Local Food Heroes: Ifor Humphreys (Welsh Wagyu Beef)

Wagyu beef is renowned as the best in the world

The Japanese heritage of small scale farming and special care for their animals is the stuff of folklore. Tradition has it that Wagyu cattle are fed on beer and massaged daily to improve the quality of their meat!

It is little surprise, therefore, that discerning Michelin-starred chefs and diners alike see this premium produce as a holy grail worth scouring the globe for.

But for Welsh restauranteurs looking for quality wagyu beef with local provenance, the search does not need to be global. Our ‘local food hero’ has been producing outstanding Welsh Wagyu beef at the family farm in Montgomeryshire for 10 years.

Not more than a hill or two away from The High Street Delicatessen, Ifor Humphreys, a pioneering Montgomeryshire farmer, is breeding Wagyu/Aberdeen Angus cross cattle.

In the beautiful rolling hills of mid-Wales, new calves stick close to their mothers. They will spend their first summer on grass with their mothers before wintering indoors. A second summer of lush outdoor pastures provides the entrée for a final six months before slaughter on a high-ration diet of wheat, barley and oats.

By his own admission, the massage element of the myth that surrounds Japanese Wagyu (Kobe) has been downgraded by Ifor to regular friendly contact and a cheery greeting as he strolls amongst his animals. But local provenance is reinforced with regular ‘pints’ of beer sourced at Monty’s Brewery not far down the road from the farm.

Whatever it is the cattle are being fed, they are producing outstanding meat that regularly features in fine dining experiences, including those served up by Gareth Ward in the Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms at Ynyshir near Machynlleth, as well as local steak and tapas restaurant Mirrens, a short stroll away from The High Street Delicatessen in the heart of Newtown.

The Japanese tradition of Wagyu beef is proudly upheld in its homeland. But thanks to the imagination and ingenuity of our ‘local food hero’ Ifor Humphreys, the tradition has travelled well.

Raised in Wales, nurtured in the rolling Welsh hills of Montgomeryshire, relaxed with regular tipples of Welsh ale and elegantly prepared for Michelin star diners in the heart of Wales at Ynyshir, Wagyu has become the sought-after beef option on Welsh menus discerning diners.