Great Taste winner celebrated at London Restaurant Week

Premium beef from award winning Hannan Meats of Moira, an Invest Northern Ireland client company, was given pride of place by a top chef at the start of the prestigious London Restaurant Week.

Celebrity chef Mark Hix also marked the achievement of Hannan Meats in winning the Supreme Champion title in this year’s prestigious UK Great Taste Awards by organising a unique ‘Carnivore’s Feast’ at one of his high-end restaurants with a complete menu of beef from Hannan Meats.

Invest NI also sponsors the Northern Ireland regional category in the Great Taste Awards, an initiative by the UK Guild of Fine Foods, to highlight the quality and innovation underpinning food from around the United Kingdom. As well as winning the Supreme Title in the awards, Hannan was also named Northern Ireland Regional Winner.

Hannan Meats was among almost 50 Northern Ireland food and drink companies to win gold stars in this year’s awards. Hannan also set a UK record by winning 26 gold stars. The company, in addition, was among three Northern Ireland companies to have products listed among the Top 50 UK foods.

Hannan Meats, led by Managing Director Peter Hannan, was only the second Northern Ireland company to win the Supreme Champion award. The first was McCartney’s Butchers, also based in Moira, winner of the Supreme Champion title in 2011/12.

The event for London Restaurant Week, now in its second year, also gave Mr Hannan an opportunity to brief diners on what to look for in quality steak. Mr Hix showed diners how to cook sirloin to maximise the meat’s flavour and texture. The event was held at his Oyster and Chop House near Smithfield.

Mark Hix said: “I arranged the event to mark the great achievement of Hannan Meats in deservedly winning the Supreme Champion title in the Great Taste Awards and to acknowledge Peter Hannan's creativity in developing premium meat and providing superb customer service.”

Mr Hix runs seven quality restaurants in London that all feature beef and bacon provided by the Northern Ireland company.

Diners were among the first in the UK to experience beef from a unique Himalayan Salt Chamber in Europe installed by Hannan Meats to develop a range of dry-aged beef products. The salt chamber at the Moira plant is the first in Europe.

Mr Hannan, who set up the business in 1989, imported the salt blocks from the foothills of the Himalaya’s in Pakistan to offer customers dry-aged beef with a distinctively rich flavour and texture.

The initiative by Mark Hix involving Hannan Meats was welcomed by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food and Tourism Director, who said: “This is a tremendous endorsement of the quality of beef from this highly innovative Northern Ireland company by one of the UK’s most creative and respected chefs and restaurateurs.

“This marvellous event also showcased the strategic focus of Hannan Meats on developing highly innovative beef and other meats particularly for foodservice operators in the United Kingdom. As a result if its success in the Great Taste Awards, Hannan Meats is now seeing rapid growth in its meat wholesaling activities.

“Our support for the Great Taste Awards is part of our commitment to help Northern Ireland companies to increase visibility in the strategically important British market which currently imports food and drink worth £18 billion annually from suppliers outside the UK.”

Mr Hannan, commenting on the event, said: “We were delighted when Mark decided to create an original menu for London Restaurant Week based exclusively on the meat products that we’ve developed in our salt chamber using beef from our farmers in Northern Ireland.

“The event gave us an exceptional opportunity to show the superb quality of meat now readily available from Northern Ireland suppliers that top chefs can use to create wonderful menus for diners seeking delicious and different meals using high quality ingredients with provenance.

“Being named Supreme Champion in this year’s UK Great Taste Awards and the endorsement by Mark Hix has resulted in a huge increase in our products and orders from other foodservice operators as well as top retailers such as Fortnum and Mason. The Great Taste Awards has given our business a tremendous boost.

“Sales of our award winning guanciale product, for instance, have grown an amazing 1,500 per cent in the past month.”

The beef selected for the event was also the first consignment of European Angus beef to be supplied to UK. The beef is 75 per cent pure Angus.

Hannan Meats has formed a producer / processor alliance in the last few months.