and that length of time allowed me to be 95 per cent perfect when I started.

“After that it was a case of putting things into practice I had learnt and used all the knowledge I had learnt during this period and the 10-12 years before reading all about it.

“I have always loved smoked food and this is a chance to share my passion with other people.

“When I look at introducing something new I always test it myself to see if it will work and to get it right.

This has lead to an impressive array of products on offer including:

n Smoked dry cured English bacon

n Smoked ham

n Smoked chicken

n Smoked pigeon

n Smoked slipper joints

n Smoked wild Duck

n Smoked partridge (in season)

n Smoked sausages in a wide variety of flavour

n Oak smoked kipper

n Smoked mackerel

n Smoked haddock fillets

n Smoked local Somerset trout

n Smoked prawns

n Smoked salmon

n Smoked black and white pudding (gluten free also available).

n giant smoked Garlic bulbs

n Smoked butter if requested

n Smoked cheese

n Smoked Glastonbury

n Smoked Cheddar

n Smoked Exmoor blue

n Smoked long clauston Stilton

n Smoked ham hocks (marinated in treacle, brown sugar, Somerset cider and mustard).

Raymond uses a traditional method of smoking his food.

He does not use smoke flavoured chippings rather uses the traditional method of using solid green oak which is moist with leaves and moss.

It gives it a unique smokey taste.

There are two sides to our Smokehouse:-The hot side for cooking and smoking the produce.

The cold side is used to enhance the product flavour. Both sides of the Smokehouse provide food with a fabulous smoked flavour.

Raymond has been selling oil and olive oils in the catering trade for 15 years so when he decided to start scaling down his work this change was as he said ‘A big leap’.

He explained: “Before I started this business I wanted to be ready.

“That is why I made sure I got the knowledge and set it up myself.

“I had been thinking about doing is for up to 15 years but then decided if I did not take the plunge when would I be ready.

“It was a big leap into the unknown but I thought with the experience I had then I could make it work.

“I was using a traditional method of smoking which gives the food more flavour and makes it taste more complex.

“When I get some Wild Pacific Salmon which is deep red and more like a Tuna steak, I sell out of it almost immediately.

“Something like an Arctic Char I marinate in honey with soya sauce. An Arctic Char is in between a sea trout and a salmon

“The feedback from customers has been great and many people appreciate what I do and are regular customers.

“I do get great satisfaction doing what I do.

“Doing this job has certainly made me happier.

“I am defiantly more relaxed and do not get so stressed.

“I am glad it made the change otherwise it might have been too late

All the items which Raymond smoked are vacuum packed.

It means what ever he smokes and then vacuum packed so it stays as fresh as when it was smoked.

It then has a shelf live of at least a month and can be longer when frozen.

You can find out more about Robinson’s Smokehouse by going to the farm shop in West Buckland.

Shoppers can order online at robinsonssmokehouse.co.uk or you can email hello@robinsonssmokehouse.co.uk or call 01823 666205.

You also visit his stall at Taunton Farmers’ Market in the centre of Taunton on Thursdays.