Almost five years on and Milly Hill Meat in NSW is still supplying its free-range lamb to The Star Gold Coast. We investigate why this farm to fork relationship works so well.
Free-range sustainable farming is at its very best in the New England tableland region of New South Wales where a charming family-owned farm supplies its produce to The Star Gold Coast’s popular restaurant, Garden Kitchen & Bar. Here, at Milly Hill, the animals are happy, well fed and well cared for.
“The animals are treated with absolute respect,” says Chris McLeay, Chef de Cuisine at Garden Kitchen & Bar, who’s been using the Milly Hill lamb shoulder on his menu for almost five years. The signature dish has become so popular that when it sells out, you can literally see diners’ jaws drop in utter dismay.
Not far from Armidale in country New South Wales you’ll find Milly Hill farm, which happens to also be the name of the property that owners Peter and Sally Strelitz bought 20 years ago and now live on with their four children. The couple established Milly Hill Meat in 2007 and today pride themselves on the premium quality of their lamb.
“We’ve always stuck to the fact that the quality of our produce will sell itself,” explains Peter. “We feed our lambs really well to ensure we get more tenderness, flavour and marbling through the meat.”
From farm to fork
Every time Chris and his expert team decide to put something new on their menu, they invest a lot of time and effort into researching the product and working directly with the farmers. It was no different when Chris first decided to put the infamous Milly Hill lamb shoulder on his menu.
What began as a local home-delivered ‘lamb-in-a-box’ business fast grew to an award-winning company specialising in quality cuts of meat including lamb, beef and pork. Milly Hill now also works with specialist local farmers who supply their premium lamb stock to the family-owned brand.
Chris receives three deliveries a week of the Milly Hill lamb shoulder and says it’s one of the most premium products on his menu. “It’s very consistent and super high quality,” he says.
Simple works best every time
So, why is the lamb shoulder on the Garden Kitchen & Bar menu so damn delicious? It’s all about keeping it simple and fuss-free, explains Chris.
“We cook the lamb shoulder with the bone in and keep it very simple – we don’t even marinate it, we just use salt, rosemary and olive oil,” say Chris. (Apparently, a bone-in product means the lamb retains its texture, so even though it’s cooked for so long, it will have a nice bite to it.)
“The lamb itself has such an incredible flavour and the shoulder has lots of lovely fat going through it, so when we cook it in the oven at 130 degrees for 4-5 hours, it creates a lovely crust on top of the lamb.”
Pete firmly agrees, simple wins every time. “The Milly Hill lamb shoulder is my favourite. I like to roll it in flour, season with pepper and salt and roast it in the oven on a very low heat for eight hours. I serve it with a light green salad of Greek yoghurt, feta cheese and freshly chopped mint.” Sounds like heaven to us – see you for dinner at Garden Kitchen & Bar at 7pm?