Indeed, you’ve probably enjoyed many of his dishes you’ve purchased in leading stores over the past decade.
Andrew, who has been Group Head Development Chef at Dunbia, the multi-awarding winning UK meat processing business, which has its headquarters at Dungannon in Co Tyrone, was recently named ‘Best Own Label Development Chef 2019’ by The Grocer, the retail industry’s most influential weekly publication.
The Grocer judges, in their citation for the prestigious award, said: “Andrew doesn’t have an easy job. Each day is a tightrope when you’re juggling the expectations and demands of several high-profile retailers, but Andrew Brondon does it with style. Andrew has over 20 years of culinary experiences and uses a collaborative approach to bring over 100 new concepts to customers each year.”
That’s quite an endorsement of a very skilled and talented chef. The judges praised Andrew’s ability, in particular, to “bring something new to the table each time” as well as his record of careful relationship management: it takes immense skill to regularly pitch new products to retailers”. And this is what he has been doing very successfully for the past 12 years for Dunbia and is looking forward to continuing to do in 2020 and beyond.
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Andrew is justifiably proud of the Grocer’s praise for his work and is also quick to acknowledge the contribution of the other unsung heroes in his team.
“This award has provided an opportunity to shine a spotlight on our new product development team at Dunbia, which I am proud to lead and to share this award with,” he says. “Development chefs are the industry innovators, working tirelessly behind the scenes to develop exciting on-trend applications and using an extensive breadth of technologies, whilst maximising the value for retailers. The Grocer award gives the whole team here at Dunbia the recognition they genuinely deserve.”
Andrew joined Dunbia as Group Head Development Chef in 2007 from an ethic cuisine business in Britain and currently splits his time between Dungannon and the
meat processor’s operations in Britain.
Established in 1976, Dunbia began as a family butchery business in Moygashel and was developed into a £500 million plus turnover national industry leader by founding brothers Jack and Jim Dobson before they agreed a strategic alliance with Waterford-based Dawn Meats, in 2017. The Dobson brothers developed the
business into one of Europe’s most successful and creative enterprises in meat processing especially premium beef. It continues to play a pivotal role in the vibrant local food industry. Andrew and his team works very closely with all major UK supermarkets.
He’s worked with them last year to create popular dishes such as beef stroganoff, a slow cooked diced beef in a stroganoff sauce, with portobello mushrooms and onion wedges; duck à l’orange, slow cooked half duck with a burnt orange and sage rub and an orange and red wine sauce and lamb shoulder with honey and rosemary, also slow cooked lamb shoulder marinated in herbs and spices with a redcurrant, rosemary and honey glaze. His role includes travelling the globe on “trend spotting missions, to discover fresh flavour insights and new fusion flavours”.
He explained: “Once these key food trends have been discovered, I will identify and evaluate why a particular flavour combination works. I take these concepts and ingredients and develop on-trend recipes, formulas and products that best showcase these flavour combinations.”
Taking a new product idea from development kitchen to commercial production can take up to six months.
“We work on comprehensive briefs for numerous retail partners, with respect to specific product requirements and developing new concepts into viable market ready products. Timescales vary depending upon the product and customer specifications,” he added.
He prefers working with beef, of course, because “it can be enjoyed in so many different and tasty ways. It is versatile, nutritious and naturally contains essential nutrients that help keep the body healthy and strong”, he continues.
What’s his favourite meal, one he enjoys making at home? “It’s completely dependent on my mood and how I feel at the time. However, you cannot go far wrong if the meal includes a perfectly cooked piece of meat, some cheese and if there is some truffle oil included too, then I am a very happy man.
“When I am at home with my family I enjoy cooking lasagne, as this is a versatile meal which everyone can enjoy. I’ll be cooking turkey and beef for Christmas this year.”