A special “Field to Fork” learning journey featuring the use of pheasant reared by SRUC Elmwood Campus in Cupar has been held for chefs from in and around St Andrews.
The event was a collaboration between Savour St Andrews, SRUC Elmwood Hospitality and Scotland’s Natural Larder, a partnership between the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
It featured a full day of activity starting in countryside pheasant pen, a practical session about handling and preparing the birds, and demonstration and hands-on cooking sessions.
One of the results was a delicious pheasant starter prepared by Michelin-starred chef Geoffrey Smeddle of the Peat Inn Restaurant with Rooms, who mentored the Elmwood professional cookery students.
They assisted as the dish was cooked and served served last week during the St Andrew’s Day Dinner organized by Savour St Andrews at the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa,
During the learning journey chefs from the Old Course Hotel, The Adamson, St Andrews Links, Playfair’s Restaurant and Hazelnuts Catering were joined by some Elmwood students, SRUC and BASC gamekeepers, and the chef/lecturers team from the college.
The day, led by SRUC’s Vicki Munro hospitality programme leader, began at Cantyhall Estate near Cupar, moved to Elmwood Farm, and finished in the college training kitchens and Themes Restaurant.
Gamekeeping staff Jim Goodlad and Paul Swan, along with Donald Muir from BASC, gave participants an insight into game bird rearing, releasing and husbandry, transportation, storage, and hygiene requirements, and dressing the birds.
After a demonstration of a pheasant dish by chef/lecturers Wullie Balfour and Mark Barker, and a talk about the utilization of small game, the chefs were able to use the extra knowledge they had gained to create their own individual game dishes.
Savour St Andrews co-ordinator Viv Collie said that the day had been a real success, and the chefs had been able to get a real feel of game rearing, husbandry and cookery.
“All of the chefs were asking questions during the morning and practical sessions, and the gamekeepers were absolutely fascinated by the cooking skills and different dishes that came out of the kitchen.
“Vicki and her team provided a perfect balance throughout the day, with Wullie and Mark passing on the deep knowledge that they have built up over many years in the industry”.
Donald Muir, or BSAC Scotland, said that game is in season and widely available across Scotland. It is a lean and free range meat that tastes delicious.
“Knowing how to cook and prepare game properly is essential to give the public the best taste experience.
“For the chefs learning about the work going into producing these birds helps them understand and value this amazing product.”