Hundreds of chefs around the world – from Mexico to Morocco – have joined the Slow Food network to support small producers, defend biodiversity and promote the ‘good, clean and fair’ philosophy. The Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance brings these dedicated chefs together, whether they be from restaurant or hotel kitchens, to cafes and street food vendors, schools to hospitals. They join a formal global, active network, and are encouraged to meet, share knowledge, participate in events and cook together.
Chefs are particularly required to promote Slow Food Ark of Taste products, featuring them on menus, alongside other quality, seasonal products from small producers.
Scotland boasts a roll-call of superb Chefs’ Alliance members.
After spending almost a decade in Kosovo working for the United Nations and the EU, Ali had the opportunity to swap careers in 2013 when she returned home to her native Scotland and has now turned her passion for food and hospitality into a full-time Scottish adventure at “AliBob @ Cairn O’Mohr” in Errol, Perthshire.
After forays into Medicine, History and Politics Alison found her place with food whilst working at a café / deli during university summer holidays. After a course at Ballymaloe cookery School in Ireland, she stayed as café manager and chef for 13 years. Now Alison is at Colstoun Cookery School as resident chef, running various cookery programmes, events and courses in arguably the oldest house in Scotland.
Carina’s family came from Italy and settled in East Lothian to run fish and chip shops and cafes and introduced the locals to their first taste of Italian food. In 1996, Carina opened her first restaurant through her husband’s family business in Edinburgh. There are now three restaurants under her control. A multiple award-winner and cookbook author, Carina was the first female chef to be appointed to the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance.
Colin’s food ethos is virtually unchanged in 40 years. He’s always used fresh, local, wild and seasonal produce. Not by design really, more naivety and not knowing any better! Born into a restaurant family, one of Colin’s first memories is being savaged by a dead wild salmon that was lying by the kitchen sink. Today, he oversees three restaurants including the iconic Ubiquitous Chip.
With over 20 years’ experience, Colin has worked in France, Indonesia, Australia, UK and the Caribbean. He returned to Scotland in 2012.
He started Kilted Lobster in 2014 having identified a gap in the market for fresh Scottish sea food that would be accessible for everyone. The team now has their second restaurant Rib Aye’– focused on showcasing the best of Scottish meats. Amongst many other projects, every Tuesday they close the restaurant to the public so the chefs can create bespoke menus to promote their social enterprise values.
David began straight from school working for a family-owned hotel chain in Dumfries and Galloway. After 13 years, he left their employment and began working in a small Michelin-starred restaurant in South West Scotland and remained there for 13 years before moving to Glenapp Castle. David oversees the creation of the daily changing menus while working hard to source the very best local produce.
Emma began her career as a kitchen porter. After travelling the world for a year experiencing many new flavours and techniques from different cultures, she joined Contini at The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant. In 2014, Emma was tasked with opening Continis third restaurant Cannonball as Senior Sous chef. In 2016, Chef Emma became Head Chef of Cannonball. She also gives her time to Edinburgh college culinary students where she shares her experiences.
Chef-patron of l’escargot bleu, l’escargot blanc and bar à vin in Edinburgh, Fred Berkmiller started his hôtellerie apprenticeship in his hometown of Tours in the Loire Valley. He settled in Scotland in 1995, where he opened his first restaurant in 1998. Provenance, sourcing and sustainability have always defined Fred’s cooking. Every day he works with small-scale, local businesses, traditional producers and suppliers and has travelled from Dumfriesshire to Barra and Shetland to meet the people who catch, raise, grow and harvest the produce he cooks with.
Perthshire born and raised, Graeme is chef/patron in one of Scotland’s top-rated restaurants 63 Tay Street since 2007. ‘Honest, Local, Simple’ is the guiding ethos at 63. After his return from Terra Madre, Graeme helped school children fundraise and build a kitchen at a local primary school; growing fresh produce and developing cooking hearts and minds. It was in this garden vegetable patch that a ten-year- old pupil found a truffle, later examined by mycologists and found to be the first white truffle identified this this far north in the world.
Hector grew up on the Isle of Skye in a community that, at the time, was dominated by crofting and fishing. In that environment it was impossible not to have an appreciation of the food that was produced locally. Hector opened his restaurant, First Coast (named after a tiny village in Wester Ross) in 2003 with his brother Alan with a focus on creating fresh, tasty, homemade food in a relaxed environment. He sources ingredients as locally as possible, but cooks with an eye to flavours from around the world.
As a ‘Guga’ eating Nessman from a working croft from the North of the Isle of Lewis, John is now plying his trade in Aberdeen’s Merchant Quarter where he set up ‘Musa’ in a former Catholic Apostolic Chapel in 2006. With a passion for locally sourced produce and products, John is also a founding committee member of the Slow Food Aberdeen City and Shire Convivium, working with schools and the wider community. Musa is particularly proud of their whisky selection, in particular their own single cask independent bottlings.
Lesley Gillespie grew up in a family heavily immersed in the fishing industry and in an environment where food was fresh, seasonal and locally produced (often from the garden) and above all, home cooked. These principles shaped Lesley’s outlook on food and influenced her decision to train as a professional chef. With an interest in wild foods, and as part of her Masters Degree in Gastronomy at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University, Lesley focused her dissertation on tScottish venison and was employed to carry out research projects by the QMU Scottish Centre for Food Innovation. As a freelance chef, Lesley regularly provides cooking demonstrations for various Aberdeenshire Farmers’ Markets with local market produce. In addition Lesley also promotes the Slow Food ethos at community kitchens, pop-up events and private functions.
Marcin started out his career outside the hospitality industry, and it was after moving from Rzeszow in Poland to London, and being introduced to British cuisine in various hotels and restaurants, that he had started cooking and he hasn’t looked back. After moving to Scotland and working in a number of restaurants, he started working at The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant, where he worked for for nearly 6 years and under the guide of Executive Chef Suzanne O’Connor and owner Carina Contini, he made his way from CDP to senior head chef. What made him love and learn his job was the philosophy of the sourcing , seasonality and sustainability which is reflected on their monthly changing menus.
Matthias, alongside his wife, Roisin are the couple and chefs behind the stove, where they guarantee you to be as true as possible to their ethos: fresh-seasonal-local-sustainable-homemade. Having met in 2000 whilst working in Edinburgh, they chose to return to there for their first joint venture in 2009. This was not before they found themselves working their way around the world to hone their skills and extend their experience. Roisin is Irish with Scottish parents; Matthias is French with Spanish heritage. This mixture of heritages is the origins of the restaurant’s name: bia being Irish Gaelic for food, bistrot, the French way of spelling bistro. It sums up what they want to provide their customers: bistro atmosphere and good food at Bia Bistrot.
Neil’s career as a chef began in 1986 at Casa dei Cesari in Surrey before a longing to return to Scotland brought him to Perthshire’s Ballathie House Hotel. His passion for Scotland’s abundant home-grown and wild produce grew as he cooked his way around Scotland in the years that were to follow. Neil’s cooking style at Cafe St Honore is simple – no overcrowding of flavours or visuals on the palette or plate – with ingredients sourced, wherever possible, from local suppliers and always in season. His Saturday morning visits to the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market form part of his restaurant’s culture for regular communication with suppliers.
Peter’s career started in the mid nineties in rural Ireland working after school and weekends, then in 1997 went to catering college, then on to cook in the kitchens of renowned restaurants in the Netherlands, London, Sydney, Dublin and Glasgow. After a lot of planning, Peter opened The Gannet with business partner Ivan Stein to critical acclaim, gathering a reputation as one of Glasgow’s leading restaurants, with a firm focus on seasonal Scottish produce and strong links with local artisan producers and farmers. Accolades and awards include AA award Scottish Restaurant of the Year 2015/16, 3 AA Rosettes and a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
Roisin, alongside her husband, Matthias are the couple and chefs behind the stove at Bia Bistrot in Edinburgh, where they guarantee you to be as true as possible to their ethos: fresh-seasonal-local-sustainable-homemade. Having met in 2000 whilst working in Edinburgh, they chose to return to there for their first joint venture in 2009. This was not before they found themselves working their way around the world to hone their skills and extend their experience. Roisin has worked for Derry Clarke in Dublin, Emmanuel Stroobant in Singapore, Michael Deane & Niall Mc Kenna in Belfast, and Gordon Ramsay in New York.
Rory comes to Bridgeview Station with a wealth of experience having worked under Tony Heath (Lets Eat) and latter Willie Dean before moving on to 2AA Opus One Restaurant in Perth were he was head chef for 3 years, maintaining the restaurants 2AA accolades.
Rory’s motto is ‘think seasonal, eat Scottish,’ devising plates which let the flavour of the fantastic produce he sources really shine through. Rory oversees all menu activity at Bridgeview Station, a real perfectionist, spending countless days refining and fine tuning their a la carte dishes.
Suzanne is a keen supporter of using local seasonal produce and artisan suppliers. The restaurant has even started growing its own produce which they use in their menus.Having worked in the industry for almost 23 years, Suzanne is a well established chef. Her early career was spent working in prestigious restaurants across the world. It was in 2002 that she returned to the UK to settle in Edinburgh. Suzanne went on to join The Scottish Café & Restaurant in 2009 and after completing her City&Guilds teaching certificate, she now trains up budding chefs.
Tom prides himself on using seasonal foods when possible. The fish that are cooked each day depend on the fish that are caught that day. If he shoots one of the deer that roam his land, then that will make it onto the menu too. A self-taught chef, Tom was 13 years old when he moved to the Monachyle Mhor Hotel in Perthshire with his family. After finishing school, he left home to travel for ten years. He decided to become a chef after being inspired by two people: Nico Ladenis, and David Wilson of the Peat Inn in Fife. Since qualifying as a chef, he has returned to the Monachyle Mhor Hotel, which has won awards thick and fast with Tom as its head chef. Monachyle Mhor hotel and restaurant is set within its own 2,000 acre estate in Scotland’s first national park and overlooks Lochs Voil and Doine.
Rosario grew up in a large family In Naples. Life revolved around the kitchen table, and now with his own family in Edinburgh, he continues the tradition. Locanda de Gusti is a place to relax with friends and family experiencing authentic food made with love and passion. Rosario imports artisan products from Italy and combines them with the best local meat and seafood. All dishes are made from scratch every day, and Rosario makes the pasta fresh too, all in the tradition of Southern Italy.
Zoltan started his career at the young age of 14, influenced by his mother and grandparent’s cooking. Growing up in the country, where his family grew all their vegetables and fruits, and foraged mushrooms and wild berries, has been a huge inspiration on his every-day job. In the past 15 years, he has worked in some of Hungary and Finland’s most prestigious five-star hotels and restaurants. After those experiences, he decided to move to Scotland in 2005 and is now Executive Chef at the Blythswood Square Hotel, Glasgow.