Meet the chef: Ian Boden, development chef for Alliance Group

15/01/2018 - 15:23
This month, Nicola Proud from the Craft Guild of Chefs social media team spoke to Ian Boden, development chef for Alliance Group, about the company's Pure South brand and the importance of both lamb and venison to the brand, chefs and consumers alike.
  • Why did you decide to start working with the Alliance Group?

The Alliance Group and its Pure South brand is an interesting story. It’s a co-operative of New Zealand farmers creating the highest quality lamb and venison products. To give you some background, Alliance started as a group of farmers in 1948 and is now owned by more than 5,000 farmer stakeholders.

The co-operative’s eight processing plants have been supplying the majority of UK retailers over the last 20 years. In recent months, Alliance has developed a lamb and venison product range dedicated to the foodservice sector. This felt like both an exciting time and project for me to get involved in. It has allowed me to help develop products, be creative with culinary ideas and work with a great team to get the products out into the market.

  • What makes lamb such a special ingredient?

Lamb has always been a great ingredient to cook with, but there is something very special about the Pure South lamb. The way it is bred - outdoors in fields - gives it a natural and distinctive flavour. With lamb, there are so many different cuts you can use within dishes which makes it very versatile - it’s a truly fantastic product. One of my roles is to help chefs learn about the different cuts, some of which aren’t as always well-known, and to demonstrate how they can use them on menus.

  • Pure South also do venison, can you tell us what you love most about cooking venison?

Venison is a fantastic meat to work with as it’s got such a distinctive flavour. People see venison as a very seasonal dish, but it sits beautifully on the menu all year round.

  • Are there any common misconceptions about lamb?

Yes, lamb is often regarded as an expensive meat to use and buy. However, there are lots of cuts that are cheaper than say, a rack of lamb. Pure South do a shoulder rack that is almost half the price and tastes fantastic. We are providing opportunities to get a rack of lamb on the menu at a much lower cost for both chefs and diners, without impacting quality.

  • As a product, what is the best feature of the Pure South NZ lamb?

For me, the main selling point is that you know exactly where it comes from and there is real consistency with the product, whatever the weather and all year round. To have that confidence in your products as a chef makes a huge difference when planning menus and making food purchases. 

  • If you were serving Pure South products in a restaurant how would you promote this to your diners?

All the Pure South products provide a feeling of quality. You know you are serving customers a premium product that has been reared outdoors, in the best conditions and has been properly cared for. Along with the creativity and talent of the chefs cooking, this provides customers with a delicious, flavoursome dish that will leave them wanting more.  

  • What’s your favourite lamb dish to create?

That’s a tricky one as there are so many lamb dishes I love to cook. However, I’d have to say something like a Moroccan spiced lamb shoulder with pickled red cabbage and couscous.

You can learn more about the Alliance Group and Pure South at http://puresouth.co.uk/

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