For the second of my meet the producers interviews I chatted to Stephen King, the man behind a promising new company, The Paleo Broth Company.
Stephen is a professional chef who undertook his training at the renowned Glen Eagles Hotel where, as a young apprentice, it was his job to taste test the refrigerated stock every morning – someone had to make sure it was fit for the clientele to eat! You might imagine that sampling fish stock first thing in the morning might not be the best way to start the working day, and from his description it’s clear that this was the kind of job that had to be endured rather than enjoyed! Yet more than 35 years later, the gelatinous brew has become his livelihood. Looking back Stephen wishes he’d taken more of the broth back then and realised its healing potential as it might have saved him from a life of often debilitating illness.
… Stephen came across the Paleo diet by chance – an acupuncturist friend had been researching Paleo and mentioned that it might be worth him giving it a try. After 6 months of following a strict Paleo diet of no grains, no sugar, and minimal starches Stephen saw a dramatic improvement in his health.
Gut problems run in Stephen’s family; his mother suffered from ulcerative colitis, eventually losing her bowel to the disease, she didn’t let it beat her though and went on to have 4 children. Unfortunately Stephen inherited his mother’s condition and over the years suffered many unpleasant ulcerative colitis episodes. Even though the illness grew worse over the years, just like his mother he didn’t let it stop him and he travelled the length and breadth of the world as an international chef. He’d go into remission from the disease for months or even years and then experience a flare up which would mean bed rest and having to pump his body full of steroids to control the disease.
In 2000, having endured hospitalisation followed by lengthy bed rest, Stephen and his wife Christine came back to the UK where they bought and ran a popular gastro pub until 2004, at which point the ulcerative colitis finally called time on his career. The pub was sold, the couple moved to Hebden Bridge, and following the birth of their daughter Stephen took on the role of house father as his illness had now left him too ill to go out to work.
As is so often the case Stephen came across the Paleo diet by chance – an acupuncturist friend who treated him for his colitis had been researching Paleo and mentioned that it might be worth him giving it a try. After 6 months of following a strict Paleo diet of no grains, no sugar, and minimal starches Stephen saw a dramatic improvement in his health. Things were about to get even better for him though; following a suggestion from a friend Stephen went back to his apprentice roots and started making and consuming his own bone broth. The results were all the proof that was needed and very soon friends were asking him to supply them with their own broth; and so, as often happens, what had effectively been a hobby grew into a business.
At the time of our interview The Paleo Broth Company had been running for 2 weeks and already looks set to become a very successful concern with an unexpectedly high volume of orders within that two week period.
The broth is made in a specially equipped kitchen within a unit in a local co-operative where it is cooked for 48 hours. Stephen is very aware of the problems many people have with allergens and so keeps his broth as simple as possible, containing just locally farmed, grassfed beef bones, pink salt, onions, and water. Specialist order requests have already come in – one customer needed a broth made without onions but was unable to source any so Stephen happily obliged. Another customer required a chlorine free broth; a more complicated process requiring special filtration, something most companies wouldn’t even consider supplying. The Paleo Broth Company isn’t most companies though – I get the impression that Stephen is a man who really cares, not just about the quality of his product but also about his customers. Like many people who end up setting up a business in a specialist food market Stephen’s experience of health problems means his customers can be confident that their needs are taken seriously and really understood.
The bones used for the broth come from a local farmer who has been farming for over 40 years on the farm that has been in his family for over 200 years. Whilst not officially certified organic, the farmer considers his farm to be organic and it certainly sounds as though Stephen has done his due diligence in finding a reputable supplier.
It’s unimaginable that anyone within the primal and Paleo community hasn’t heard about the healing powers of bone broth but talking to someone who is a real life testament to the theory is quite something. If Stephen doesn’t take his daily cup of broth he notices deterioration in his health within only a day or two! The steroids that he took over the years took their toll on his body, leaving him with joint problems and the stiffening up of his elbows and knees is the warning sign that reminds him to get back to his cup of broth. The extremely gelatinous broth is the perfect way of getting a health giving balance of proline and glycine – two amino acids that are key components of a plethora of important bodily functions. I was kindly sent samples of the broth and whilst I can’t see it replacing my morning cup of tea any time soon it was certainly very pleasant to drink and it makes exceptionally tasty soup.
The broth is available in two sizes – 200ml and 1 litre pouches. 200ml is enough for one mug and is the perfect size to pop into your bag when you go to the gym, for a quick and easy work lunch, or to take when visiting non-Paleo friends – thus saving the problem of what to eat! The 1 litre pouch provides 5 days worth of broth, sits easily in the door of the fridge, and reseals very simply with the screw top lid. The frozen broth comes in BPA free pouches via courier and is well packaged in innovative wool packaging and ice packs, meaning the pouches arrive frozen giving you the option of keeping them for a later date, rather than defrosting and using immediately. Shelf life testing has shown that the broth, once defrosted, is good for 7 days but to err on the side of caution Stephen recommends it is consumed within 5. In order to make sure that your broth reaches you in the best condition Stephen prefers not to send out any deliveries after Wednesday in case unexpected delays leave it defrosting over the weekend and arriving unfit for consumption. A 200ml pouch costs £3.25 and the 1l pouch is currently £14.95, though it is hoped that this price will reduce in the near future – so get buying now and help reduce the costs!
Products to look out for: Stephen is currently investigating ways of selling his fabulously tasty beef dripping, so do keep an eye open for that appearing as it is rather wonderful.
If you’d like to see what else Stephen and the Paleo Broth Company have in line then check out the links below: