Food champion Fred Berkmiller tells us about his latest project: introducing Scots to the taste of the Wagyu of the pork world.

Winner of the inaugural Food Pioneer award 2016, Fred was recognised thanks to his tireless work with Scotland’s producers, sourcing rare meats, vegetables and fruits from all over the country to deliver a unique dining experience.

A champion of some of the nation’s most overlooked produce, his l’escargot restaurants have included delicacies such as Orkney Beef, Barra Snails and Wagyu Beef that’s been reared in Perthshire, among others.

For his latest project, the Edinburgh chef is showcasing his passion of unusual cuts and species, with the purchase of nine Mangalitsa pigs, a Hungarian breed rarely ever seen in UK.

Translated, their name means ‘hog with a lot of lard’, and it is that fat which makes the meat succulent and richly-flavoured, leading to many describing the highly-regarded Mangalitsa as the Wagyu of the pork world.

With many pigs increasingly being bred to contain less and less fat – which takes away a lot of the flavour – the rich marbling of the pure breed Mangalitsa pigs makes the taste of their meat like no other.

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Berkmiller, who believes that many Scots are losing their connection with good food, said: “Understanding and appreciation of quality produce is taught to us at a young age in France. For me, sourcing rare produce like these Mangalista pigs, takes me back to the foundation of good cookery and the reason I fell in love with it – where what mattered was the excellence of the product and the respect given to its quality from the farming and care right through to its cookery.”

Only piglets when they first arrived in Edinburgh, the Mangalitsa have set up home in Gorgie City Farm, under the watchful eye of manager Josiah Lockhart, where, with their curly, long-haired coats, allowing them to be often mistaken as sheep, they are proving to be quite an attraction.

The team will care for the Mangalitsa until they are mature enough to make an appearance on the l’escargot menus.
A true innovator and our official Food Pioneer, watch this space for the complete story, from farm to fork.

• Nominate your choice for the Scottish Food Pioneer 2017 here

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