Top chefs want more British food on their menus because the quality of British produce is genuinely the best, and because consumers are demanding it, two London chefs have told farmers.
John Williams, executive chef at the Ritz, and his counterpart at Claridge’s, Martyn Nail, gave their resounding support for British food during a meeting in London with three farmers, John Geldard, Frank Langrish and Mike Powley.
The aim of the meeting was to help farmers and chefs better under-stand the two extremes of the food chain.
When asked if the chefs have enough information on the produce they receive, Mr Nail replied: “The more we know the better. It gives us an edge.”
“I want to know where it has been grown, how, what breed and the ageing,” added Mr Williams.
Mr Geldard, pointed to the alarming decline in British lamb production: “We have seen production come down from 21m to 14m ewes. Rising input costs are simply driving farmers out.
“The number of cull ewes is double this year and breeding sales are well down because the figures just don’t stack up.”
Hearing this, Mr Williams said customers were unaware of the plight of British sheep farmers and that the food industry must stand up and tell consumers there was a cost to using British food.
“You won’t get the price to do the job properly until the customer is educated,” said Mr Williams.
“Hotels these days only use prime cuts. Lamb – best ends, legs and saddles they don’t want to know the rest. What’s interesting as the recession pushes in, is you will see people using the other cuts.”
Mike Powley, who started a box beef scheme to get round the problems of choice cuts, agreed: “Consumers’ are rediscovering cuts their grandmothers used to cook.”
- Martyn Nail, Executive Chef, Claridges
- John Williams, Executive Chef, Ritz, Chairman of the Academy of Culinary Arts
- The Farmers
- John Geldard, Cumbrian beef, sheep and poultry producer
- Frank Langrish, East Sussex sheep farmer
- Mike Powley, Yorks beef farmer
Chefs’ advice to farmers:
- Market British produce as best, not local
- Get better butchery and proper meat ageing
- Take more control of the supply chain
- Look to French poultry breeds and rearing
- Educate consumers about the cost of eating good quality food