Jamie Oliver slated for not using Cornish beef at Fifteen Cornwall
JAMIE Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall restaurant has been criticised by local cattle farmers for buying its steaks from a Gloucestershire supplier – more than 200 miles away.
The famous eatery, at Watergate Bay, prides itself on supporting Cornish businesses and claims to use local ingredients wherever possible.
But it emerged last week that a farmer and butcher in Toddington had landed a deal to supply the restaurant with steaks from his Longhorn herd.
Bosses at Fifteen say the breed produces the tastiest meat, which they want to "sit at the heart of their menu", and they tried unsuccessfully to find a Cornish supplier.
A Longhorn ribeye steak on the dinner menu costs £28 while sirloin is listed at £27.
However, local farmers and beef suppliers have viewed the move as a snub against the native South Devon breed, which they say provides similarly juicy steaks.
One farmer, Peter Cowling, of Trebelsue Farm, told the Cornish Guardian he had a 110-strong herd that grazed on fields directly above Fifteen. He supplies beef for Tesco's 'Finest' range and won a 'supplier of the year' award in 2012. He said: "When there's a quality product right on the cliffs above your restaurant, why go miles away to source it? I'd happily give them a quote and if they want to check the quality I can walk the cattle to the restaurant door.
"Fifteen have never approached me about beef and I've often wondered why. Clearly the powers-that-be have decided Longhorn beef is the best but I would disagree. South Devon is the local breed down here and you'd like to think they'd source their beef more locally."
Award-winning cattle farmer Roger Rundle, of Kestle Mill Farm, near Newquay, agreed. He said: "I'm not having a go at Longhorn beef but what's the point of bringing it all those miles down from Gloucester when we produce beef that's second to none right here? South Devon is on a par with, if not better, than anything else out there.
"Customers who come to Cornwall expect a Cornish product. Imagine not being served Cornish clotted cream in Cornwall. It's the same principle."
Stuart Ward, of Grampound Road, supplies South Devon beef to two butchers as well as Trevaskis Farm and restaurant. He said Fifteen had not been in touch in around five years.
"I know a butcher who would be happy to supply them," he said. "Our product is up there with the best. You can't go wrong with the South Devon. They are good cattle for the farmers, the butchers and the consumers."
Fifteen is owned by charity Cornwall Foundation of Promise and provides a chef training programme for disadvantaged young people.
The idea was originally the brainchild of Jamie Oliver, revealed this week as the world's richest chef with a fortune of £150 million in The Sunday Times Rich List.
Fifteen was opened to much fanfare in 2006. Its website states: "At the heart of our food ethos is mindfully sourced and locally produced ingredients from Cornwall and the South West."
Jamie Oliver's Fifteen: 'We'd buy local meat if we could'
BOSSES at Fifteen have defended their decision to source Longhorn steaks from Gloucestershire, rather than use South Devon beef native to Cornwall.
Head chef, Andy Appleton, said: "Our new menu has a major emphasis on beef – in fact we are now selling around 300 steaks a week – so we looked hard for a meat with a very specific taste and quality to sit at the heart of our menu.
"After a lot of careful research we chose the Longhorn, identified again and again by critics as one of the very best varieties for steak. This rare breed has a distinctive flavour and silky texture due to the unique marbling of its meat.
"Fifteen Cornwall's policy is to source as much food as possible within Cornwall and we did look for a Cornish supplier of Longhorn beef. While there are a few notable Longhorn herds in Cornwall, at present no one here is able to provide us with the quantity of Longhorn steaks we need. We continue to source most of our other meat, including beef short rib, from our established and excellent Cornish suppliers, for example Angus Trotters at Radnor."
Chief executive Matthew Thomson added: "We are as committed as ever to working with producers and suppliers in Cornwall to develop local supply of the specialist produce we serve at Fifteen Cornwall. We want to work with farmers and butchers in Cornwall to get more Cornish beef onto our daily menu.
"Fifteen Cornwall is proud of the impact our approach to sourcing and partnership working has had on Cornish businesses. Companies such as the Cornish Duck Company, Deli Farm Charcuterie, Buttervilla (supplier of most of our tomatoes and soft fruits) and Origin Coffee have all grown and flourished with the help of our business."