Top chef hits the road to promote Welsh Lamb in Belgium

Top Belgian restaurateur and winner of the prestigious ‘Chaudfontaine Ladychef of the Year’ award, Julie Baekelandt, has been on tour promoting her favourite meat – Welsh Lamb.

As part of a pre-Christmas sales drive supported by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), chef Julie was the star turn at catering suppliers ISPC’s winter ‘Culinary Countdown’ fairs at Ghent and Liège, where she prepared Welsh Lamb croquettes for customers to sample.

The fairs were part of a year-long programme of collaborative activities between HCC and Julie Baekelandt, following her capture of the Belgian Ladychef of the Year award in September.

“I simply love to use lamb meat, including less common cuts” says Julie. In her own restaurant, C-Jules in Zottegem, Julie has switched to using Welsh Lamb; “and I have not regretted this for one second. Welsh Lamb has a very pronounced taste, but it is very mild at the same time. This may sound contradictory, but it really is true. And the texture of the meat simply cannot be topped,” added Julie.

An additional advantage for Julie is the PGI certificate and the complete traceability of Welsh Lamb. Precisely because Julie knows she can rely on the quality and freshness of the product, she also dares to use less common cuts.

“Of course it would be easy to use racks,” she explains, but for her winning dish at the Ladychef competition, she created a new dish using the shoulder. “First I vacuum seal the meat with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, letting it then cook for about 12 hours at 65⁰C. Then I let the meat rest for a while with a weight on top of it, and when it is flattened, I cut it into pieces and bake these until crunchy. The dish is served with a cream of celeriac, marinated celeriac and vegetables in a truffle broth. Delicious.”

HCC’s Export Market Executive, Deanna Leven, said; “HCC is delighted to be working with Julie Baekelandt to promote PGI Welsh Lamb in Belgium. Her samples of Welsh Lamb croquettes were the most popular live attraction at the ISPC Culinary Countdown – which is an important pre-Christmas fair for food buyers and suppliers. Julie is fast becoming one of the country’s most well-known chefs; hopefully her passion for creating a wide range of different Welsh Lamb dishes will inspire more consumers to put the meat on their menus too!”