'There is a team of about four guys and the only prerequisite is that they have done their level three food safety and hygiene training,' he explains. 'We do a 200kg pig once a month: the kitchen downstairs is cleaned and sterilised, the boys are rota-ed on, and it usually takes us six to eight hours to convert the whole thing into charcuterie items.'
Recently he has expanded his repertoire to include venison and, interestingly, goat, which he finds 'lends itself very well to being cured', and uses to make 'a very beautiful, deep, burgundy-coloured salami spiced with rosemary.'
Luke believes that a solid understanding of the scientific principles behind fermenting meat is necessary before trying to do it out for yourself, explaining how he has used his own understanding of mould growth to create the perfect environment in which to hang the meat.
'In the smokehouse, over the years, we have developed the right type of mould and spores in the wood and we never really have the smokehouse empty. So there are all these salamis passing on the mould to the next batch. What we are essentially doing is trying to convert the dextrose (sugars) into lactic acids and that process is represented by mould growth.'
He is stumped, though, as to why Britain is so far behind the rest of Europe.
'It’s ironic we haven’t had a bigger charcuterie production in this country. Especially since legend has it that the Romans got the idea for dry-cured ham from Wales. We held meetings here with the local pork farmers to encourage them to go into charcuterie because it’s the preservation of meats and it adds better pound value to each pound of pork you produce.'
Perhaps we can learn from countries like France and Italy to inform our own versions?
'I’m not entirely sure. When we’ve been to Italy to have a look around it’s been a bit of a guarded secret what the exact recipes were!'
Ben Dulley, head chef at Emily Watkins’ The Kingham Plough, used to hold down a job in IT, but is now another chef for whom charcuterie has become more than a hobby. Under his expert guidance, the Oxfordshire pub now serve their own in-house venison salami and Ben is intent on stepping up their output further.
'I hope to keep playing with it and take it as far as I can. Obviously first and foremost I’m a chef but whenever I can fit in the charcuterie I try to. My perfect meal would always include charcuterie so it’s one of the elements I need to be good at. With the salami we started with a really strong product and improved it from there… we’re hoping to enter it into the Great Taste Awards to prove how good it is.'
But developing charcuterie at Kingham has never been straightforward, as the chef explains.
'It’s always a bit of a challenge trying to get the space to do it properly; we’ve ended up adapting the spaces we’ve got. What I have to do when I want to make a batch of salami, which requires a couple of days of fermentation (high humidity and high temperature), is book out one of the annexe bedrooms at the B&B for three or four days and adapt it; get it up to temperature, get a humidifier in there and so on. Afterwards the housekeeper always shouts at me because the sheets and curtains smell of salami!'