Meet Charlie Choak, Te Pasty Bloke

Words by Josephine Walbank. Photography by Anya Bryan F

or centuries now, pasties have been the undisputed, iconic Cornish delicacy; crisp shortcrust pastry encasing a tempting combination

of beef, potatoes, swede and onion. Charlie Choak, known locally as ‘Te Pasty Bloke’, teaches the art of traditional pasty-making from his store in the heart of Falmouth. Tis year, JH&M Choak celebrates 70 years of trading and Josephine Walbank was given the task of finding out more about this quintessential Cornish treat... Since he was just 5 years old,

divide his time between college and working with his father. Ever since, he’s been running the company and making pasties. Very little has changed over the years and

Charlie Choak has been making traditional Cornish pasties at the store his father founded back in 1948: JH&M Choak. As we sat in the storefront, with his dog Coco Chanel, we joked with the other members of staff and I watched on as a huge row of traditional steak pasties was being made. Troughout my visit, many locals popped in and out of the shop; stopping for a chat and leaving with their lunches in hand. Te scene was quintessentially Cornish, and, true to form, it was clear that everybody present was very proud of that fact. As we spoke, Charlie reminisced how it

was his mother who first taught him to make pasties in the store; remembering how he had to stand on an up-turned bucket to even reach the counter. At just 14, he leſt school to


“Most of them just

Charlie shows evident satisfaction in being able to state that the pasties have remained almost exactly the same over 70 years in trade. According to the professional pasty maker, the only real change that they have made is time- dependent, revolving around the types of meat used. “When I started making pasties

want to watch you make a proper pasty,

by hand, from scratch”

all those years ago, we used to use minced mutton. Bet you don’t even know what mutton is?” he laughs, “It was cheap rubbish really, but that’s what pasties were made of back then. Ten we went to using minced meat, and now of course we use diced skirting (which is a cut of steak). It’s much better stuff, because

now people want better quality, but they’re willing to pay for it. People don’t mind paying for quality these days. Pasties used to be cheap because people couldn’t really afford anything more, they were cheap things, so this has made a big difference.” Pasties originated as a meal for workers to

take with them to the tin mines, with the meal pre-wrapped, as it were, using the pastry. Te classic thick crust was also, originally, meant to be discarded too, as its purpose was just to

provide a way to not contaminate the food when holding it. Now, they are firmly established as a staple British food and a popular main meal choice. Pasties come in all shapes and sizes, with new variations of fillings and options to cater for veggies and vegans too. When I asked about variants in the types of

pasties that he’s made and sold over the years, Charlie told a surprising story. “We make corned beef ones sometimes!” he explained, “A friend of mine came up with the idea aſter he told me a story about his Grandparents. He said that just aſter the war, since you couldn’t get beef, people were having corned beef instead. His Gran used to make her own corned beef pasties for her husband, which he kept having even aſter the

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