24 August 2001

Chef buys British

A HILL farmer who persuaded top chef Marco Pierre White to buy his lambs rather than import animals from the Pyrenees is encouraging other farmers to follow his lead and find new domestic markets.

John Warmerdam of Lochgilphead, Argyll, managed to find an outlet for his Scottish Blackface lambs which he feared would be impossible to sell because of the export ban imposed due to foot-and-mouth disease.

Mr Warmerdam contacted Mr Whites new restaurant in Knightsbridge after discovering that it was importing Pyrenean light lamb legs. He believed his own lambs, which have a unique flavour thanks to the natural herbs and heather on which they graze, would prove just as suitable.

A trial run proved successful and the restaurant has now agreed to buy the entire flock of 100 light mountain lambs. "I am extremely pleased with this result, said Mr Warmerdam. &#42

"My intention was to promote the heritage of the hillsides and to save the lambs from unnecessary waste.

"It had been my belief for years that the quality and taste of this breed of Scottish Blackface mountain lamb as deserving of marketing in its own right and the export restrictions provided me with the perfect opportunity to do this." &#42