A galaxy of gastronomic galacticos from major Hong Kong and Macau food destinations flew in for a HCC farm to fork tour of the home of Welsh Lamb to help boost far east exports.
The five-strong study group visited farms, processors, restaurants and butchers and included Albert Au Kwok Keung, the youngest ever three Michelin star Chinese cuisine chef, who was left “inspired” by the visit. "No wonder Welsh Lamb is recognised as the best lamb in the world. This trip was very educational and inspired me in my ongoing career and menu planning,” he said.
The whistle-stop, three day fact-finding visit to Wales was hosted by Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).
Mr. Albert Au Kwok Keung, Executive Chef of Lai Sun F&B Management Group (Chinese Division) was joined by Mr. Kevin Lee, Service Manager (Kitchen) of Island Shangri-La; Mr. Calvin Soh, Director, Culinary Operations (Food & Beverage), City of Dreams Macau; and Mr. Kenneth Law, Executive Chef (Food & Beverage), Studio City Macau. They are all top quality chefs and industry leaders and well-respected within the dining communities of the Pacific Rim destinations.
“It was a fascinating and productive study tour,” said Deanna Leven, HCC’s Export Market Development Executive. “HCC has worked with all of these chefs to advise on premium Welsh Lamb and its PGI status; they had indicated that the farm to fork experience would be of great importance to the development of further business and we were delighted to help out.
“They said they needed to understand more about the provenance of the meat and really develop the narrative, and the visit did just that,” said Ms Leven. ”We’re now putting together a structural support package that will arm these new Welsh Lamb ambassadors to help spread the word in this key export destination.”
The programme opened with host Welsh Lamb Club Chef Tim McDougall staging a chef butchery demonstration at the Llansantffraed Court Hotel near Abergavenny.
“Tim gave a cutting demonstration of how he bones and prepares the whole Welsh Lamb shoulder and then prepared lunch for the group using the results,” said Ms. Leven.
It was followed by a farm visit at Raglan, where HCC Board member Graham Probert and his family discussed the traditions of Welsh farming, Welsh climate and native pastures at his 250-acre lowland Welsh Lamb and beef farm.
Welsh Lamb Club chef Steven Terry of the Hardwick, Abergavenny, discussed using Welsh Lamb with the group, who then visited the Llanidloes farm of Huw Tudor and the nearby abattoir of Randall Parker Foods.
"This intense trip from gate to plate really helped us to understand how Welsh Lamb is raised, born and slaughtered in Wales under PGI standard. This accreditation cannot be granted without a natural environment like Wales,” said Mr. Calvin Soh.
The group also enjoyed a tasting menu produced by David Kelman, the Executive Head Chef at the three AA rosette Welsh Lamb Club member Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham. The group undertook a cutting plant visit to the Andover plant of Randall Parker Foods and attended a kitchen demonstration and meal prepared by Welsh Lamb Club Chef Adam Hilliard, the Head Chef at Frederick’s in London.
"We enjoyed meeting farmers, butchers and chefs. The whole experience blended with rich culture and heritage and this is what inspired me the most,” said Mr. Kenneth Law.
"Thanks to HCC for organising such an unforgettable experience for us. Taking different butchering demonstrations and visiting slaughtering plants enlightened my view and ideas in utilising new cuts in my culinary journey,” said Mr. Kevin Lee.