A Fife farmer who made Scotland’s first buffalo mozzarella with chef Gordon Ramsay has now opened a dedicated cheese factory.
It’s been a long journey to become Scotland’s first buffalo mozzarella producer for Kirkcaldy farmer Steve Mitchell.
He started The Buffalo Farm in 2005 with a small herd of water buffalo, selling meat and burgers at farmers markets.
Life changed when two years later, three-star Michelin chef Gordon Ramsay visited to film an episode of The F Word.
Together they made a trial batch of buffalo mozzarella which Gordon declared delicious.
The star chef was so impressed he even joked that he wanted a percentage of the venture.
14 year journey to mozzarella production
However, Steve describes the following years as a “roller coaster”.
From the highs of the national TV coverage, there was also a low of being attacked by his herd in 2012.
He was lucky to be alive after turning his back on the herd.
Just when it seemed everything was in place to start making mozzarella, an investor pulled out at the last minute.
At his lowest moment, Steve thought he’d have to sell a large part of his 400-strong herd.
But still he didn’t give up on his dream. Two years ago Steve launched a crowdfunding campaign, which raised £800,000 from more than 600 investors.
After that, planning permission for the £1.4 million custom-built factory was secured in February.
Now, 14 years after Gordon Ramsay’s visit, production has started.
Smell and taste the freshness
“We’re now embarking on the most exciting and the most terrifying part of the project,” Steve says.
“We now have to live up to the targets and expectations we have set ourselves and discover whether the market enjoys our Scottish buffalo mozzarella as much as we do.
“Provenance is so important in food. Our cheese is produced in a matter of hours, from milking to finished balls of mozzarella.
“As a result, you can really smell and taste the freshness compared to one from an overseas producer.
“I am absolutely thrilled at the quality.”
The investment includes a milking parlour for 100 buffalo and sheds to house the buffalo during the winter months.
The Fife operation can make around 500,000 kilograms of buffalo mozzarella a year.
Future of Fife buffalo mozzarella venture
The Buffalo Farm has notes of interest from retailers, restaurants and wholesalers.
Steve is working with his team to support the continued growth of the product without compromising the quality.
“I would much rather produce small batches of world-class cheese than compromise what we have,” he adds.
“We’ve the opportunity to create something quite special and the team is determined to make Scotland a force to be reckoned with in the world buffalo mozzarella market.”
The finished product gets the thumbs up from celebrity chef Nick Nairn.
He says: “It’s been a long wait but it was worth it.”