Michelin starred Welsh chef praises new ‘Welsh Luing Beef’

17 February 2015

The first Welsh producer of Luing beef, a traditional highland breed from Scotland, has been praised by a Michelin starred Welsh chef as the new produce is launched.


As the family at Hafod y Maidd, Glasfryn near Betws-y-Coed, unveil their ‘Welsh Luing Beef’ at an event on the farm, Bryan Webb, chef and owner of the Tyddyn Llan restaurant at Llandrillo near Corwen said:


“After cooking Welsh Luing Beef using various cuts, I have been most impressed with the beautiful marbling of the meat. The level of fat in the beef is excellent giving it a very special flavour.


“The rib of beef I roasted had an amazig taste and it was so tender – I very much hope that I will be able to use Luing beef at Tyddyn Llan,” said Bryan Webb.


The cycle from gate to plate is now complete as Iwan and Eleanor Davies, Hafod y Maidd, situated between Corwen and the picturesque Betws-y-Coed, launch the meat produce more than a year after investing in a new herd of cattle from the Scottish island of Luing. The aim of the investment was to reconsider the farm’s business plan, following changes to the Common Agricultural Policy.


After months of hard work and with support from Cywain, the family is launching their new produce ‘Welsh Luing Beef’ to chefs and butchers in north Wales at a Farming Connect event.


“It’s a very exciting time for us,” explains Eleanor Davies, the qualified specialist cancer nurse who has taken a break from her role as a university lecturer to bring up her three children and establish the meat company.


“So much has happened over the last few months and it’s hard to believe that we are sharing our vision with some of Wales’ leading food experts! On top of everything I had the privilege of visiting Bryan Webb in Llandrillo to see him cooking and tasting the meat – incredible!


“As farmers, we’re used to raising high quality animals but taking this new venture and developing the produce from farm to fork has been a real eye opener.


“We are really grateful to Cywain, the project spearheaded by Menter a Busnes. They have led us step by step through the process along this new path. Their support has been invaluable and we would never have taken the chance nor succeeded in reaching this important milestone without them,” explains Eleanor.


Menter a Busnes is behind the Cywain project, which aims to add value to raw products in the agricultural sector. The project is financed through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.


Farming a variety of different terrain at Hafod y Maidd, Iwan explains that they needed a hardy breed of cattle that could withstand cold and adverse weather conditions in the uplands.


“Since a large part of the farm is subject to statutory conservation – we have been registered as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – you can imagine the terrain that the cattle graze.


“They graze the heather on the mountains and untreated grass. Although we have not been categorised as organic, that is more or less the type of farming that we do here.


“You could say that we have gone back to farming as our forefathers used to farm, no fertiliser, no chemicals and no concentrates for the stock.


“The cattle are reared on the mountain eating grass and the natural pasture around them. That is probably what gives the meat its special taste. In addition, the marbling seen throughout the meat and the fact that there is just enough fat to give real taste to the meat, makes it delicious” explains Iwan.


The Luing was developed by the famous Cadzow brothers on the island of Luing in Argyll off the west coast of Scotland back in 1947. The brothers admired the special features of two of the local breeds of beef cattle – the beef Shorthorn with its fleshing qualities and its mothering instinct and the Highlander, a rugged and hardy breed. The brothers crossed the best Shorthorns with the best Highland heifers that could be bought after the Second World War and started the new Luing breed. Only a handful of farmers in Wales have ventured into the breed.


For Iwan and Eleanor and their children Mia, 10, Steffan, 8 and Leila Nel who is 6, life on the farm is busy. Hafod y Maidd is one of Farming Connect’s demonstration farms, a Welsh Government Scheme run by Menter a Busnes offering advice, guidance, training and events for farming and forestry businesses. After launching the meat on the farm, the family have opened the gates for dozens of farmers to come and see the business and the agricultural elements of the farm.


Looking to the future, the family is looking forward to hearing the opinions of butchers and chefs about the Welsh Luing. The renowned Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in the Conwy Valley is already selling the meat and in a few weeks’ time Cywain has secured space for Welsh Luing Beef in a major food festival in Manchester, the Northern Restaurant & Bar, with some of Cywain’s other food and drink producers.


“Welsh Luing Beef has been a very enjoyable project to work on,” said Alwen Eidda, Cywain’s Development Manager.


“We have worked with Iwan and Eleanor carrying out market research in the Winter Fair at Llanelwedd and working on a specific brand for the company and supporting the couple to develop some marketing materials. The new Welsh Luing Beef website is now live; it will be a shop window for the family as they promote and sell their quality meat produce.


“The Hafod y Maidd family will target chefs and butchers with the meat, and it is imperative that they have the right tools to promote their produce professionally. It’s an extremely competitive market for a small company from north Wales. Cywain is looking forward to continuing to work with Iwan and Eleanor and other producers from Wales in the Manchester food festival in March.”


For further information on ‘Welsh Luing Beef’ visit www.welshluingbeef.co.uk. For more about the work of Cywain visit www.cywain.com

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