My Kitchen Rules judge Gareth Stewart, the executive chef of Nourish Group, who oversees 11 restaurant kitchens, was in Raglan on Monday to check out his new, regular supply of Grandad’s Beef.
Gareth brought with him four other top chefs from Auckland, who will be serving up Grandad’s Beef at the Jervois Steak House, Euro, FISH and Baduzzi restaurants from this week.
It was the flavour of the meat that got them into gumboots and trudging around Brookdell Farm in Ohautira Rd for a lesson in biological farming practices by the Bayliss family.
“The one thing for me is flavour,” says Gareth. “If it tastes good I want it.”
Tracey Bayliss, whose parents Cliff and Maureen own Brookdell Farm, had rocked up to the Jervois Steak House, which is part of the Nourish Group, with her little black bag of steaks and offered them a try.
They were instantly sold on the taste, however there was a catch.
“Usually restaurants always place orders for meat by the kilo,” says Tracey. “I want six kilos of eye fillet and six kilos of sirloin steak. We can’t do that, it doesn’t work in with our philosophy.”
And that philosophy is sustainable farming, using the whole beast.
So she invited them down to come and look at the big steers that are raised using traditional farming practices – there’s no mass production here. Chemicals aren’t used on the land and the stock are all raised on real milk and then grass-fed, supplemented by hay and silage.
“That’s 600 kilograms of meat in the paddock. So I can’t give you two kilos of rump or eye fillet, I can’t slice two kilos off the back of that guy,” explains Tracey.
“It’s not about mass producing. We are not processing in a year what competitors do in a day. We need to start looking at everything as a whole.”
Another reason why Tracey got the chefs on the farm was to show them why her family’s meat tastes so good.
That’s because they focus on the soil and keep practices natural. The by-product is beef superior in taste.
“I wanted them to see it, feel it and touch it, rather than rocking up with a big bag of soil and worms,” says Tracey.
“Even if they came here purely and simply for the taste it shows there is demand for this type of farming.”
Gareth says it’s really good to see the connection between pasture and plate.
“To see where the products have come from and tell the story to your guests.”
For the five chefs who came to Raglan that day, those stories include a feast of homemade scones and jam, sausage and egg pie, sausages and mince patties – good old farming hospitality!
It also includes getting shocked by an electric fence, checking out the pig hunter’s man cave filled with tusk trophies, drinking water from a farm stream and returning home with bags of grapefruit.
“Beautiful, the fact you can drink from a stream,” says Gareth, after standing in the water for a taste.
“I will let you know if I am sick later.”
Pictured above: Top Chefs in the market for Grandads Beef : Glen File (Baduzzi), Gareth Stewart, Fraser Shenton (Fish) Adam Rickett (Euro) and Jeff Shute (Jervois Steak House) checking out the beef and farming practices of the Bayliss family.