The top chef who will represent the UK at Bocuse d'Or, the culinary equivalent to the Oscars, visited Scotland this week to learn more about Scotch Lamb.
Scotch Lamb is a main ingredient in the competition which takes place in Lyon in January next year and will also feature Scottish seafood.
Simon Hulstone is the UK candidate in the Bocuse d’Or, a contest set up by culinary legend Paul Bocuse in 1987 to celebrate the individual talent of young chefs.
This week Mr Hulstone, the UK finalist, described his visit north and the opportunity to meet Scots farmers, chefs and others with a passion for Scotch Lamb as “invaluable for my competition preparation.”
Mr Hulstone, accompanied by Jordan Bailey who will assist him at the competition, visited Stirlingshire farmer, Andrew Morton, who runs a 1450 head flock over around 1000 acres with his parents, Andrew and Jean, at Lochend Farm near Denny.
Mr Morton and family have farmed at Lochend since the early 60s and their visiting VIP chef was clearly very impressed with the care and attention the Morton family devote to producing top quality lambs.
Among those who also spent time with Simon during his visit north of the Border was Scotland's only two Michelin-star chef, Andrew Fairlie, based at The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder.
“Spending the afternoon with Andrew Fairlie was great. His straight-talking feedback was constructive and has certainly given me a lot to think about,” said Mr Hulstone who will compete against 23 of the world’s leading chefs in the frenzied Bocuse d’Or final in January.
Wishing Simon the best of luck in the competition, Mr Fairlie described Bocuse d'Or as “very challenging, demanding and a real test of the creativity of competing chefs”.
“If anyone in the UK can win Bocuse d’Or it is Simon – he is the best competition chef in the country at the moment,” said Mr Fairlie.
The Bocuse d’Or finalists will, he said, be working with a product which, along with Scotch Beef, ranks among the highest quality in the world.
“The irony is that consumers on the continent appreciate the quality of Scotch Lamb but in Scotland it is not appreciated enough.
“We are a nation of beef eaters and lamb comes a long way behind. On the continent they love our lamb and we should be eating a lot more of it.”
This week’s visit to Scotland also saw Mr Hulstone receive tips from Aberfoyle butcher Jonathan Honeyman who gave a Scotch Lamb butchery demonstration in Tom Lewis’ kitchen at Monachyle Mohr in the Trossachs.
Laurent Vernet, Quality Meat Scotland’s Head of Marketing, emphasized the importance of Bocuse d’Or as an opportunity to showcase Scotch Lamb to the world during Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.
“We were delighted to host Simon’s visit and our thanks go to all those who have given him so much inspiration this week,” said Mr Vernet.
“Chefs such as Marco Pierre White, Albert and Michel Roux and Heston Blumenthal have also pledged to support Simon and appreciate the importance of the competition which is the most sought-after prize for chefs around the globe and a fantastic international platform for Scotch Lamb.”