From Cumbria, to Skye, to London
Top London Chef Supports Preservation of Traditional Skills Across The UK
Skyeskyns, family-run rural tannery on the Isle of Skye has been selected to tan a number of Herdwick sheepskins destined for two Michelin starred chef, Brett Graham, who serves the Herdwick mutton at his restaurant, The Ledbury, in London.
Lake District Farmers, bespoke Cumbrian butchery service, are helping carve a growing niche for the hitherto often underused animal. The hardy hill sheep spend their lives foraging wild herbs, heathers and grasses on the fells and any ewes unlikely to make it through the often harsh winter are brought down to the lush valley pasture to fatten up for six weeks before being slaughtered. Phil Scott of LDF said:
“The farmers we work with are often up to tenth generational and the hill farming knowledge they have is almost intuitive. The resulting slow-matured meat is creamy and rich with an intense, distinctive flavour. Top chefs like Brett are going wild for it and broadening flavour horizons serving it to fine-diners from Notting Hill and beyond!”
Brett Graham, head-chef at the Ledbury, said:
“The traditional rearing of the sheep and provenance and of the meat I prepare is incredibly important. I am passionate about sustainability and supporting local producers where possible. It made sense to take that a step further and use the whole Herdwick beast and have the sheepskins made using another time-honoured skill.”
Brett and Phil decided to contact Skyeskyns, Scotland’s only remaining commercial sheepskin tannery, to produce the skins. Pete Winterbourne, the tanner, now one of the few remaining craftsmen with a working knowledge of traditional wool-on tanning said:
“I used the traditional beam to hand-flesh the raw skins after which they were pickled and tanned before drying and hand finishing by buffing the leather and combing and ironing the wool. We do send our fleeces to homes all over the globe but it’s not every day that they end up in one of the best restaurants in the world!”
Jess Hartwell, of the Skyeskyns family, visited the Ledbury recently and after sampling the Herdwick mutton met Brett Graham who had presented the finished sheepskins to his staff and clients as a New Year gift with a story!
Photographs of Brett Graham, head chef at The Ledbury and his signature Herdwick dish.
The Ledbury restaurant has been regularly voted as the best in London and 20th best in the World.