Our Passion is our ethos...
If we were to use one word which sums up Vincent and I, it would be the word 'passion.' Passionate about one another, passionate about our home and family and passionate about our work!
Our backgrounds are simple and hard-working. I was raised on the outskirts of Glasgow, a city girl, but fortunate to have parents who, each weekend, would take my brothers and I to their holiday home in Dumfries and Galloway where, one day, I met Vincent.
Although a trained artist and designer, I was once a Food Home Economist for a large frozen food company. This was to spark my initial interest in food development and eventually, play a key role in the creation of Marrbury Smokehouse and many of its products.
Vincent, born to Tom and Nickie Marr in Palnure by the Cree, had salmon in his blood literally from birth! Tom and Nickie (as Tom's parents did before him) fished the Cree Estuary by traditional 'Net and Coble' and, by the age of two years, Vincent was already learning how to "string" his own net. As a young man, Vincent was the Head Smoker in his brother's large smoking operation which, in 1994, was sold to a Norwegian group. Part of the sell-out deal was that Vincent would remain as Chief Smoker and, for a while, he was happy to continue doing so.
Soon, however, it became apparent that profit and yield were, by far, more important to the Norwegians than quality and consistency. This made Vincent totally miserable, so much so that, one day, I looked at the space we had in our garden and pronounced, "Okay, why don't WE do it ourselves?"
Once the decision was made, we put heart and soul into creating a tiny but magical smokehouse. Selling everything we could to raise funds, we acquired planning consents, a small kiln and all the necessary equipment to go into production.
Our smokehouse was a tiny 8 x 10 tin shed, but those who visited it named it "The Tardis" for, inside, was a mini stainless steel factory capable of producing what was to become the world's very best smoked salmon!
The name "Marrbury" is an anagram of our names, "Marr", of course Vincent's surname, and "bury", an anagram of Ruby.
From the outset, we aimed high! We knew we had a product which was truly special and one that great chefs would want to buy. I headed for "One Devonshire Gardens" in Glasgow (at that time, the top establishment in the city) and, sample bag in hand, knocked on the kitchen door of the Michelin-starred Chef Andrew Fairlie. Andrew gave me two minutes during which I more or less thrust a few slices of smoked salmon at him!
The rest, of course, is history.
Andrew came very quickly on board and other amazing chefs such as Andy Cumming of Rogano and Derek Marshall of Gamba soon followed suit. Before we knew it, we had the who's who in the catering industry all crying out for Marrbury Smoked Salmon.
Over the years, we have moved premises twice, settling finally in our home here at Bargrennan. Carsluith Castle has become our second home and any of you who have visited will know how wonderful the ambience is there. We have refused time after time to enter award competitions. Our award is the constant flow of traffic that comes through our doors. The look on someone's face when they taste Marrbury for the first time never fails to lift our hearts!
The friends we have met over the years and the unsolicited reviews we receive in worldwide publications bring joy to our hearts. Our pleasure at Marrbury smoked salmon being chosen as the starter course to feed HM Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and eight world leaders and their wives will always be our proudest moment, although chatting over champagne with Prince Andrew comes a close second!
Despite our success, we are still Ruby and Vincent. You will often find either of us at Carsluith, cleaning tables, chatting to visitors and doing whatever essential job is required to ensure our guests are comfortable.
Our daughter Kimberley grew up with Marrbury Smokehouse and, with the experience she gained, as well as her University Degree, is now a young married lady and Operations Manager of an amazing beach resort in the Cayman Islands. How proud we are of her!
To this day, Vincent and I remain hands-on. During the festive delivery process, it is me personally who puts that last piece of tape on a parcel. I will not allow any one parcel to leave the smokehouse without having personally checked it!
Many of you receive little scribbled personal notes which I put in at the last minute and, as many of you know, at Christmas time I often spend my evenings catching up on the phone with what's been happening with you and your family.
This passion Vincent and I have is our driving force. The endless hours we do, the months on end without days off, are all down to the passion we have for our food.
We are proud of our foods, and proud that, to this day, no person other than Vincent will smoke Marrbury Produce. We hope you too will become passionate about Marrbury Smokehouse!