Jon Toy studied history at Goldsmith’s and lived in Brockley in his early twenties. Studying did not really agree with him, he admits.
He left, settled in West London and got a job in advertising sales with the Guardian. “But to be honest that didn’t really agree with me either.”
But now he’s back in south east London – as Ladywell’s local butcher – and excited about the future.
In mid-April he took possession of Heckstall & Smiths and fulfilled one of his big ambitions – owning and running his own business.
“I had always thought I could run my own business by the age of 30 – I’m 31. Almost made it,” he smiles.
After the Guardian he decided he wanted to do something with food. “I like food!”. But he was allergic to fish, especially shellfish, so running a fishmongers was out.
Running a bakery would have meant getting up far too early. “ And I was too old to start to train as a chef”.
So he decided to become a butcher. He worked with friends at Provenance Village Butcher in Notting Hill, learning some of the business basics.
He did a short apprenticeship at Hammonds, a top quality butcher and deli in Kew, to really learn the trade.
After that he worked in several butchers around London before managing one of Ginger Pig’s shops for almost four years.
When he saw that Heckstall & Smith was up for sale he decided this was his chance.
He liked the business, it was focused on farm suppliers known for good animal husbandry and a passion for sustainable rare breeds, and he knew the area.
Jon says his aim is to continue to sell “high welfare” produce from his suppliers in the Wirral, Yorkshire and Essex. And he is convinced he can show local people that good meat does not “have to cost the earth”.
He hopes to be able to work with community groups, helping to run events such as BBQs. He also like the idea of a street party next to his shop in Gillian Street.
With Michael, his master butcher, in support, Jon is excited about the potential for his high street butchers shop. “I’m looking forward to learning more about Ladywell and meeting more of the locals.”