Eating quality should define British beef, according to 2009 Masterchef champion Mat Follas. He and the Farmers Weekly’s Farmer of the Year Scottish farmer, Adrian Ivory, have spent two days in each other’s worlds of top chef and beef farmer.

Having seen first-hand Adrian’s beef production business near Perth in Scotland, Mat is convinced that British farmers are missing an opportunity to differentiate their produce and gain valuable premiums.

Speaking outside his new restaurant last night, the Wild Garlic in Beaminster, Mat said: “Adrian is producing beef to a very high standard only to find it is lost amongst everything else when it leaves the abattoir simply branded Scotch beef”

He challenges the industry to adopt the Australian approach which rewards farmers for the quality of cut and tenderness, delivering a more consistent product for the consumer.

Adrian had spent the day with Mat visiting his suppliers for the new restaurant., which doesn’t currently include a local beef farmer.

Instead he has turned to water buffalo produced locally by Jane and Tony Corpe at nearby Lower Oakley Farm, Chilthorne Domer. “It’s a fantastic meat and if it is cooked slowly at a low temperature you can eat with a teaspoon,” says Mat.

Adrian’s experience of shadowing Mat leading up to the launch of his new restaurant revealed a high risk, constantly changing world: “Less than a week to launch and Mat’s meat and fish suppliers in Beaminster have both gone bust. So today we have visited his replacement suppliers. It’s been fascinating to witness how he is making such huge decisions on his feet, virtually every hour, every day.”

Does Adrian support Mat’s view on rewarding farmers for eating quality? “Unfortunately in the UK, our system is geared towards speed and scale simply to serve commodity demand and it doesn’t allow us to differentiate in that way. 

Supplying a niche market, such as the water buffalo is high risk and you are exposed to the fickleness of consumers and chefs. I run a system of low risk and low return but it is constant and I can budget long term. Mat’s restaurant is quite the reverse – high risk, high return.”

You can see the photos of Mat and Adrian’s visits to each other businesses on FWiSpace
http://www.fwi.co.uk/community/photos/masterchef/default.aspx

http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2009/05/22/115751/masterchef-drops-in-on-master-farmer.html

Read about the two days Mat and Adrian spent in each other’s business in Food Chain, September 4 Farmers Weekly.