Cosseted Christmas turkeys are winging their way to the tables of top restaurants thanks to North Wales delivery firm Delsol.
The free-range birds are raised to the sounds of classical music and fed a home-grown grain mix at Lord Newborough’s organic Rhug Estate near Corwen.
Every evening Rhug poultry manager Gareth Williams rounds up the turkeys and geese with his specially-trained collies to ensure they have a stress-free night asleep in their sheds in the Dee valley.
More than 1,000 of the top-of-the-range birds are destined to take centre stage for Christmas meals at exclusive restaurants in the UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and Macau.
Renowned London restaurants due to take delivery of Rhug Estate turkeys are theFour Seasons in Park Lane, Sally Clarke’s in Kensington and Shangri La at the Shard plus Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Cookery School at Oxford.
BBC Masterchef Professional judge Marcus Wareing is serving Rhug-raised geese to diners at his two-Michelin star Berkeley restaurant in Knightsbridge – and cooking a Dee Valley turkey for his family on Christmas Day.
Caernarfon-based Delsol has again been awarded the contract to ensure the Rhug Estate’s Christmas poultry reach the busy kitchens on time.
Lord Newborough, who has won a host of top awards for his pioneering approach to organic farming, said: “These birds are the Rolls Royce of Christmas turkeys – we get them at a day old in summer and raise them very carefully.
“We look after them extremely well, they are free range during the day and tucked up safely at night. We have, on occasion, played them classical music as chicks because it is important they have no stress in their lives.
“Our first turkeys went out at the end of November for Thanksgiving, which is increasingly popular, and we are now starting the run up to Christmas, with orders of poultry and all the trimmings going out several times a week
“However, December 21 and 22 are our busiest days when the vast majority of our orders go out to our loyal customers.
“Delsol has been wonderful, with outstanding service to us as a customer – to be honest, it was hell before we brought the company on board.
“Their team realise that it is of the utmost importance that our birds get to the customer exactly when required – no matter what the weather throws at them, such as rain, snow or ice.”
Lord Newborough, who will be sitting down on December 25 with his family to share a Rhug-raised roast turkey, added: “I am very happy that Delsol will be working with us again – their service is impeccable, which is essential when you look at who the birds are going to.
“I am proud that Marcus Wareing himself will be cooking one for his family on Christmas Day, and the birds are being flown to the very best restaurants around the world.”
The birds are a mix of Norfolk Brown and Hucknall Black, and are fed on a mix of home-grown barley and oats along with supplements. Once slaughtered and dressed, they are marketed as Dee Valley turkeys, alongside the estate’s Dee Valley geese, said poultry manager Gareth, who rears more than 7,000 birds throughout the year – many of which are sold through the estate’s farm shop.
He added: “The biggest of these turkeys will be the cock birds, which will weight around 14 kilos, and are perfect for commercial kitchens. Most families want something smaller though, so we have a variety of sizes.
“Raising the birds organically ensures they have months to grow and develop. That means the meat has a richer, stronger flavour, unlike many Christmas turkeys which are just fattened up indoors for a few weeks.
“We take every care with them, and with such prize birds we can’t afford to let any foxes or other predators near them. So I have trained three of my dogs to help me round the birds up at night – Ruby, three, Tim, 10, and Millie, who is 18 months old and just learning.
“They help me with these turkeys and our chickens and geese as well – it makes my life much easier!”
Pallets and parcels firm Delsol uses its partner delivery networks in the UK and around the world to ensure the door-to-door orders reach customers rapidly, said Delsol customer service manager Melissa Taylor.
She works closely with the Rhug Estate sales team to ensure the deliveries go out promptly, and uses an online tracking system to follow the progress of the orders.
She said: “I am delighted that Rhug Estate have again entrusted us to ensure the turkeys are delivered to their customers. Really, it’s a case of all hands on deck to make sure everything goes smoothly.
“We work with Rhug throughout the year to deliver orders from the estate and farm shop to customers around the world. I really enjoy getting the chance to come across to see the team at Rhug and see the birds and bison in the fields.”
Delsol delivers items around the UK and across the globe to retail, commercial, industrial and private addresses, for large companies through to small enterprises and personal customers.
The company was originally founded in Bethesda in 1999 by Tony Parry and Simon Walker. They opened a purpose-built delivery depot and warehouse facility in Caernarfon in 2003, and six years later launched a second depot in Sandycroft, Deeside, Flintshire.
The company now has 80-strong fleet of motorcycles, modern delivery vans and tail-lift equipped trucks, and employs more than 125 people.
More details about the company at www.deliverysolutions.uk.com, or call 01248 679933 or 01244 525090.