I recently took the General Manager and some front of house staff to Denham Estate to see exactly what goes into producing the venison, rare breed beef and lamb we serve.
I was amazed at how such a massive operation can be run by just 5 people, but the passion and care certainly showed in the happy beasts we saw. It was a lovely warm October afternoon and the stresses and strains of the hotel business just melted away as we were driven around the estate by Neil Clarke, Stock Manager. Neil first showed us all the rare breed sheep, Denham Castle, Denham Horn and Soay, Wiltshire Horn and Southdown, they all shed their own fleece which saves a job!
On to see the 6 White Park cattle. For the slightest split second I was a vegetarian, then I remembered how good they taste.
Next the deer, roaming in acres of lush countryside they just looked so happy, especially the buck who is expected to mate with 60 females.
The fawns are kept in a large shed for winter, so they can look after them and control their environment. In the Spring they will then be released.
We finished with a look at the butchery where we met Alan Plume, Head Butcher who I knew from Barwells. He looked as relaxed and happy as the animals we had just seen, hardly surprising really. He showed us the meat hanging.
I finalized what I needed for the National Farmers Union dinner we are hosting in November. We then had toreluctantly leave but took with us the knowledge of what we are serving is looked after from field to plate.
Simon Barker, Executive Head Chef, October 2010
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