"I've become obsessively seasonal," says Craig Grozier, chef-patron of Heart Buchanan deli-cafe in Glasgow.

“I’ve become obsessively seasonal,” says Craig Grozier, chef-patron of Heart Buchanan deli-cafe in Glasgow. “When I spot the first berry or flower of the season I can’t wait to pick it, take it to the kitchen and use it.” The 32 year old from Dingwall, who has worked in various Scottish and Australian kitchens, has become such a devotee of foraging for wild food he does it every day on his way to work and has a band of independent pickers who help.

“There’s a small window for certain herbs, so I pick as much as I can and puree and freeze them to make them last, though others are used up on the same day as they’re picked. They are free and fabulous.”

Grozier forages mostly around the banks of the River Kelvin, but says: “I purposefully go to open spaces and keep away from roads and paths. There are lots of places I know where you get certain things.” The exact location has to remain secret: the last thing any chef wants is to reveal his primary source. “You get to know and recognise them, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to go foraging without a sound knowledge of what’s edible and what’s not.”

On the day we meet, he and his sous chef James Forrest show off an impressive collection. There’s golden feverfew, which tastes like marjoram or oregano; cleaver or sticky willow, which tastes like young pea-shoots and is used as garnish; yarrow, which is similar to dill; yarrow flower; wild sorrel, citrussy with a lemon kick; and thistle flowers, which Grozier pares down to the heart, dips in flour and deep-fries, like tempura.

From rosehips, he has created a membrillo-type marmalade paste to serve with cheese and oatcakes. He uses sea aster, a succulent wild plant found by the seashore. Salty with an oyster-like back-kick it tastes good with fish. And best of all, he’s created Scottish capers, made with green elderberries marinaded in a vinegar solution.

“I want to show people this is a classical repertoire using ancient wild Scottish ingredients,” he says.

His new evening menu is a veritable showcase of mean, green, lean cuisine.

A starter of croquettes of Rannoch rabbit with braised ham, wild garlic, nettle and ham hough is a triumph of style and substance. The trick here is to pack in a piece of every element on the plate with each forkful, the better to appreciate the variety of intense flavours. The rabbit’s intense slow-cooked flavour, encased in deep-fried breadcrumbs, only fully makes itself felt when eaten with wild nettles -- which, when briefly blanched to take away their sting, taste just like spinach.

A salad of new season Perthshire asparagus, rocket, goat’s curd, confit lemons and yarrow looks pretty on the plate and tastes summery, with healthy citrus, grassy notes. Goat’s curd is all the rage with top London chefs but still rare in Scotland, and Grozier sourced it from Tamworth, Staffordshire. It’s incredibly light, clean and lemony and blends well with the citrussy greens on the plate and a dressing of yellow garlic-infused cold-pressed rapeseed oil from Mackintosh of Glendaveny near Peterhead.

But a dessert containing Grozier’s astonishing bright green Spruce Sorbet blows everything else away. Made with fresh spruce buds, which somehow taste of pineapple, and wild sorrel, the spruce sorbet pairs well with first-of-the-season Scottish raspberries and strawberries, white pine berries and syrupy fresh hibiscus flowes. The colours on the plate are strong and extremely pretty.

Grozier is perhaps under-appreciated as a pioneer of foraging, the culinary movement du jour in fashionable kitchens across Europe and the US. “We’re always finding new things. Devising ways to use them makes you more creative,” he says. “I’m not dressing things up but presenting them in a natural way. I hope people will lose their fear of eating wild plants and open their minds to using these ancient, healthy, ingredients in new ways.”


As part of the West End Festival, Craig Grozier will host a foraged food tasting event at Heart Buchanan, Byres Road, Glasgow, on June 23 at 7pm. Tickets cost £30 in advance from Heart Buchanan (www.heartbuchanan.co.uk, 0141 334 7626).