Scotland’s larder of fresh, quality ingredients has become the envy of the culinary world. But it isn't just down to luck and geography … it takes expertise and hard graft to make the magic happen. Trump Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort recently hosted a culinary event, arranged by Beattie PR, showcasing some of the fantastic Scottish suppliers they use. Here we profile some of the standout suppliers from a wonderful evening at the Scottish Hotel of the Year 2018: 

Gigha Halibut

HeraldScotland: 1906 Trump Turnberry

Pan Seared Gigha Halibut, 1906 Restaurant at Trump Turnberry

While it is not unusual for people to devote themselves entirely to creating produce of the highest quality, it is certainly rare to find someone working to help save an endangered animal in the process.

Alastair Barge, the founder of Gigha Halibut is one such food hero. Having worked in salmon production for years he started thinking about creating something for the prime market.

“He looked at turbot, and he looked at lobster, but with halibut being endangered, that was the final clincher for him,” explains Amanda Anderson of Gigha Halibut.

It was not long before Alastair realised he had taken on a considerable challenge. Halibut do not reach breeding maturity until the age of eight, and they have a much longer gestation period than other fish. So this was never going to be an overnight money maker. Many other producers have tried and given up altogether.

“When Alastair started out there were around 250 halibut producers in the world, there are fewer than 10 now because it is so hard,” explains Amanda.

His farm, on the beautiful Hebridean island of Gigha and the hatchery in Otter Ferry, Argyll, has become something of a world centre for aquaculture study attracting students from all corners of the globe. 

But that is not the reason for including Gigha Halibut in this list … it is because of the effect that all these efforts have on the taste. Amanda explains: “Alastair keeps the tank numbers low compared to other farms where the stock density in the tanks is considerably more - our fish get to move about more so they have firmer, meatier flesh.”

By creating a prime product - which also includes smoked as well as fresh halibut - and helping to educate chefs about the effects on natural stocks of buying wild halibut, Alastair's efforts are helping to ensure the species has a future. And it's one that we can all enjoy.

www.gighahalibut.co.uk

Look out for Gigha Halibut at: Gamba, Glasgow; 1906 at Trump Turnberry, Ayrshire, Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh.

Season’s best from Caldwell’s Vegetables

HeraldScotland: Caldwell beetroot

Caldwell Beetroot

The rich fertile lands lining South Ayrshire’s coast has been farmed on for centuries. But when Gordon Caldwell arrived at Dowhill Farm 10 years ago he decided to try to focus on growing only the finest produce destined for chefs’ tables.

“I am not really that motivated to have hundreds of acres and supply supermarkets, that doesn’t really float my boat. I like to get to know people and have long term relationships with customers.”

Originally from Mauchline in Ayrshire, Gordon served his time across the UK and Europe in specialist farms growing everything from brussels to baby rocket. But in his current location north of Girvan he believes he has ideal growing conditions for certain vegetables.

“We are definitely warmer here and we are frost-protected than even a mile or two inland,” explains Gordon. “That helps in spring and autumn when you are trying the push the seasons. Even in November I can still grow all the cauliflower and broccoli varieties, and it’s all outside.”

Among his unusual crops are Romanesco and purple cauliflowers, golden, candy stripe and baby beetroot – which are particularly popular in restaurants.

“Romanesco and purple cauliflower are never going to take over from white but it is interesting and there is a demand for it,” explains Gordon. 

“It’s nice when a chef moves from one place to the next and he wants to continue using your produce … it is a vote of confidence in the quality of what you do.”

Look out for Gordon’s seasonal produce at: Dowhill Farm Shop; Silverburn shopping centre, Glasgow; 1906 at Trump Turnberry, Ayrshire.

Tobermory smoked trout

HeraldScotland: Tobermory smoked trout

Some things in life are worth waiting for …  and smoked trout from Tobermory is certainly one of those things.

Following a recipe developed more than 50 years ago by her grandfather, Sally Swinbanks on the Isle of Mull has created something truly special.

Using only Scottish trout, the fish are cold smoked in a traditional island way.

The precise combination of salt, herb and spices allows the light smoke to achieve a uniquely delicate flavour and texture. Each fish is selected and handled very carefully throughout the smoking process and the result is a truly prime product.

“The taste is the one thing that means the most to us. Customers love it because it’s different from anything else,” says Sally.

She admits that living and working on an island is a constant challenge, but adds: “We wouldn't have it any other way.

“Every review, big or small is a reward for me. Whether it’s our customer service, the taste of our products or our comments on how beautiful our shop is, they all make it worthwhile.” 

www.tobermoryfish.co.uk

Look out for Tobermory smoked trout at: 1906 at Trump Turnberry, Ayrshire.

Sapori Truffles

HeraldScotland: Sapori Black Truffle

Italian truffle importer Gianpaolo La Greca has one of the best jobs in the culinary world. Not only does he source one of the most sought-after ingredients on the planet, he also gets to enjoy all the “intoxicating” effects of his truffles.

“When the truffles come into season you can smell them through the box,” he says. “The aroma is intense, it releases pheromones and it is almost erotic. Your head starts to spin a bit. It is intoxicating.” 

Gianpaolo has a network of Italian suppliers who gather truffles in the traditional way - using dogs to locate them underground by their scent. This enables Gianpaolo to source a fresh truffle from Italy and deliver it anywhere in the UK or Europe within 48 hours.

Costing around £6,000 per kilo, just a sliver dropped into a hot risotto or tagliatelle will result in an “explosion of flavour”. And while many ingredients come in and out of fashion as tastes change, truffles are always in favour. 

And at this time of year Gianpaolo is kept particularly busy. He says: “There is always a very strong demand especially in the lead up to Christmas and New Year. People see it as a treat, as something as very, very special and very, very rare.”

www.saporitruffles.co.uk

Look out for Sapori Truffles at: Eusebi Deli, Glasgow; The Aizle, Edinburgh; 1906 at Trump Turnberry, Ayrshire.