Well where has the year gone? 2017 is knocking on our door and I didn?t feel 2016 pass!!
It?s been another crazy year for us at HW with the opening of our new, dedicated store, Wagyu House. We were blessed with some amazing support for the opening, which was incredible. Since we opened our doors in August it?s been truly incredible. Of course I?m still based at the farm but I have my Saturday job at Wagyu House and I pop in most days to check on what?s going on and I enjoy meeting and talking Wagyu to all our customers.
With another crazy year nearly behind us, Mohsin and I are looking forward to a well-earned break in January. Mohsin is working on some exciting projects for the New Year so we?ll need some R&R before the excitement begins. Of course, we?ll keep you posted on social media.
We had another great few days at The Royal Highland Show with our Wagyu stand in June. After selling out in two days last year we increased our stock this year?and sold out in three days! It seems our love for Wagyu is spreading. So we will plan better for the Show next year. My nephew Maison came to help for the four days at the Highland and has stayed to work alongside us at HW, which of course has pleased me! It?s great to have him with us and since Wagyu House opened he has grown in confidence and is now looking after all of our private customers.
It?s been an amazing year with many new restaurants and some incredible chefs placing our beef on their menus. We?ve had so much support from many of our customers since the start of our journey that we cannot thank them enough. You know who you are and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for always being there for us. Without you, we wouldn?t be here.
A big thank you also goes to our friend and top-chef customer Adam Handling who used our Wagyu beef on Masterchef this year, which gave us a massive boost. We?re hoping to add a clip to the website soon.
In more good news, I have found a ?mini me? at last. Michelle came on board a few months ago, which has been a massive help for us all. She has been in the beef industry for many years, her enthusiasm is infectious and I believe our customers are going to enjoy her positive and fun-loving character as much as we do. Along with my husband and I, Craig runs around the country shouting about HW. Craig is a long-term friend and his passion for Wagyu is incredible. We tease him most days but he would think something was wrong if we didn?t. I must also mention everyone in the office as well as Nigel who tries to keep everyone in check.
On the cattle side things life is always busy. Every day brings us a challenge and we are all constantly learning that ?every day?s a school day?. I?m told where there?s livestock there?s ?dead stock? and this is something I haven?t been able to grasp well?maybe it?s because I am still so new to the world of cattle? That being said we have had many beautiful new additions to the HW herds. Our Wagyu herd is growing daily and the Wagyu breed itself is growing in popularity worldwide. We have many people calling because they want to learn more about the breed in general, which is a positive sign. For us they are wonderful, but for many they don?t really see them visually as ?beef cattle?. However, once they have seen our steers and of course the end product, this gives them encouragement.
We cross our Wagyu with our other breeds of cattle to see what the Wagyu are doing to our traditional carcasses and each one so far has blown us away. I?m sure many have heard our weird and wonderful names for the different Wagyu crosses. Wangus, Waghorn, Waglander are the three so far and we have another new Wagyu cross coming soon but I?m still working on the name for that!
Our HW Angus herd has gone from strength to strength with William and Karen at the helm. In the past year we have exported live cattle and embryos to 12 different countries from both our Red and Black Angus. With many bulls being sold within the UK, we would like to thank our new and returning customers for all the support you have given us. Next year is looking very exciting, with the World Angus Forum coming to visit. We also have a nice group of bulls for the famous Stirling Bull Sales in February.
HW Shorthorns have stepped up a mark and, since George?s main focus is now on the Shorthorns, they?re coming into their own. Our homebred bull and national champion Freud is now in stud, with many orders for his semen coming in before he even arrived! Hazard was sold to Genus and has also been popular across the globe. So, things are looking up on the Shorthorn front and I look forward to sharing more new about them soon.
We also have a new member on the Wagyu team. Lorna has returned from many years in NZ to join the Wagyu team and we?re very happy to have her on board. She joins Colin, Maureen, Grant and Radik who all look after the Wagyu side of things, making five Wagyu musketeers! And I better not forget a very important member of the Wagyu team - Diaz is HW security the most incredible Rottie I?ve ever met. Along with HW Yoda (our French Bulldog) they are Wagyu quality control 😉 HW Yoda is in full force and brings us such joy at home and on the farm. He is totally in love with the cattle, but sometimes gets a little freaked out when he appears from a bale of hay and finds large Wagyu tongues waiting to kiss him! I?m not sure what he thinks these large beasts are and I?m sure they wonder who or what he is, but they all seem to find each other totally spellbinding.
Finally, I know I?ve said this before, but I cannot say it enough: my husband and I are here not only because of our determination, but also because of the hard work of the whole team. Without everyone?s hard work and passion we wouldn?t be here today. As in life, there are good and bad days, but together we can do many great things. So, to our HW family we would like to thank you for everything you have done. We look forward to walking into the future with you, whatever it may hold.
Scotland is set to be home to the first UK store dedicated to selling Wagyu ? the world?s most expensive beef - when it is officially opened today (Monday 15 August 2016) by a host of?world-class?chefs.
Legendary French chef, Albert Roux OBE, will be joined by Tom Kitchin, Pierre Koffmann, Fred Berkmiller and Shaun Whatling to launch Wagyu House in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire.
The new high street store is the brainchild of the husband and wife team, Mohsin Altajir and Martine Chapman, behind Highland Wagyu.
And it will cater specially for the local retail market and the hundreds of private UK customers on their books with Wagyu products ranging from ?10 to ?1,000 per kilo.
The boutique shop on Henderson Street offers a wide range of Wagyu products from nose to tail, including handmade charcuterie, gourmet burgers and pies as well as prime cuts of sirloin, fillet and rib and all grades of Wagyu beef - from high grade Japanese Kobe to lower grade Australian beef.
The ?chefs of honour? are the most respected in the culinary world and keen supporters of Highland Wagyu, which looks to them for direction.
Albert Roux quickly became a mentor to the team, and the product, which is currently supplied to his Chez Roux restaurant at Cromlix House in Dunblane, will soon be available in his other restaurants across Scotland.
Scots chef Tom Kitchin, has taken the beef at his Leith-based restaurant, The Kitchin, since the beginning and is known colloquially as their ?Minister of Beef?.
French-born Pierre Koffmann is chef proprietor of Koffmann's at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge where Shaun Whatley is executive chef.
Fred Berkmiller, recently awarded?Food Pioneer of the Year (Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016),?is?owner of L'escargot bleu and L'escargot blanc restaurants in Edinburgh and was one of Highland Wagyu's first - and biggest - customers.
Mohsin Altajir, owner of Wagyu House, said: ?When we set up Highland Wagyu five years ago we knew chefs would be interested, but we didn?t anticipate such an overwhelming demand from the private market. We want to bring Wagyu to the masses and let people know about its different grades with different tastes. There is Wagyu to suit every taste bud and every pocket.?
Martine Chapman, who runs Dunblane-based Highland Wagyu, the UK?s largest producer of the Japanese beef cattle, said: ?We wanted to keep everything local. Bridge of Allan is literally on our doorstep so we can oversee every aspect to ensure quality every step of the way, and the main suppliers of beef are bred and processed within a five-mile radius.?
At Wagyu House, daily dishes made with Wagyu will be available for takeaway while customers can also sit down to taste samples. Patrons can even select the number of days to dry age their beef in the store?s two drying agers, which use Himalayan rock salt for the process.
Since trading started at the beginning of June, the shop has sold more than a tonne of Wagyu beef, including a sell-out stand at the Royal Highland Show.
An online shop is also in development. In the meantime, orders for Wagyu House products can be placed on wagyuhouse.co.uk
Issued on behalf of Highland Wagyu by JK Consultancy. For further information please contact: Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editor
Photos:?(l-r) Fred Berkmiller of L'Escargot bleu and L'Escargot Blanc in Edinburgh, Pierre Koffmann of Koffmann's at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, Tom Kitchin of The Kitchin in Leith, Albert Roux and Shaun Whatling, executive chef at Koffmann's at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge.
Wagyu House is the UK?s first high street store dedicated to selling Wagyu products. A sister company of Highland Wagyu, we showcase Wagyu gems from nose to tail. Whether you like to cook at home or sit in and eat, our product range caters to every taste, from beef to charcuterie or gourmet pies. We source Wagyu from across the UK and around the world.
Highland Wagyu is a pedigree beef company, breeding premium Japanese Wagyu, Aberdeen Angus, Beef Shorthorn, Dexter and Highland cattle with a mission to produce the best beef in the world from our 25,000-acre estate farm in Perthshire, Scotland. Established by husband and wife Mohsin Altajir and Martine Chapman in 2011, our ethos of quality, respect and precision underpins everything we do. Highland Wagyu sells directly to chefs. It is the largest producer of Wagyu cattle in the UK and on course to be the biggest in Europe.
Autumn has arrived, bringing with it an Indian summer (thank goodness) so at last our cattle can laze in sunny fields. Despite the lack of sun, the summer months have passed in a hazy blur of visits from Australian Wagyu breeders, North East & Central Charolais Club, North Highland Cattle Club and chefs from existing and newly launched restaurants up and down the country.
One particular visit I?ll never forget was the Gordon Ramsay Group and Classic Fine Foods in August, pictured below with me ?conducting? them!
They were a fantastic group who, like us, had a great day out tasting an assortment of Wagyu goodies and seeing the cattle. The wonderful Andre Lima de Luca, who knows everything worth knowing about BBQ, was part of the group and introduced himself as ?the man who plays with fire? ? the best job description I?ve ever heard 🙂
In other exciting news, I?m pleased to announce that I have a new job. I?m now a Saturday girl at the new deli we?re supporting, No16Deli in Bridge of Allan 🙂 No rest for the wicked!
We opened to a roaring trade at the beginning of September and are so grateful to our supporters who dropped in to see all the lovely fresh goodies on offer from local producers, including Highland Wagyu beef. So our private customers are able to buy a little something special from there now. It?s been great to meet our private customers face to face. It?s a fab foodie hangout and I?m looking forward to meeting more and more of you soon.
Rest assured though that we?re still delivering across the UK and have started with our new HW Beef Box of goodies.
Here is (a rather jet lagged) Nick Nairn and Tony Singh who popped in on opening day.
Beef enquiries have been coming in thick and fast from across Europe - from Sweden to Italy and Portugal to Lithuania. It?s just fantastic to speak to people from all over the world who share our love for Wagyu beef.
Speaking of Wagyu love, I?m already taking orders for Christmas and there?s only so much of our Wagyu available so please, please let us know as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. It?s difficult to think about Christmas now I know but last year I was so snowed under that I didn?t even send a Christmas card out! How bad is that! So this year I?m on the ball? needing Christmas orders in early!!
And continuing the theme, we?ve been kept busy over the summer with many new customers who are Wagyu fans. We love working with our customers ? new and ?old? - and wish we could mention each and everyone; I just don?t want to leave anyone out and cause offence!!
The majority of our beef goes to chefs and restaurants in and around London so we?re pleased to see that more and more chefs and restaurants in Scotland are coming to us now, including the Chop House, which opened this month in Leith. And it was great to host owners Mark Fraser and Michael Spink and their front of house team at HW to see our operation and really understand what we do here.
We?ve also been also been working with Bonny Porter of Balls & Company in London for a long time so we were delighted to get a mention in her interview with Casual Dining Magazine.
And we?ve just started working with Paul Eagles who is over the moon with our Wagyu products now available at his luxury food store, Eagles Fine Food. You?ll also see he has Wagyu (meat) balls, lol.
During our much-needed week in Spain, we had the chance to meet up with Scottish and British Chef of the Year Adam Handling and his delightful fianc?e. Adam is a long-term supporter, having been with us from the beginning. We have a good laugh with Adam. I call him my adopted son and he calls me ?Mom? 🙂
The summer has been flat out on the cattle side too. Autumn calving started early August for HW Angus with a delivery of a heifer calf by Netherton Black Magic out of a Rawburn Transformer heifer (photo below).
Our Wagyu embryo calves arrive year-round so we?re always welcoming new little ones, who are incredibly cute. Just look at this one:
In July, we flushed some of our Wagyu females as part of our embryos for export programme, for which we?ve had huge interest from South Africa, so watch this space.
And then there was the hectic show season. HW Shorthorns had a fantastic day at The Great Yorkshire Show with the mighty Quoiggs Freud winning four of the most prestigious (and oldest) trophies in the country.
Freud was named Male and Overall Champion Shorthorn at the UK Beef Shorthorn Championships 2015. Here?s George looking ecstatic with the Brothers Colling Memorial Trophy.
At Perth Show, our 15-month-old Shorthorn HW Hazard made Reserve Male Champ. Meanwhile, we?d like to congratulate James Porter and the Uppermill team who took home the Mohmar Trophy for the second consecutive year for the ?Most Successful Herd? across four qualifying shows.
HW Angus also made a splash on the show circuit. At the Aberdeen Angus National Show in Kelso, HW Frances was Heifer Calf Champion and Reserve Supreme Calf (below) before making Supreme Champion at the National Aberdeen Angus Junior Championships in Birmingham, pictured below.
We also welcomed two new Shorthorn girls to the HW family. Uppermill Rothes Jet, an 18-month-old maiden heifer is by Dunsyre Demetri and out of the Podehole Yeaoman daughter, Uppermill Jasmine. We also bought Uppermill Cillian Jenny, another maiden heifer, who is the first Eionmor Chieftain daughter to be sold in the UK.
Finally, we welcomed a smaller, furrier, indoor addition to the HW family with the arrival of our gorgeous French Bulldog, Yoda. He?s such a blessing and though he?s a lot of hard work he also brings a lot of joy and forces me to stop working at home by sitting on my laptop. He even sleeps by the oven when Mohsin is cooking and barks when the meat is ready. What a great sous chef ? and a perfect match!
I?ll leave you with this picture of Yoda tucking into his first Wagyu bone to remind you that dreams do come true. They might be much harder work than you imagined, but they?re worth it.
In the midst of this ?mini heatwave? - or as we like to call it here in Scotland: Summer ? it?s time to look back on the last three, crazy busy months. So much has happened.
April brought a mix of the odd beautiful day followed by a winter revival a few days later. Unsettling yes, but the weeks flew by and I had a million emails to answer, phone calls about carcasses and butchering, deliveries, orders, DNA registrations, paperwork about exporting genetics and also beef, vets, embryos & semen, stuff to do with British Wagyu Association, talking to chefs and arranging visits. You know, the usual!
May was National Burger month and, boy, did we feel it. The Wagyu burger orders went mad. We were also at the Beef Expo in York representing British Wagyu Association where we met BBC Countryfile?s Adam Henson again. He?s such a nice guy (always happy to do a selfie!) and very interested in featuring our Wagyu for the next series. Exciting times.
We marked another milestone with the birth of our first Wagyu x Dexter, which we fondly call ?Wagster?. What a cutie.
Before we knew it June was upon us and then went in a flash. We had a great few days at the Royal Highland Show (RHS). It was a first for us selling our beef to the public. I even got up on stage to assist Edinburgh Chef Fred Berkmiller, owner of L'escargot.
Thank you to everyone who came to visit us at the stand. We had an overwhelming response: we sold out of beef in 2.5 days, have had great feedback and shares from customers, which makes all our hard work worth it - and we even got a mention in The Herald.
Since then, I?ve been inundated with 15 email enquiries a day from new private customers interested in our beef. We already look after a lot of private customers so seeds are being sown for a Highland Wagyu Beef Club ? watch this space 🙂
The Highland Show wasn?t just about the beef ? we also won some silver. Netherton Evita who we share with Netherton Angus was Best Cow, Female Champion and Reserve Overall Breed Champion, she was also part of the Champion interbreed team of four.
There was no rest for me after the RHS, as the next day we had the honour of showing 80 people from the American Livestock Judging Team around our operation and HW Angus at Netherton. It was a fantastic day and testament to the Wagyu cattle that they were so interesting to the dairy judges!
Earlier in the month we hosted Chef Director of Restaurant Associates, Jeremy Ford, and four colleagues to HW HQ to check out our Wagyu, who ? to our delight - used our beef at their food and drink extravaganza, the RA Chef Expo, in mid June.? It looks amazing 🙂
We love being busy and it?s always great to show passionate people what we're up to here. We?ve hosted a fun group from Oshibori restaurant in Dundee, a couple of great young enthusiastic students at UCD Dublin, Angus breeders from America, private chef and owner of Highland Curing Co, Mark Heirs, who started as a customer and is now a friend who we are working with on a new project, as well as 2014 Master Chef winner Jamie Scott and his wife (pictured below).
Wagyu is getting a lot of interest with lots of new chefs coming on board. Gastropubs are trying our beef on menus across the UK and high-end London butchers are promoting it too.
I also want to take a moment to thank the chefs and restaurants who have supported us from day one ?Tom Kitchin, JW Steakhouse at The Grosvenor House, Adam Handling at Caxton and Fred Berkmiller of L'escargot.?We truly appreciate your support.
There are so many other customers that give us amazing support ? without you we couldn't have come this far.?Our beef is being served from one end of the country to the other. From Brighton to Inverness and from private homes to 3* Michelin restaurants. We are truly blessed to have an amazing team, fantastic cattle and most of all you - our customers. We couldn't do it without your faith in us and what we represent. Thank you ALL!!
Our customers love that our beef is bred in the UK. When they buy from us, they do it safe in the knowledge that our Wagyu is direct from source - ?it is what it says on the tin? ? and we?re incredibly proud of our transparency.
With all this extra interest, it?s great to have Craig on board helping with our sales and marketing of our F1 crosses, otherwise known as ?Wangus?. He?s been on the ground, doing the legwork for us in London.
Highland Wagyu also has a new General Manager, Nigel Murray, who started earlier this year to help take the load off me so I can focus on the beef. He?s already turned things around.
Last weekend saw the arrival of eight embryo calves with another 20 due in the next few days. So much of the interest is in our genetics with demand for embryos and semen from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Argentina, Germany, France and of course the UK with a shipment of Wagyu semen heading to Ireland to store where there are always lots of enquiries. We?re working hard to keep up with demand for our beef with continuous flushing.
It seems we?ve also caught the eye of an Australian writer with this mention in The Age (above).?We?re thrilled to be recognised in the very place where our Wagyu journey began three years ago with the first taste of this mind-blowing beef. We?d love to know who wrote the article if anyone could help.
Finally, you might have seen my recent post on Facebook that we?re developing our Wagyu charcuterie to add to our salt beef. We hope to have salami and bresaola products ready soon, so stay tuned.
Until next time, enjoy the summer and happy eating!