GUEST FEATURE - Matt Williams and Matt Burgess, Black Deer Live Fire team
Wednesday 10 July 2019

Summer is fully in swing, and here at Dovecote Park that means a range of new products for the outdoor grill (or the indoor pan if the English weather proves a fickle friend). This season has seen us launch a range of brand new seasonal products for the retail consumer, including green harissa beef kebabs and steaks caressed in a New York style dry rub, along with a venison steak matched with tart cherry ketchup and of course a selection of British beef burgers from classic rump steak to peppered to black garlic infused. As a business, we take barbecue very seriously – which is why we found ourselves in our element at Black Deer.

Perhaps the two things best associated with the UK summer are barbecues and music festivals. It was only a matter of time before the two combined, a shining example of which can be seen at Black Deer, the UK’s first country music, Americana…. and barbecue festival. Sure, it’s not exactly billed as a ‘barbecue festival’, but there is no UK music festival in memory where food plays such a central role. Barbecue is a religion in the southern states where country music evolved, and as such no true festival in the genre is complete without a display of grill-mastery.

Live Fire is Black Deer’s bespoke barbecue wing, where chefs from all around the country compete for the title of Grand Champion, whilst experts on all matters of the grill offer demonstrations delving into the finer points of this beloved culinary subgenre, the event compered by Ray ‘Dr Barbecue’ Lampe, the US grill-titan widely considered the leading US voice of barbecue. The air is thick with hickory smoke and the aroma of slow-cooked brisket, whilst the fiddles and banjos muse in the background. It’s a wonderful place.  We sat down with Matt Burgess and Matt Williams - aka ‘the two Matts’ - from the Black Deer demo team to talk British meat, British wood and world cooking…. and to see what we could learn from their expertise.

Matt Williams
, dubbed the ‘King of Charcoal’ by the media is among the worlds leading voices in the unsung charcoal sector, praised for his commitment to British charcoal and sustainability.

‘I’m introduced here as a chef, but that’s really not what I do' states Williams – 'I live in this world and spend my life with these people because I came into it through forestry, through a guiding passion for doing the best things for the woodlands in our country. People aren’t buying wooden furniture anymore, they go to IKEA for that, we need to find markets for it to stop our woodlands dying – and we all know we need them to be resilient and working for us. And, happily for the world of barbecue, the most sensible thing I can do for our ancient woodland which needs to be restored is to make excellent charcoal from our wood.

'Sustainability is a weird word – essentially all it means is, if I take a thing will it come back? If you cut down a hectare of virgin rainforest will it grow back? Yes, it will, but you will have destroyed a huge ecosystem in doing so. The difficulty sometimes with the idea of putting across an ecologically sound way of interacting with our world is that the phrases and soundbites we are used to don’t really cover what we want to talk about. And I love being in the world of barbecue, with these amazing chefs like Matt here, who runs these incredible restaurants where they think carefully about what they do and the impact they have – and that’s what I want to do, think carefully about the things we take from the environment in doing what we do. As they experiment with flavor and cooking techniques, I experiment with charcoal’.

Williams Friday demonstration subverts every preconceived image of a run-of-the-mill grill demo – alongside his accomplice Chops, he shows the crowd how to make a bespoke kiln using a handful of wood and a watering can, before Burgess is brought on stage to cook a slab of beef directly over the spouts open flame. While the charcoal distills, plaited beef fillet is seasoned, grilled and dressed with a beer and grilled-oyster sauce. Having seen their experiment triumph, Williams and Chops break into a southern-style air guitar victory dance. This is a next-level demo, a prime example of how to turn a technical walkthrough and cookery display into a piece of showmanship.

The electric watering can flaming experience of exuberant joy and happiness’ Williams dubs the experiment afterwards. ‘We do it in a silly way – it’s nice to be a bit silly when you have something incredibly serious to say. As mere British people, we look at our cultural food background with a bit of disdain. We’re prone to look down on things that are considered commonplace, the fish-and-chip culture, but there are amazing things going on in the UK'

Matt Burgess
, a New Zealand born chef based in West London has long a hot topic in the city’s gastronomic circles, best known as the executive chef of the revered Caravan chain. His signature style of ‘free cooking’, endless culinary ventures – ‘Five restaurants, a bakery, a coffee roastery and a takeaway,’ he states, counting on his fingers, ‘I keep saying not another one but then…’ and work around the grill has made him a respected authority in this world – returning to judge the Black Deer entrants for a second year.

Speaking on the importance of high quality raw ingredients (both meat and charcoal) Burgess says ‘It makes our job easy. If you’ve got the great product to begin with, the end product will the best. If its been treated well and it tastes delicious, and its seasoned than everything is done. And as we grow as chefs and producers we get to a stage where we’re more focused on the ingredient and serving it simply. And while I do a lot of weird and wonderful things through free cooking, for me its still about the product and the beginning of that product and where it comes from. I have a conscience, and I do not want to use products which don’t make me sleep at night.’

Describing the cooking style which drives him, Burgess says, ‘Free cooking comes from a place of no boundaries. I’m from New Zealand, where our nation is 200 years old, so we don’t have a cuisine as such. So we’ve taken cuisines from all over the world and made them our own. I will take a bit of French, Spanish influence and maybe a bit of Thai flavour to make it a unique, delicious, beautiful dish. Which is why I make sure to use great products like Matts charcoal and the best quality meat – for tomorrow I’ve got some beautiful lamb from the South Downs which I got through Ginger Pig, one of the best butchers.’ ‘I’ve developed a tamarind ketchup using the basis of Heinz ketchup – I’ve got some beautiful lamb leg from the South Downs – I’m going to butterfly that open, grill it, and some green papaya, which the Thai use as the base of a som tam salad – with some cucumber and mint. I’ll dress the whole salad with the tamarind ketchup. For me cooking’s got to be accessible and I think people often don’t see that these Asian ingredients – sesame oil, tamarind, soy sauce- are just seasonings which you can use to transform any dish.’ ‘Cooking in the UK has changed fundamentally in the last 20 years. The people around me right here at this festival are spearheading so many great products, cooking implements, equipment. When I first came to the UK, there were 5 Michelin star restaurants in London – now there are 150. I think that showcases all the great work we’re doing in the UK.’

The closing day of the festival sees Burgess take to the stage, where he invites an associate to demonstrate the butterflying of the lamb while he assembles the raw ingredients. Watching butchery done before an intrigued crowd is a refreshing sight rarely seen outside of industry events – at Black Deer punters witness several practical displays of butchery, with a roe deer butchered before the crowd on the first day. Between making time for this most crucial craft and the unorthodox charcoal, Black Deer’s food component displays a commitment to more than just the food on the plate and Burgess is an ideal demo chef – entertaining to watch and with a passion for food which comes across in every word. His finished dish is a true sensory experience – visually engaging, the lamb rich and fork tender with the tamarind ketchup packing a intense, lingering flavour which still remains as the first of the Main Stage headliners tune their instruments in preparation.

It was a pleasure to see British product given such pride of place at a genre music festival, and we hope to return to Black Deer as it continues the excellent work it does in the barbecue arena. Thanks to both the Matts for taking the time to talk to us!   


Waitrose win big at Compassion in World Farming Awards
Wednesday 24 July 2019
Waitrose continued their winning streak at last weeks Compassion in World Farming Awards in Brussels - collecting the title of Best Retailer for a seventh time, along with an award for Best Retail Marketing.

GUEST FEATURE - Matt Williams and Matt Burgess, Black Deer Live Fire team
Wednesday 10 July 2019
We talked barbecue with two industry greats at Black Deer Festival.

New Barbecue and Summer products for 2019
Monday 06 May 2019
Summer is here, and we are delighted to announce the launch of several new lines for this years BBQ season, along with a few new additions to the Summer pre-pack range. We are also pleased to bring back some successful products from previous launches - all available at Waitrose stores now!

Dovecote Park bespoke venison facility wins at RIBDA awards
Monday 18 March 2019
We were delighted to see S+A Fabrications - with whom we have worked on several industrial design projects - receive the Industrial award at the RIBDA awards on March 15th. The award recognised their outstanding work on our bespoke Venison and Lairage Processing Facility.

Dovecote Park win Training Champion Award
Thursday 07 March 2019
We were delighted to receive the award for Training Champion - Large Business at the inaugural East Riding Apprentice Awards on March 6th - yet another accolade for our growing Apprenticeship scheme.

Wagyu beef launched at the Waitrose service counter
Wednesday 30 January 2019
We are delighted to announce the launch of a range of Wagyu products at selected Waitrose service counters - available in the form of fillet, sirloin, rib-eye or Denver steak.

Christmas products for 2018
Monday 10 December 2018
We are delighted to announce the launch of six new lines for Christmas 2018, along with our existing Christmas products for the Waitrose shelf. Merry Christmas from Dovecote Park!!

Dovecote Park triumph at Princess Royal Awards
Thursday 22 November 2018
We are delighted to have received the Princess Royal Training award, presented by HRH Princess Anne at a St. James Palace ceremony in November.

Dovecote Park visited by Selby MP
Friday 09 November 2018
On Friday 9th November we were honoured to welcome Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, to our Stapleton site, where he visited our bespoke Apprentice line and spoke with a number of our butchery apprentices. 

FDQ visit Stapleton to recognise abattoir and training staff
Wednesday 24 October 2018
Tuesday 23rd October saw our Stapleton site visited by Jo Sterritt and Joe Seddon, in order to recognise the hard work undertaken by our abattoir and training staff in making Dovecote Park an FDQ approved WATOK (Welfare at the Time of Killing) centre.

Dovecote Park producers honored at 2018 Waitrose Farming Conference
Thursday 11 October 2018
Wednesday 10th October saw over 400 Waitrose suppliers and delegates gather at Telford's International Business Centre, where we were delighted to see a number of Dovecote Park suppliers recognized for their achievements in the industry.

Dovecote Park and Newtech collaborate on latest addition to site
Wednesday 01 August 2018
We are pleased to be underway with the latest addition to our site's landscape - in the form of a robotic dry-age refrigeration system, currently being installed by our sister company, Newtech.

Phillippa Helme nominated for Women in Meat Rising Star Award
Tuesday 31 July 2018
We are delighted to announce that Phillippa Helme (NPD) has been among the first women to be nominated for the Rising Star award at the Women in Meat awards, scheduled to be held in London in November.

Dovecote Park producer hosts Country Trust event
Monday 18 June 2018
This June, our livestock team were delighted to organise a Country Trust event for 30 schoolchildren at the farm of Elizabeth Jervis, one of our beef producers. Here, Cattle Connect Manager Laura Masters shares her experience of the event.

Dovecote Park and WATOK: An update
Tuesday 12 June 2018
Over the last 2 years, Dovecote Park have continued to improve our standards as an industry leading business when it comes to animal welfare - including becoming a licensed animal welfare training centre in 2016, and now licensed to train independently from our site.

New lines introduced for Barbecue Launch 2018
Monday 30 April 2018
We are proud to announce the launch of several brand new products to the Waitrose shelf for barbecue season 2018. Among our new lines are several additions to our burger range, two new kebab products, and our Treacle Cured Flat Iron Steak, which celebrates our bespoke smoking facilities.

Dovecote Park CEO talks Brexit at NFU Conference
Wednesday 28 March 2018
This years NFU Conference, held at the NEC Centre in Birmingham saw Dovecote Park's Joint Chief Executive David Gunner join a panel of industry experts discussing the potential impact of Brexit on the agricultural sector.

Gender Pay Reporting 2017
Tuesday 27 March 2018
National statistics show that generally men are paid more than women are. Companies with more than 250 employees have been asked by the Government to publish any pay difference experienced by men and women (it is referred to as the ‘pay gap’).

Waitrose Managing Director Rob Collins opens venison facilities
Monday 19 March 2018
On Friday 16th March, we were honoured to welcome Rob Collins, Managing Director of Waitrose, to our Stapleton site to officially open our bespoke venison facilities.

New products for January 2018
Thursday 01 February 2018
The first month of 2018 has been one of our busiest yet for new products, with ten new additions to the Waitrose shelf over the course of January. 

Dovecote Park Carcase Competition makes a return to Skellingthorpe
Monday 29 January 2018
On Thursday 25th January, our Bi-Annual Carcase Contest made a much welcomed return to Skellingthorpe, with over 90 of our producers submitting cattle to the judging panel.

Dovecote Park launch 2017 Christmas products
Monday 11 December 2017
We are delighted to announce the launch of several new products for the Christmas 2017 season - including several returning products from previous years, and a number of brand new items such as the British Beef Top Rump with Honey Mustard Basting Fat and the Sticky Fig, Prosciutto and Parmesan Rib of Beef.

Dovecote Park at the 2017 Waitrose Farming Conference
Wednesday 15 November 2017
On 14th October, several Directors and members of the Livestock team, along with a group of Dovecote Park producers attended the 9th Waitrose Farming Conference at Telford International Conference Centre.  

Macmillan Coffee Morning
Monday 16 October 2017
We were delighted to once again host our annual Macmillan Coffee Morning at our Stapleton site, in order to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

September sees launch of new autumn lines
Monday 25 September 2017
We are pleased to announce the launch of several new products for the Waitrose shelf, including a new Easy to Cook line and a re-branding of two of our Waitrose1 products - available in stores on September 25th.

New developments at the Waitrose service counter
Wednesday 02 August 2017
We are pleased to see the success of several Dry Aged Cabinets in select Waitrose stores - the latest in a series of service counter improvements overseen by our Development Director David Redman.

Dovecote Park score top grade at BRC audit
Monday 17 July 2017
We were delighted to receive an A* grade at our recent unannounced BRC audit on July 17th.

Waitrose awarded Best Retailer in animal welfare awards
Monday 03 July 2017
We were pleased to see Waitrose awarded Best Retailer at the Compassion in World Farming Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards - the sixth time the supermarket has won the award.

Summer heatwave sees record production levels
Wednesday 28 June 2017
The searing temperatures seen across the country in June saw Waitrose customers flocking to stores for barbecue supplies - meaning record levels of production for our hardworking factory staff here at Dovecote! 

Dovecote Park at 2017 Beef Expo
Monday 22 May 2017
We were pleased to take part in the 2017 NBA Beef Expo on Thursday 18th May, where several members of the Dovecote Park livestock team travelled to Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire to represent the business at one of the industry's leading events.

April sees new products launch at Dovecote Park
Monday 10 April 2017
We are delighted to announce the launch of several new products into Waitrose stores - including a new Easy to Cook Mediterranean Encroute and three additions to our veal range. 

Dovecote Park receive award for apprenticeship scheme
Friday 31 March 2017
We were delighted to see our Apprenticeship scheme recognized at the East Riding College internal awards in Beverley on March 20th. 

Waitrose sees fifth year at top of Business Benchmark in Farm Animal Welfare
Monday 23 January 2017
We were pleased to see Waitrose ranked - for the fifth year running -  in the top tier of the Business Benchmark in Farm Animal Welfare, a leading global animal welfare audit which assesses food businesses worldwide on their apporach to animal welfare practices. 

Brand new Christmas products for Waitrose
Monday 12 December 2016
Merry Christmas from the team at Dovecote Park! To mark the Yuletide season, our NPD team have been hard at work developing a range of Christmas products for the Waitrose shelf! This Christmas marks the launch of bacon wrapped sirloin medallions and British beef rump, along with a dry aged sirloin for the Waitrose1 line. We caught up with the NPD team for a taste of the brand new products.

Dovecote Park at the Waitrose Farming Conference
Wednesday 02 November 2016
We were delighted to see the hard work of some of our producers recognized at the 8th Waitrose Farming Conference, held on November 1st at the Telford International Centre. 

Dovecote Park producers featured as Beef Farmer of the Year finalists
Monday 15 August 2016
We are delighted to announce that two producers who supply cattle to Dovecote Park have been named as finalists in the upcoming Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year award, to be announced in London on October 6th. 

Dovecote Park reaps benefits from wind turbine
Friday 29 July 2016
Dovecote Park are constantly looking into methods to become a greener business and reduce our carbon footprint, as well as reducing our energy costs. Our latest venture has seen an addition to our Stapleton site, in the form of a 50ft wind turbine, from which we have already seen considerable benefits.

Dovecote Park products feature in brand new Waitrose1 launch
Thursday 16 June 2016
Waitrose launched Waitrose1 its first premium range this month, the supermarkets first range in nine years. Among the 800+ products included in the new range are nearly 20 from Dovecote Park - including several existing products given an exciting re-brand, and a few brand new ones!

Dovecote Park at 2016 Beef Expo
Monday 23 May 2016
On Friday May 20th, our Livestock team were among 140 trade stands at the 2016 NBA Beef Expo, one of the most important events in the beef sector calendar.

Dovecote Park staff make another visit to Plumstead Manor School
Thursday 10 March 2016
On Tuesday 8th March, Laura Masters (Livestock) and Robyn Simpson (Commercial) visited Plumstead Manor School to share their experiences within the beef industry with a group of female secondary school students.

Waitrose receive top ranking in Business Benchmark in Farm Animal Welfare
Monday 01 February 2016
We are delighted to report that Waitrose have been ranked in the top tier once again in a global animal welfare audit, conducted by the Business Benchmark in Farm Animal Welfare.

Producers defend their titles at 2016 Carcase Competition
Friday 22 January 2016
On 21st of January, over 100 producers, Dovecote park employees and Waitrose representatives gathered to our Skellingthorpe plant to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Dovecote Park Carcase competition.

PICTURED: Will Brocklehurst accepts the Champion Native prize.

New Christmas joints for Waitrose
Saturday 12 December 2015
We are delighted to announce the launch of two brand new products for the Waitrose Christmas line, the result of months of hard work from our New Product Development team.

Dovecote Park awarded A+* grade at BRC audit
Tuesday 04 August 2015
We are delighted to announce that Dovecote Park were awarded an A+ grade at our recent unannounced BRC audit on August 3rd.

Dovecote Park Open Day at JCB and Wootton Lodge
Wednesday 01 July 2015
On Monday 29th June, we welcomed over 400 of our producers and their families to the JCB Visitor Centre in Staffordshire for a different take on our annual Open Day.

Waitrose awarded Best Retailer at CIWF Awards
Wednesday 10 June 2015
We are pleased to announce that Waitrose have been awarded Best Retailer at the Compassion in World Farming Retail Awards, held in Milan on Tuesday 9th June. 

Dovecote Park at Beef Expo 2015
Friday 22 May 2015
On Thursday 21st May, the Dovecote Park livestock team headed to the York Auction Centre for the 2015 Beef Expo, an annual showcase which celebrates and promotes the British beef sector.

Summer 2015 Barbecue range for Waitrose
Thursday 07 May 2015
We are excited to announce the Summer 2015 barbecue range, available in Waitrose stores across the country now. This years range sees a re-imagining of successful products from previous years adapted to improve customer satisfaction, alongside several brand new products resulting from months of hard work from our New Product Development team.

New Boning Hall Management at Dovecote Park
Friday 01 May 2015
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Carl Hullah to the position of Boning Hall Manager at our Stapleton plant, and of Leon McDonald as Assistant Boning Hall Manager.

Highlanders at Dovecote Park
Monday 27 April 2015
On Friday 24th April, we welcomed a gathering of Dovecote Park Highland Cattle Producers and Highland Cattle Society representatives to our Stapleton site for a scheme meeting and factory tour.

Dovecote Park producer honoured by HM Queen Elizabeth II at Maundy Thursday
Monday 06 April 2015
We are pleased to report that one of our oldest producers, Bill Shepard from Laughton-en-le-Morthen, Sheffield was among the 89 men who received Maundy Money from HM Queen Elizabeth II at last weeks Maundy Thursday ceremony held at Sheffield Cathedral.

Producer Profile - Hereford Producer Richard
Friday 27 March 2015
Our March Producer Profile saw us visit Richard, in Warwickshire who has supplied our Hereford scheme since its origins in 1998, and who has played a key role in promotion of the breed through the Hereford Cattle Society.

Women in Butchery
Monday 09 March 2015
To mark International Women's Day on 8th March, we spoke to Dovecote Park's female butchers about their experiences working in one of the country's most male-dominated professions.

Dovecote Park staff visit Plumstead Manor School
Thursday 05 March 2015
On Wednesday 4th March, three staff members of Dovecote Park went to visit Plumstead Manor School in Greenwich, London, to speak to a group of over 200 female students about their career paths, and their experience working in the beef industry.

Waitrose see top result in global animal welfare report
Wednesday 18 February 2015
We are delighted to report that Waitrose have been awarded 'Tier 1' status in a global animal welfare audit conducted by the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare which measured the approach to animal welfare of 80 worldwide food companies.

Elevating Women in Management
Tuesday 10 February 2015
Leadership & Management Development Programme
The EWIM course was developed by Parity Professionals who have over 23 years’ experience of successfully delivering leadership and management development programmes across a number of business environments... 

EBLEX Live to Dead Event
Wednesday 28 January 2015
On Tuesday 27th January, we held the first of our 2015 Live to Dead Cattle Grading Events at our Skellingthorpe plant, in association with EBLEX's Better Returns Programme...

Dovecote Park 2015 Annual Carcase Competition
Friday 23 January 2015
On Thursday 22nd January, we welcomed 130 of our producers and their families to our Skellingthorpe site for the ninth Dovecote Park Annual Carcase Competition, a highly successful event which displayed first hand the high standards of husbandry upon which we pride ourselves here at Dovecote Park...

Producer Profile: Cattle Connect producer Mark
Thursday 15 January 2015
For the first of our 2015 Producer Profiles, we sat down with Mark, one of the producers on our Cattle Connect scheme, to discuss his experiences with the scheme and take a look at his unique cattle housing system...

Producer Profile: Highland Producer Robert
Thursday 11 December 2014
With the Christmas season in full flow, and our Highland Cattle scheme now in its seventh year, we went to visit Robert Phillip - who has supplied us with Highland Cattle since 2007 - to discuss his experiences with the breed and with rearing cattle for Dovecote Park...

David Gunner receives Royal Smithfield Club award
Wednesday 03 December 2014
We are delighted to announce that our joint Chief Executive David Gunner has been announced as the recipient of the Royal Smithfield Clubs Bicentennial Trophy, one of the most prestigious awards in the UK meat industry...

Dovecote Park wins Product Innovation Award
Thursday 13 November 2014
Dovecote Park is very proud to announce our recent success at the Waitrose Supplier Awards 2014 our Dry Age Hereford Range won the Product Innovation Award...

Producer Profile: Ron
Monday 20 October 2014
For the first of our Producer Profiles, we caught up with Ron, one of Dovecote Park's longest serving producers, who has supplied us with Aberdeen Angus, Commercial and Hereford cattle since 1998...

Dovecote Park Open Day 2014
Wednesday 24 September 2014
On Friday 19th September, around 80 of Dovecote Park’s producers were welcomed to our Stapleton plant for the Dovecote Park Producer Open Day. This was the first time we had attempted a factory tour on this scale, and we were delighted to receive such a high turnout...

Dovecote Park and Waitrose Producer Open Day 2014
Tuesday 05 August 2014
Tuesday 3rd June saw 130 of Dovecote Parks producers gather at Home Farm in Withcall, Louth for the Dovecote Park and Waitrose Producers Open Day, graciously hosted this year by the AW Smith and Sons family...  

Dovecote Park wins Meat Management Award
Saturday 07 June 2014
Dovecote Park were highly honoured to see our very own joint chief executive David Gunner take home the Meat Management Excellence Award at the 2014 Meat Management awards on June 4th...