The Scottish delegation at the Lycée hôtelier in Dinard.

The Scottish delegation at the Lycée hôtelier in Dinard.

The Scottish delegation with Alain Grespier in La Mère Poulard’s kitchen.

The Scottish delegation with Alain Grespier in La Mère Poulard’s kitchen.

October 2011 – In Brittany

Invited by the Lycée hotelier in Dinard, on the occasion of the British Film Festival, a group of Scottish chefs and producers lead by Fred Berkmiller travelled to Brittany to showcase the best of Scotland’s food and cookery talents.

Along with Fred were Ishu Mehrotra, second chef at Ondine restaurant, Edinburgh, Cherie Mackenzie second chef of The Wee Restaurant, North Queen Ferry, Seonaid Forsyth, buyer from Campbell Prime Meats, and Dominic Smith, owner of Sunnyside Farm, Sanquhar.

The team of the Lycée Hotelier prepared a rich and busy 4 days programme for the Scottish group.  During their stay, they visited the Jean-Yves Bordier artisan butter factory, a traditional pig farm in Dinard, and an oyster farm in Cancale. They shared meals with local renowned chefs: Sylvain Guillemot at L’Auberge d’Acigné, Jean-Pierre Crouzil in his Plancouët restaurant, and Alain Grespier from La Mère Poulard, an authority in the Mont Saint-Michel. They also found the time to visit Dinard and its food market, the Mont Saint-Michel and Saint-Malo. Finally, they held two classes for the 2nd year students of the Lycée Hotelier in which they taught them how to prepare the best of Scottish products: haggis, scallops, pork pies, scones and sticky toffee puddings.

The Scottish chefs were also welcomed by Davy Aubry-Lachainaye, ‘chef de cuisine’ at the Grand Hotel Dinard, part of the Barrière group, for a tour of the premises followed by an extremely enjoyable dinner made exclusively with Breton products.

Finally, they teamed-up with the students of the catering school to prepare and serve a Scottish buffet for the closing gala dinner of the British Film Festival, using local Scottish produce such as venison, fresh scallops, hot and cold smoked salmon, Sthali black pudding, haggis and nips flambéed with whisky, selection of local cheese and oatcakes…which had all been shipped over to France prior to the exchange.

A Breton 'cotriade' with Scottish seafood served at L'Escargot bleu.

A Breton 'cotriade' with Scottish seafood served at L'Escargot bleu.

May 2011 – In Scotland

The Budding Chefs exchange programme was launched in May 2011 by the Institut français d’Ecosse and Fred Berkmiller.

Nine chefs-to-be students from the Lycée hotelier (catering school) in Dinard (Brittany) came to Scotland with 3 of their teachers to explore the Scottish larder and meet the Scottish chefs and producers. The Bretons met vegetable producers, cattle farmers, wholesale fishmongers, and had the opportunity to discover the wide variety of products Scotland has to offer, from meat and fish to vegetables and dairy.

These days of exploration also gave them the chance to meet Tom Kitchin (The Kitchin) and Dominic Jack (Castle Terrace), two Edinburgh-based chefs who have always been very keen on using these Scottish fresh ingredients in their menus.

Davy Aubry-Lachainaye, chef of the Grand Hotel Barrière Dinard, also took part in the journey through Scotland and accompanied the students in their exploration. He shared with them his experience of running a 5-star hotel’s restaurant and went back to France with a new knowledge of the treasures Scotland can provide.

The end of the week was devoted to public events as the students rendered an account of their experience. On 13 and 14 May 2011 the Breton students were in charge of the kitchens of L’Escargot Bleu and L’Escargot Blanc under the control of their teachers, serving Breton dishes using the best of Scotland to over 700 customers.