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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's recession has prompted a wave of self-help trends ranging from bee-keeping to growing vegetables -- and one of the fastest growing is DIY butchery.
Witness the Ginger Pig butcher's shop in the fashionable Marylebone area of London, where nine men and three women, dressed in white coats stained with blood, are learning the tricks of the trade.
Some just want to know more about food, others are City high-fliers with time on their hands.
They pay 120 pounds ($195) for a three-hour class, complete with beaujolais and lamb stew afterwards.
"They want something new to do and something cheaper than expensive restaurants," says shop manager Perry Bartlett.
"They come here and cook an equally good meal and have an education as well about meat.
"We have people from all walks of life. We've had surgeons, dentists, doctors, and normal people from down the street ... and lots and lots of girls."
The shop opened in 2003 and gets organic meat from the Ginger Pig farm in North Yorkshire, where rare breeds such as Longhorn and Belted Galloway cattle, and Tamworth pigs are reared.
Bartlett plans to build a bigger classroom holding up to 20 students, and expects strong demand in the run-up to Christmas.
In the current economic climate, he said more and more city bankers and businessmen were looking for fun and social gatherings.
"It was a birthday gift from my girlfriend," said Mark Mcardle, a 22-year old private banker, standing in front of pig carcasses hanging from hooks in the shop.
"She is not here tonight, but she thought it would be a good gift for me to become a professional butcher, so I'll have a go at it."
Borut Kozelj, Bartlett's assistant, holds a Master's degree from a butchery school in Slovenia and is one of about 20 butchers working at the Ginger Pig.
"The business is exploding," he said. "More people want to cook at home in the recession, eat fresher meat and know where it is produced."
Participants learn about different cuts of meat, how to prepare fillet, sirloin, rump or rib eye, and can take their juicy piece home afterwards.
Editing by Steve Addison