The Cornish Duck Company has won possibly the highest accolade in UK food production, scooping the title ‘Best Food Producer’ at the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2019.
The prestigious awards were presented this month in a star-studded ceremony at City Hall in Bristol, where Roger and Tanya Olver picked up their trophy from Chef and TV Presenter Matt Tebbutt.
Roger said: “We were so pleased just to be shortlisted and really proud to be there at the final ceremony representing Cornwall. Then they announced that we had won – I still can’t quite believe it. We were very emotional as we collected the award, literally speechless!”
Tanya added: “We’ve been luckily enough to win some great accolades over the years, but this is the absolute pinnacle for us – it’s something we will remember forever.”
The couple triumphed over 700 other entries nationwide, with chef Angela Hartnett – who headed the judging panel – proclaiming she was “totally blown away” by their whole business model and commitment to provenance.
Sheila Dillon, an award-winning journalist and Presenter of Radio 4’s The Food Programme, described their duck meat as “the best she’s ever had.”
Roger and Tanya began converting the family farm to a luxury estate for free-range ducks in 2006; the natural, stress-free environment is an ethical imperative for the couple and they firmly believe it contributes to the quality of the final product.
With early supporters of the project including high calibre chefs such as Nigel Tabb, Chris Eden and Michael Caines MBE, it was soon apparent that hard-working farmers Roger and Tanya had found a niche for a premium product they could be truly proud of.
They perfected their own breed of duck (the ‘Terras’ duck), which is bred for great flavour and resistance to disease, with strong legs to aid their development without compromising quality of life.
The natural diet enjoyed by the birds supports slow growth and ensures the optimum meat to fat ratio, while luxuries such as classical music, low-stock density and plenty of outdoor space encourage vitality and reduce stress.
Roger and Tanya put their success down to transparency and commitment to the very highest welfare and production standards; with their ducks incubated, hatched, reared and dispatched on the farm, food miles are zero and they have complete oversight over the whole process.
Tanya said: “It’s important that people continue to question where their meat comes from. We are always happy for people to come and visit the farm where they can see our specially-designed hatchery, cosy nursery, straw-bedded barns, paddling pools, holiday village and retirement plot.”
Cornish Duck is available at Truro Farmers Market every Saturday and Helston Farmers Market (first Saturday of each month), and can be purchased online at www.cornishduck.com; it can also be found on the menu at many top restaurants across the South West.