REVIEW: Spring Gastronomy evening, showcasing AHDB Beef and Lamb at Saunton Sands Hotel by Sue Stoneman

A recipe for a fantastic evening is when you bring together some fabulous chefs who create outstanding plates of food using wonderful West Country Beef and Lamb.

Dez Turland & Louisa Ellis

We are so fortunate to live in a county where we can find plenty of excellent quality produce and for me, as a Home Cook, BBqer, foodie and blogger, I am always interested to know where foods are produced, as close to home as possible, learning about the journey from field to fork and I enjoy coming across these products on my travels around the region and cooking up tasty meals in my kitchen or outside on my BBQs.

We were recently invited along to a West Country Beef and Lamb evening being held at The Saunton Sands Hotel, North Devon to find out more about the work of the West Country Beef and West Country Lamb projects.  The aim of the event was to spread the awareness of its existence to as many people as possible and to highlight how important it is to the whole of the region.

What exactly is it all about?

Karl Pendlebury, Senior Manager of the Quality Standard Mark (QSM) who organised the event explains it here:

quality meat

“The whole West Country Beef and West Country Lamb projects started around 16 years ago when a group of forward thinking farmers thought about how to help the regions beef and lamb industry and came up with creating PGI scheme for beef and lamb (Product of Geographical Indications) – this means it has special properties that can’t be easily replicated anywhere else and it is protected that nowhere else (in the world) can use the words WEST COUNTRY BEEF or WEST COUNTRY LAMB without the stock being “born, reared and taken to finishing weights” within the six counties of the west country, it can however be processed in any factory or butchers that has logged registration with the scheme. The paperwork became too much for the farmers to maintain along with their everyday work of managing the farms and this is how AHDB become involved with the project on behalf of the South West farmers.

The Logos must also be used when using the words WEST COUNTRY BEEF, WEST COUTRY LAMB or WEST COUNTRY BEEF & LAMB (technically the schemes are separate for Beef and Lamb (so one can operate without the other should it ever need to)

So the six counties that the cattle and lambs must be born reared and finished in are


What makes the beef and lamb special is the grass and flowering meadows of the region and climate which is generally slightly warmer and more days wetter than the rest of the country which leads to some fantastic grass and meadow growths – when stock are fed on this as a minimum of 70% of their diets a proportion of the saturated fats changes to more of the Omega 3 and 6s which also changes the flavour profile slightly. “

Image Courtesy of Pavlova & Cream/QSM

The highlight of the evening was the excellent meal which was put together by the following chefs using West Country Beef and Lamb. The quality of the meat shone through in the wonderful dishes.

The Chefs:
Louisa Ellis, Private Chef, MasterChef Finalist 2017
Hari Ghotra, Authentic Indian Cook, Author and Teacher
Chris Wheeler, Executive Chef Stoke Park Luxury Hotel Golf Spa and Country Club
Dez Turland, PR & Marketing Chef Saunton Sands Hotel / Brend Hotels
Phoenix Di’Giorgi, Pastry Chef Saunton Sands Hotel

Gallery photos courtesy of Pavlova & Cream/QSM Lamb & Beef

The Menu:
Exmoor Dry Aged Beef Tartare
Kashmiri Chilli Lamb
Surf and Turf
Cornish Lamb
Chocolate Tart

The first dish out of the kitchen was Beef Tartare. This was the first time I have ever eaten it. I really can’t believe it’s taken me so long! The cut of beef for this dish which Louisa used was sirloin, the fat removed (rendered down and used to fry the croutons) which had been carefully cut into small cubes, mixed with secret ingredients and then topped with the crispy croutons, egg yolk puree and an oyster leaf. 

It was a very light and delicate dish, a perfect way to enjoy the full raw flavour of the wonderful West Country Beef.

Hari’s Chilli Lamb dish took us briefly to India, the melt in the mouth lamb (cut from a rack) marinated in spices, served with a fresh onion salad and a cooling creamy avocado yoghurt which was delicious. I think everyone, including me, picked up the bones and nibbled off every piece of meat.

Chris’s dish was a beautiful piece of Exmoor beef fillet topped off with a grilled scallop on a bed of mushroom risotto and some baby turnips. The knife cut through the beef like butter and it melted in the mouth. The scallop was perfectly cooked. Yum.

The next dish was cooked by Dez Turland. I’ve known Dez for a few years now on the Food and Drink Festival scene and at the Chef’s Forum events so it was a real treat to eat one of his dishes. He told me that he had used the trimmings from the shoulder layered in with the thinly sliced potatoes, (a bit like boulangere but cooked in butter) demonstrating an excellent way to reduce waste and get maximum value – and flavour into your dish. I like that idea. What a tasty plate of food.  Thanks Dez!

I know the evening was mainly all about the meat, but the dessert needs a mention too. It was a lovely rich chocolate tart which was a perfect finish to the meal.

If you asked me to pick my favourite meat dish of the evening I can’t. I came away inspired to recreate these dishes at home, using West Country Beef and Lamb, as well as using local produce from the excellent larder from the region we live in. Good quality produce at its best, cooked well and with passion.

Thanks to Chris Wheeler who gave everyone a copy of his swish new book!

You can find informative videos on the QSM Beef and Lamb facebook page from talented chefs ‘off the block’ which are worth checking out including one from our very own local Michelin Starred Chef Michael Caines OBE. It’s a very useful tool for chefs of all abilities and even for the home cooks.

For further information about the scheme, please visit the following websitehttp ://

You can sign up for a monthly newsletter which details lots of useful information and also there are over 700 beef and lamb recipes on this link:

Next events coming up shortly:

London Kitchen Social Live, promoting the wonders of watercress alongside showcasing Quality Standard Mark Beef and Lamb, is on Monday 25th March at Grace Hall London. (between Liverpool St and Bank underground stations)

QSM Beef and Lamb Dinner headed up by Chris Wheeler QSM Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chef on Friday 29th March at the 5* Stoke Park Hotel, Park Road Stoke Poges, Slough, Buckinghamshire SL2 4PG.  Tickets available via the hotel tel: 01753 717171

For any further information, please contact Karl Pendlebury, AHDB Senior Manager of the Quality Standard Mark (QSM)

QSM Hotline: 08454918787

Facebook: QSM Beef and Lamb

Twitter: @qsm_beeflamb

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