Steak in the future sought by high flying butcher

A high-flying butcher from Mold will take to the skies this week to search out Stateside the specialist skills behind a range of new shopper-friendly succulent steaks.

Peter Rushforth, of Swan’s Farm Shop at Treuddyn, near Mold, has been awarded a Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Scholarship to enable him to spend a month in the USA studying the cutting edge of beef butchery.

In a short but already accomplished career, Peter, 21, has racked up nearly as many butchery awards as he has lamb chops; Worldskills UK champion, Young Butcher of the Year, and HCC’s Welsh Young Butcher Champion in both 2014 and 2015.

He leaves Thursday (February 2) to visit the Meat Animal Research Centre at Nebraska University. Then it’s onto Portland, Oregon, home of Olympia Provisions and charcuterie specialists Tails & Trotters; to Gary West Meats in Jacksonville, Oregon before finally visiting the farm-to-restaurant set up at Belcampo Meats in Santa Monica, California.

“I am interested in both adding value to the forequarter – finding alternatives to the traditional mince usage – and also looking to diversify into cooked and cured meats alongside our premium fresh Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef products.” said Peter.

He will explore recent US trends to produce a wider range of forequarter steaks by combining good butcher’s skills with modern consumer needs. “Possibly the best known of these alternative steak cuts is the Flat Iron, which comes from the shoulder blade. It has more marbling than sirloin which means it needs to be carefully cut and then cooked appropriately – but it tastes great and is half the cost of sirloin.”

Peter wants to learn the new butchery skills to make these steaks in Mold from prime Welsh beef carcases. “A good butcher can add £300 to a beef carcase by maximising the quality cuts and minimising waste. By utilising these American-style cuts I can add a further 20-30 per cent to the forequarter, bringing better returns to the whole supply chain,” he said.

Peter will return on March 6 to submit a full report of his findings to HCC and then hold a number of speaking engagements throughout the year to pass on his experiences to other industry professionals. He will also join a very exclusive club - HCC’s past Scholars.

James Ruggeri, HCC’s Industry Development Executive, said: “The HCC Scholarship Association now includes 49 people who have visited countries across the world. They have brought back a wealth of experience which is being shared with their peers in Wales.”