Despite widespread cancellations this grouse season, estates in the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Group (NYMMO) are witnessing healthy, and in some cases full shooting programmes which in turn continues to benefit local hotels, restaurants and businesses.
With grouse in short supply in other parts of the country, North Yorkshire grouse has been in high demand both locally and further afield, with three in every four grouse supplied from estate in NYMMO making its way into the kitchens of top restaurants and hotels throughout London.
Game dealer L&A Dent works closely with NYMMO and the other regional moorland groups in England to supply fresh grouse breasts vacuum packed to outlets across the country.
Andrew Dent, of L&A Dent Game Dealers, said: “Each season we take 90% of the grouse available from estates in NYMMO. This year we are down 70% on trade from last year due to the poor season currently being witnessed throughout the country, so this steady supply of grouse from North York Moors is vitally important to our business, it would be a disaster without it.
“We run a large-scale distribution operation focusing on supplying the wholesale catering trade both locally and beyond. London is a huge market for grouse with 80% of our young birds making its way to restaurants throughout the city, 72% of which is grouse supplied from estates within NYMMO. We also supply a large volume of adult grouse to Europe, the Scandinavian market in particular.”
People’s taste buds and attitudes to sustainably sourced food are changing and people are readily choosing to eat produce with provenance. NYMMO has been working closely with estates supplying grouse directly to local hotels and restaurants who are passionate about showcasing the best fresh and seasonal produce found in Yorkshire.
One such estate supplying fresh grouse to local outlets is Spaunton Estate in Ryedale.
George Thompson of Spaunton Estate said: “The estate has recently invested several thousand pounds on converting a derelict estate building into a game meat handling room. The facility is registered with Ryedale Council and gamekeepers have the required hygiene certification for handling and processing game meat for consumption. This new room allows us to dress all game shot on the estate with no wastage whatsoever and reducing the carbon footprint of our fresh game meat. We supply everything we shoot into local businesses and are passionate about the sustainability of grouse from ‘moor to mouth’.”
A local business receiving grouse is retail butcher S Waind & Sons Ltd in Kirkbymoorside.
Richard Waind, of S Waind & Sons, said: “We have been receiving dressed grouse from local estates in North Yorkshire for the past three years and have developed grouse sausages and burgers which have been a real hit with the public. Whole grouse birds for roasting have also sold well and a new addition to our grouse offering this year has been filleted grouse breasts. We are always looking at new and exciting produce to cater for local tastes and are considering slow cooked grouse legs next season. Grouse is a low-fat healthy meat offering a rich flavour and it is fantastic that consumers are now eating far more consciously by choosing game produce in season.”
One of the North Yorkshire hotels taking regular delivery of fresh grouse from Pennyholme Estate and Bransdale Moor, members of NYMMO, is the Michelin-starred ‘Star Inn’ at Harome.
Andrew Pern, owner of the Star Inn, said: “We are firmly rooted in North Yorkshire and pride ourselves on modern Yorkshire cooking. We place great emphasis on sourcing regional and seasonal produced with grouse being a firm favourite having been on our menus for over 22 years. Our current main course grouse dish includes a bramble and apple charlotte with sloe gin juice. We include grouse as part of our tasting menus and also offer a grouse starter which sells really well as guests might shy away from trying it as their main course.
“We are very proud of our connection with the shooting community and thanks to visiting shooting parties, our business is as busy in autumn and early winter, as it is in summer. During the season we cater for shooting party lunches and also open our pub specifically to cater for parties as they often look to return late afternoon, both of which also benefit our business.”
Tina Brough, of the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation, said: “Grouse is a delicious yet sustainable, healthy food source and we have been working closely with estates, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets to highlight the ‘hill-to-plate’ credentials of grouse. We have noticed a marked increase in the number of local outlets now stocking grouse as they recognise the market demand for it as a flavoursome game meat. Likewise, restaurants and hotel who have it on as a sell-out daily special.
“The full shooting programme underway in North York Moors is testament to the hard-work and dedication of our gamekeepers and grouse moor managers who work year-round managing our land for red grouse, which also benefits the local community and businesses whilst supporting vital conservation efforts in the North Yorkshire region.”