It was an early Monday morning at Paddington Station when I met up with a group of bleary eyed Geronimo Head Chefs and the Group Development Chefs, Mark and Wayne. Our mission was ‘Project Pig’ – a trip to Somerset to choose 10 Rare Breed Mangalitza pigs for their ‘top to toe’ Summer Promotion, that focuses on using all the cuts of the animal.

We met up with Fred Price whose family have owned Gothelney Hall and its farm for the past three generations. The land back in 1026 was part of a settlement called Godelege (Good Meadow) and it is referenced in the Doomsday Book. The name subsequently became Gothelney in Anglo Saxon, meaning ‘Open Fields’. The land and farm has been grazed on for over a thousand years.

Mangalitza pigs were originally imported into the UK in 2006 having been rescued from near extinction in their native Hungary. Fred’s red-type breeding stock is a direct descendant from the original imported stock and is pedigree registered and assured by the British Pig Association. Taking up to four times longer to reach maturity than conventionally farmed pork, Fred’s pigs are reared in the surrounding woodland. Mangalitzas produce a marbled meat with radically different properties and the higher proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids make it well suited to curing.

Fred took us on a tour of his farm surrounded by the beautiful view of the Quantock Hills.
We met the pigs, which Fred has chosen carefully and the boys became acquainted with them and chose their favourite.

The day finished with lunch in Fred’s local and then the trip back to Paddington, with the rattle of a dozen snoring chefs bouncing around the carriage. We will be taking another trip to Somerset in early June to see how they are getting on before their final, one way, trip to London.

Watch this space for updates!