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Watch: Chef Nick Nairn tastes Scotland's first buffalo mozzarella

Celebrity chef Nick Nairn has been one of the first to taste Scotland's first buffalo mozzarella, as Fife's buffalo farm gets the green light for production.

Published: June 15, 2021
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Owner of the farm, Steve Mitchell, has started producing Scotland’s first buffalo mozzarella cheese from his farm outside Kirkcaldy in the Kingdom of Fife.

The move realises a dream Steve has had since he established the business in 2005, with his small herd of Water Buffalo selling buffalo meat and burgers at farmers markets.

His dream was further fuelled with the visit of Gordon Ramsay several years back, where together, they made a trial batch of buffalo mozzarella.

At that point, Gordon said he wanted to invest if he was to produce Buffalo Mozzarella.

After enduring a roller-coaster period that saw highs with national TV coverage, Steve thought his dream was over when a major investor pulled out at the last minute – leaving him with no option but to sell a large part of his herd.

Not one to give up without a fight, Steve decided to launch his ambitious crowdfunding campaign just under two years ago, where he successfully raised £800,000 from customers from across the UK and has seen the Buffalo Farm become Scotland’s first and only producer of Buffalo Mozzarella.

Steve has been able to build his custom-designed dairy parlour and Mozzarella Production facility, where production is now underway.

Steve has assembled what he describes as a world-class team to produce a world-class Scottish buffalo mozzarella, strengthening his farming team, bringing in expert cheese-making skills and bolstering his commercial operations.

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Steve explained, “We are now embarking on the most exciting and the most terrifying part of the project.

"We now have to live up to the targets and expectations we have set ourselves and discover whether the market enjoys our Scottish buffalo mozzarella as much as we do.

"I have been lucky enough to tour some of the most respected Buffalo Farms in Italy, tasting their wonderful produce, and we wanted to create a product which put Scotland on the map and could be considered as being world-class.

"Provenance is so important in food and never more so than in buffalo mozzarella.

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"Our cheese is produced in a matter of hours, from milking to finished balls of mozzarella.

"As a result, you can really smell and taste the freshness compared to one from an overseas producer that has had to travel for days – I am absolutely thrilled at the quality we have achieved.”

The Buffalo Farm has already ready received notes of interest from a number of retailers, restaurants and wholesalers who are keen to take the exciting new product.

Chef Nick Nairn, a long time supporter of the Buffalo Farm and one of the first people to suggest Steve should start producing the Buffalo Farm, commented “It's been a long wait but it was worth it."

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The farm has released a video of Nick trying the cheese, which starts with Steve in his car driving to Nick's restaurant in Bridge of Allan, where he admits he is nervous as Nick is 'a straight talker'.

Steve said: "It's all well and good having passion but it (the cheese) has to taste good, that's what'll make the product sink or swim.

"Getting someone like Nick to try it and get his feedback is really important and a big step, so I am a bit nervous...but also confident."

Nick and Steve then chat about first meeting in 2005 at Nick Nairn's Cook School, where they made buffalo burgers - and when Nick first suggested Steve try and make Scottish mozzarella.

15 years later, 'and a few grey hairs' that suggestion has become a reality.

Nick Nairn said: "I am so excited by this whole process, the last time I saw you, you'd just started your crowdfunding and now here it is."

Steve then presents Nick with a box of mozzarella 'oddballs' - a catering pack of cheese - as well as the retail product.

Nick then goes on to taste the cheese, saying: "Wow, that's brilliant. It's glorious. I love the acidity, the flavour and I love that it's a Scottish product".

Steve also presets Nick with his buffalo milk ice cream in Scottish raspberry ripple and pure buffalo flavours.

Nick declares that the raspberry ripple is lovely and the pure buffalo 'extraordinary'.

The ice cream has been made by the team while they waited on validation (for selling) the cheese - so that no milk was going to waste.

Steve is working with his team, which includes a former member of staff from a buffalo farm in Venezuela, to support the continued growth of the product without compromising the quality.

Steve continued: “I would much rather produce small batches of world-class cheese than compromise what we have.

"We have been given the opportunity to create something quite special and the team is determined to make Scotland a force to be reckoned with in the world Buffalo Mozzarella market.”

Lucy Husband, market development and business engagement director at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “The ambition and drive of Steve and the team at The Buffalo Farm to produce Scotland's first buffalo mozzarella has been nothing short of inspiring.

"As members of Scotland Food & Drink since 2015, it's been amazing to watch them grow and see that sustainability has been at the heart of creating this product.

"This is another excellent example of how diverse Scotland's larder truly is, which is only made possible by having producers like The Buffalo Farm."

The Scottish buffalo mozarella is available to buy in the farm shop and online now, as well as in local shops.

Find out more here.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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