Rhug Estate is a popular name when it comes to quality organic meat suppliers in high end restaurants. Rhug Estate is found in Corwen in Denbighshire and is the main estate and home of Lord Newborough.
We had the wonderful treat of sampling a selection of an organic meat box and saw for ourselves why Rhug Estate is so widely used.
The Organic Aberdeen Angus Sirloin Steak was melt in your mouth good, with strong flavour and perfect tenderness. It was meat heaven.
We also sampled the Organic Whole Chicken, perfectly plump and the most wonderful flavoursome meat.
We caught up with Lord Newborough to ask more about his outstanding farm….
Tell us about Rhug Estate…
Rhug Estate is an award-winning, organic field-to-fork farm. We supply sought-after organic cuts of Aberdeen Angus beef, bison, chicken, salt marsh lamb and game to top Michelin-starred restaurants in the Far East, Middle East and London including The Dorchester, The Connaught and Shangri-La, and offer only the finest sustainable produce.
As well as the farm, Rhug Estate comprises the Bison Grill bistro, serving gourmet food for breakfast, brunch and lunch; a Farm Shop stocked with strictly local produce and delectable hampers; On The Hoof, a grab-and-go hatch; and mail order – perfect for at-home gourmet.
You were at the forefront of organic farming, why did you decide to take this path?
I had a huge passion for sustainable organic farming, and always considered this when looking after my own diet so wanted to be able to provide organic and sustainable options for others. When my father passed away, I took a huge leap to turn what was then a low input, low output farm into a sustainable, organic farm, where all of the live stock enjoys a 100% organic diet and live free-range on clover-rich pastures. The farm has been visited by the Michelin inspector, in recognition of the brand name appearing on many Michelin-starred menus across the world – I’m really pleased with how far we’ve come along.
Do you supply restaurants internationally?
Yes, we supply some fabulous restaurants across the Middle, Far-East and Europe including – Burj al Arab in Dubai and Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and Zori in Croatia. We’re building on our international presence and I spend much of my time abroad meeting with restaurant owners and chefs – I’ve just come back from a two-week stint visiting Dubai, Thailand and Singapore.
How do you ensure your high quality?
Self-sufficiency of Rhug farm and its “circle of life philosophy” are paramount. Organic arable crops, vetches, beets and herbs (specifically cultivated to replace any need for artificial supplements and medicines) are grown on the farm to ensure the livestock have a healthy and balanced diet. Hedgerows are allowed to flourish. The sheer scale of managing crop and livestock rotation to prevent the build-up of disease and toxins in the soil and animals is mind boggling. Natural remedies have to be used instead of conventional medicines. Provenance and traceability are key, no pesticides or chemicals can be present in anything on the farm. We use the local family run abattoir and the meat is returned to the estates purpose built maturation and cutting plant.
Slow growing breeds are chosen to ensure the end product has the best possible flavour and this is of course the ultimate goal, after all what is the point of being organic but tasteless? This is where Rhug excels, not only are we organic but we are producing some of the best meat and poultry on the market.
What advice would you give to restaurants considering offering organic meat?
When it comes to organic, it is all about quality, flavour and better health. Organic meat comes from animals that have been grown on our farm in a natural and completely stress-free way and this is evident in the quality of meat. Restaurants we work with pride themselves on the organic meat they offer and often list us on their menus to show to their customers that they are using 100% organic and top-quality produce…which customers seem to love.
Organic food has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular food, and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides. More and more consumers are becoming aware of this so by using organic meat, you are adding another element of quality to your offering.
What do you consider your most significant accomplishment?
It has to be Rhug Estate! Since 1998, I have grown the Estate from just nine employees to 110 and we now produce organic beef, bison, lamb, salt marsh lamb, chickens, turkeys, geese, bison and game. It is the largest organic farm in Wales selling award-winning meat to some of the most prestigious restaurants…and we just keep growing.
What is your favourite choice of meat from your shop?
Bison! It’s a nutrient dense, low fat, low cholesterol meat with as many omega 3 servings as salmon and this really comes out in the flavour.
What upcoming plans do you have for 2016?
Projects in hand for 2016 are to increase the chicken output from 600 to 3,000 per week. We intend to complete several alternative energy projects and we are also introducing Stabiliser bulls to the Aberdeen Angus herd to improve the marbling within the beef.
Lord Newborough cannot resist a challenge and the key is to start small, learn along the way and build on great quality produce by not compromising on quality.