Jennifer MacKenzie is an agricultural photo journalist with almost 30 year's experience. Operating from her base in Cumbria, Jennifer undertakes mainly industry-related freelance writing and photography.

Top Chefs dine on Lakeland Beef

Quality beef from Cumbria was on the menu for 700 guests at a prestigious event in London, The Craft Guild of Chefs Awards 2005.

lakeland beefLakeland Beef fillet steaks were supplied by Pioneer Foodservice, of Carlisle, for the Ruby anniversary of the awards held at the London Hilton Metropole, attended by top chefs, industry leaders and culinary experts from across the UK.

At the heart of the Craft Guild’s activities is the promotion of culinary art and 12 awards were presented at the dinner, including lifetime achievement awards to the famous Roux brothers.

Responsible for the main course of seared fillet of Lakeland Beef marinated in lemon balm, described as “a fanfare for British food” was Nigel Frost, the Hilton Metropole Hotel’s head chef who is responsible for a team of 70-plus chefs.

Pioneer Foodservice, in a partnership with Carlisle based livestock auctioneers Harrison & Hetherington and abattoir firm Rose County Foods, of Sawley, has been successfully building on the Lakeland brand and Lakeland Beef is now recognised regionally, opening the door for it to become a nationally sought-after brand.

Pioneer was approached by the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) to supply the fillet steaks for the awards dinner.

Pioneer Foodservice sales representative Maxine Fairley and area sales manager for the Lake District Paul Atkinson

Pioneer’s commercial director Barry Garrett, who attended the awards dinner, said: “It was wonderful to be asked to take these steaks to the capital. EBLEX has a tremendous respect for the Lakeland brand which they see as actually working and that the three partners are there to make it as successful as possible, both regionally and nationally.”

The steaks were personally delivered in an early morning journey two days before the dinner by Pioneer’s quality control manager Simon Gate, who is a butcher by trade.

Recognising that consumers now understand and respect the quality of their food and they want to know its passage from farm gate to plate, a main selling point of the Lakeland brand has been in the authenticity and traceability of the meat.

“Simon took with him all the information on the farmers and farms who have supplied the beef and when it was put through the system which received tremendous comments from Nigel Frost,” said Mr Garrett.

“Each of the chefs responsible for the courses before they were served described by a video link from the kitchen their preparations and in the case of Lakeland Beef Nigel was able to describe the provenance of the meat in great detail,” he added.

Large numbers of cattle from the CA and LA postcode areas of Cumbria are now being processed through the Lakeland Beef scheme, either being procured with Harrison & Hetherington direct from the farm or through the sale ring.

In June an average of 100 head of cattle were being processed per week and more and more producers want to take part in the supply chain.

Pioneer takes ownership of the whole carcase and the resultant consistency of the product is a further huge selling point.

Following on from a successful two year pilot scheme, Pioneer is now starting to source significant numbers of lamb for its complementary venture, Lakeland Lamb.

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