Lakes food business best in the North 

Jon Watson with Herdwicks, Yew Tree Farm

Jon Watson, owner of Heritage Meats based at Yew Tree Farm, Coniston, has just discovered that he has won two prestigious national awards in the Great British Food Awards 2021.

Cumbrian farmer and food producer Jon operates his butchery and online shop from Yew Tree Farm, a picturesque working Lakeland Hill farm, spread over seven hundred acres of herb rich pasture and rugged fell, set against a backdrop of the Lakeland’s Yewdale Valley. 

The farm specialises in Herdwick Hogget, Herdwick Mutton and Belted Galloway Beef, which is something former owner, renowned children’s author, and advocate of all things Herdwick, Beatrix Potter would greatly appreciate, especially having won many an award for Herdwicks herself. 

John Pallagi, multi-award-winning butcher, and co-founder of Farmison & Co. awarded the Coniston based farmer with the overall award for the Lamb Category, recognising the outstanding quality of Jon’s Lake District farmed reared Shoulder of Hogget. Commenting: ”This was a generous 3kg joint that came with an extremely good layer of fat. Packaging and labelling clearly identified the breed and provided cooking instructions. I choose to cook it long and slow for around 5 hours, keeping the cooking method simple and with only the addition of a stock and herb base. The end result was a vast amount of meat that was super tender and fell away from the bone with ease. With regards to taste, the hogget was full of flavour and produced noticeable herbal notes. A real pleasure to eat.” 

Alongside that Jon also discovered that the business had also been recognised as best in the North of England region too, piping businesses from Lancashire, Yorkshire, Northumbria, Derbyshire, and Cheshire to the top spot. This category was judged by Dani Redd, Great British Food Editor and Holly Shackleton Acting Group Editor, who commented: ”We were impressed by their commitment to sustainable livestock rearing, and the championing of this indigenous, slow-reared sheep, whose tender meat has become a national delicacy. The hogget was particularly full-flavoured!”

The Great British Food Awards now in their seventh year, launched in 2014, to celebrate the country’s finest home-grown ingredients, as well as the diligent folk who produce and cook with them covering everything from dairy, cheese, meats, artisan drinks right through to savoury preserves. 

Each year the judging panel is made up of some of the most acclaimed chefs, food critics and influencers in the country, which provides entrants with an opportunity to have their produce tasted by some of the UK’s most influential foodies who so far have tasted some 1500 products. 

This year’s judges include the likes of, food writer, stylist and broadcaster Rosie Birkett, MasterChef the Professionals finalist and Executive Chef at the LaLit Hotel Santosh Shah, award-winning chef and owner of the Adam Handling Restaurant Group, Adam Handling, cookbook author, food writer and passionate baker Martha Collison, two-star Michelin chef and owner of Le Gavroche Michel Roux Jr, restaurant Mere chef patron and tv presenter Monica Galetti, to name a few, will be tasting and cogitating in the coming weeks to decide the best of the best. 

Jon Watson, owner of Heritage Meats, commented: ‘’It’s a real achievement for the team that our Herdwick Hogget Shoulder has taken the top spot in the Lamb category in this year’s Great British Food Awards, but we are totally over the moon to take the plaudits as best producer in the North of England. It just goes to show that traditional farming methods, coupled with careful nurturing deliver real results that people can genuinely appreciate and recognise as being the best quality available.’’

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