UK chefs enjoy Parisian visit

Paris might have been sleeping, but for 50 young chefs from across the UK, the day was only just getting under way.

As the sun rose over Rungis Market, the group of chefs found themselves facing hall after cavernous hall, filled with a wide variety of exciting and interesting produce, from beef carcases stretching almost as far as the eye could see, to over-flowing displays of fruit and vegetables, or exotic species of fish and seafood.

From the bars of Paris to the centre of the city's food trade, the chefs had been whisked on a whirlwind 24-hour tour, designed to give them a flavour and feel of one of the world's largest wholesale markets.

The trip was organised jointly by game and specialist food supplier Braehead Foods and wine merchant Gourmet Classic, who wanted to offer the chefs the chance to learn about where some of their produce comes from, with a 3am tour of the market.

Craig Stevenson, managing director of Braehead Foods, said: "Rungis Market is the world refe-rence for wholesale produce. We work with chefs who are passionate about their produce and where it comes from, so we wanted them to see this incredible phenomenon."

Angus L'Anson, of Gourmet Classic, said: "The idea was to take the chefs out there and open their eyes to what Rungis has to offer. The feedback we've got from the trip has been brilliant and the chefs have come back to the UK and are starting to ask questions of their suppliers, which is great."

Stevenson said the aim was to put something back into the industry and give younger chefs an experience that would inspire them.

L'Anson added: "Going out to Rungis will inspire people to put quality, variety and choice back at the top of their lists, rather than arguing over a few pence off the price."

Rungis Market is spread over 232 hectares and is the major centre of commerce for chefs and food retailers from all over the world, not just France. The market claims that, every day, produce from its stalls will supply more than 18m consumers, 12m of those from France, around one-fifth of the country's population.

Meat alone takes up four pavilions on the site and trades around 350,000t of meat and poultry products each year. The market provides 35% of all meat consumed in Paris alone.

Both Stevenson and L'Anson said they hoped the trip would be the first of many, and are now considering running other similar events. "We're considering repeating it to give young chefs a chance to see this fantastic market first-hand," said L'Anson.