Berwickshire firms on the menu at ‘culinary Olympics’

John Lamont MSP with Robin and Alison Tuke and the team at Hardiesmill, Gordon.
John Lamont MSP with Robin and Alison Tuke and the team at Hardiesmill, Gordon.

TWO Berwickshire firms are starring at an event known as the culinary equivalent of the Olympic Games.

On the menu at this week’s Bocuse d’Or, one of the world’s most prestigious cooking competitions, will be an innovative new lamb product from the Award-winning Tombuie Smokehouse at Hardies Mill, Gordon and crab from Burgons of Eyemouth.

Tombuie Smokehouse, which also operates Hardiesmill Aberdeen Angus Beef, was set the challenge to produce a “melt-in-the-mouth” way to enjoy Scotch Lamb by Quality Meat Scotland.

Their resulting product will be unveiled for the very first time at the Bocuse d’Or which will see 24 of the world’s top chefs compete using ingredients which will this year include Scotch Lamb.

Some of the world’s most discerning food experts attending the biannual event will be among the first to sample the new product on Quality Meat Scotland’s stand.

The Smoked Lamb Carpaccio, along with Tombuie Smoked Leg of Scotch Lamb and Hardiesmill Carpaccio-cut Smoked Aberdeen Angus Beef, will be served by QMS to scores of VIPs and media watching and judging the competition.

And after the food received a favourable reaction on home turf, Robin Tuke, who has been at Hardiesmill with his wife Alison for 10 years and run Tambuie Smokehouse for four, said he was intrigued to see how it would go down with European foodies.

He commented: “The challenge we were given by QMS was to create a completely new product which was ready to eat, could be served at room temperature and was suitable for salads, canapés and starters.

“What we have produced is whisps of oak smoked smoked lamb, extremely thinly sliced, which give a melt in the mouth blend of flavours.

“So far taste trials have revealed the product is a resounding success but the real test will be next week when the world’s top food experts will get an opportunity to sample it!”

Louise Rennie of the Tombuie Smokehouse team pictured with the new 'Wisps of Scotch Lamb'. Louise (also known as the Sydenham Shepherdess) lives on her family farm at Sydenham Farm, near Kelso.

Louise Rennie of the Tombuie Smokehouse team pictured with the new 'Wisps of Scotch Lamb'. Louise (also known as the Sydenham Shepherdess) lives on her family farm at Sydenham Farm, near Kelso.

Laurent Vernet, Head of Marketing at QMS, was full of praise for Tombuie Smokehouse and predicted their food would go down a treat over the Channel.

He added: “This product is sure to create a stir at Bocuse d’Or and it is wonderful to see Scotch Lamb being served in such an innovative and delicious way.

“One of the challenges lamb has in Scotland is a historically low consumption rate compared with the rest of the UK and the tendency for lamb consumers to be quite senior in years.

“This sort of innovation helps to widen the appeal of Scotch Lamb to younger consumers and I’m sure it will be very well received when it is launched in Lyon.”

Now in the third generation of the Burgon family, the other Berwickshire company joining Tombuie Smokehouse in France, was founded a 100 years ago to process herring.

In the early 50’s, shellfish had replaced herring as their principal product, and Burgons were in the forefront of the development of live lobster exports to continental Europe.

By the mid-80s, crab processing had become the core of the business, and a new factory was developed to specialize in the processing of Scottish crab.

With constant improvement and development of both production and product range, it is not without some justification that Burgons of Eyemouth are known as Scotland’s Crabmeat Specialists.

So it was fitting that they were selected by Seafood Scotland to provide top quality crab meat to be used by this year’s Bocuse d’Or entrants who will battle it out to win a coveted gold statue of culinary legend Paul Bocuse.

And Grahame Sinclair, Sales Director at Burgons spoke to ‘The Berwickshire News’ from Lyon this week, where he was flying the flag not only for Burgons but for Scottish seafood as a whole.

He had his first experience of the Bocuse d’Or two years ago and he admitted he didn’t appreciate just how huge an event it was.

“There are crowds and crowds of people gather in a huge auditorium to watch the event, all waving flags and cheering their country’s team on.

“After experiencing the fabulous enthusiasm for myself it struck me just how prestigious event it was and I asked someone at Seafood Scotland if it would be possible to have Scottish crab as one of the proteins at the event.

“Scottish crab is worldclass shellfish so selecting which crabs to send over took a few weeks. Each team gets two female crabs and two male crabs to work with and they all have to be a particular size.

“We shipped them over live in a water tank to Bologne and from there they were transported to Lyon.

“Now I’m here myself it’s all about networking and promoting the produce to others in the industry. I think it’s important for us to have a presence at an event like this.”