Wiltshire butchers organise grass roots visit for caterers

Wiltshire butchers organise grass roots visit for caterers

Putting people back in touch with where their food comes from has been a major ambition for Devizes butcher, Steve Cook – but he has just managed to achieve it by taking over 70 chefs and catering managers from across the South of England on to the Wiltshire beef farm where he buys his cattle.

Steve, who owns butchers Walter Rose and Sons which he runs in partnership with his family, said it had been a long held desire to put together a day which could tell the whole story of the meat they sell.

“We talk about quality and taste and texture, we tell our customers about the importance of buying locally raised, naturally fed animals and how careful management and butchery of the carcass adds the magic to the story but we wanted to be able to walk and talk them through the whole process; to let them see and hear the reality – and it was a cracker of a day, a real runaway success,” he said.

The event, which was held at farmer Tim Johnson’s Stokes Marsh Farm near Devizes, was organised by Walter Rose and Son in conjunction with Tim and Catherine Johnson and supported by EBLEX. Chefs from as far away as the Midlands and London – as well as managers caterers and chefs representing Wadworths outlets – spent the day strolling through fields, mixing with the cattle and hearing about the importance of quality grass in their diet before watching a masterclass in butchery demonstrated by Paul Underwood and Jack Cook from Walter Rose.

There was a blind tasting session offering caterers the chance to taste the difference between meat hung for a week, two weeks and three weeks – and to watch Eblex Foodservice Project Manager Hugh Judd provide a cookery demonstration featuring different styles of cooking from Barbecue to water bath.

“It was an amazing day; many of these people were experiencing the rearing process for the first time and gained an understanding of the hard work and care that goes into rearing these animals. We were also able to demonstrate why we choose particular breeds and a particular style of animal in order to provide the finest quality on the plate and to give them a personal and first hand experience of the unique relationship we have with our key suppliers,” said Steve.

Farmer Tim Johnson said he was over the moon at the responses he had from some of the visitors: “Hopefully all of them took away a far better understanding of the work that goes in to producing top quality, tender and tasty beef. From our point of view, being able to show the people who are selling our product to the public in their pubs and restaurants is a vital part of the story.”

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