A GROUP of second year professional cookery students from West College Scotland in Clydebank had the opportunity to hone their skills recently thanks to a demonstration from an award winning butcher.

Nigel Ovens of McCaskie Butcher in Wemyss Bay emphasised to the group the importance of building a strong relationship with their butcher.

This, he told the group, ensures the meat is prepared in the best possible way, the chef receives the most suitable cut for specific dishes and, ultimately, the client in the restaurant has a more memorable eating experience.

During the Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) demonstration, the students were also shown techniques and skills to guarantee the consistency of the meat and also how to, in some circumstances, increase the potential of certain muscles traditionally perceived as lower value, slower cooking cuts.

The important role of the farmer was also explained, and the participants were encouraged to make use of the traceability and available information on how the animal has been reared.

Jack McMillan, who is currently undertaking a level two professional cookery course at the college, said: “Learning from such an experienced and well-respected butcher such as Nigel has been a fantastic experience.

“I have certainly come away with a raft of new information and skills which will help me make the most of the meat I use when cooking.”

The butchery demonstration was part of a range of activities QMS undertakes with colleges to increase skills and promote the versatility and quality of Scotch beef PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), Scotch lamb PGI and specially selected pork.

QMS marketing executive Ciara El-Mansi said that butchery demonstrations are a fantastic, hands-on way for up-and-coming chefs to learn about how to make the most of the Scotch Beef PGI that they buy.

She added: “Producing great tasting Scotch Beef PGI is a combined effort of farmer, processor, butcher and chef and the more they understand about each other’s role the better.

“We have a world-class product right here on our doorstep and it’s important that these young talented chefs are confident to make the most out of it, producing great tasting dishes for their customers.”