Althams target chefs

Around 40 chefs from pubs and restaurants across North West England paid a visit to Althams Catering Butchers recently, to find out more about Althams Quality Assured (AQA) beef and lamb.

Around 40 chefs from pubs and restaurants across North West England paid a visit to Althams Catering Butchers recently, to find out more about Althams Quality Assured (AQA) beef and lamb.

Following a warm welcome from chief executive Val Altham, guests were taken on a tour of the factory by her sons James and Richard, board directors of the Company.

The chefs were shown around the whole factory, with special attention paid to an area dedicated to dry-ageing AQA beef and lamb.

Malcolm Thornton, a highly skilled butcher who has been with Althams for 18 years, outlined what gives the product its distinctive flavour, as he seam-butchered an entire beef carcase to illustrate the full range of cuts available.

The chefs were then taken to meet farmer Brendon Atkinson and his son Brian at Scratchmere Scar farm in Plumpton, Penrith, where some of the AQA beef starts its life. Brian explained how the Stabilizer breed of cattle is what makes the end product so good.

He said: "The Stabilizer is a mixture of Red Angus, Geld, Simmental and Hereford. It has good marbling which gives it a better flavour. It also has a laid-back temperament so the animal is less inclined to feel stressed, producing a better quality meat post-slaughter. The animals are also free to roam and enjoy a lush, natural diet, which adds to the quality of the end product."

Speaking to the chefs, Richard Altham explained: "We spent 12 months developing the AQA concept and worked hard to identify farmers that we knew we could depend on to meet our exacting requirements. With AQA, we've developed a brand that is not only excellent quality, but it is consistently so - and it's that that will keep your customers coming back time and time again."

James Altham added: "We pay the farmers more to ensure that the product is finished in the right way - and that's important because they need to be able to make a living just as much as the next man.

"Without their skill and hard work we would be nowhere! And because AQA is a premium product, it should command a premium price in a pub or restaurant. Once customers know the story behind their beef or lamb, they will be inclined to pay extra because they know they are eating fully traceable meat."

To aid this marketing, Althams has introduced a special batch coding system for AQA customers, which enables chefs to go one step further and tell their own customers not only the origin of the meat in terms of locality, but the exact farm it came from.

Chefs simply have to input the batch code from their order into a special section on the AQA website to find out which farm the animal came from and when it was killed.

AQA beef and lamb conforms to the quality specifications of the EBLEX Quality Standard scheme.

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