Chef cooking up a storm with the most local of ingredients

Chef and forager Gary Goldie at the Born in the Borders visitor centre
Chef and forager Gary Goldie at the Born in the Borders visitor centre

Gary Goldie is passionate about food, in particular the ingredients found on his doorstep, now the woods and hedgerows of the Borders.

Gary is head chef at the Born in the Borders visitor centre at Lanton, between Jedburgh and Denholm, having moved there from running garygoldie@thequeens in Oban.

Chef and forager Gary Goldie at the Born in the Borders visitor centre

Chef and forager Gary Goldie at the Born in the Borders visitor centre

The former Scottish Chef of the Year has found John Henderson’s venture to be the perfect fit for his style of cooking and ethos.

“It was like the job was looking for me when I read the advert,” said Gary, “a foraging chef, personality and front of house too.

“I like taking the meals out to people, it really works well and I can tell them I foraged the ingredients and where they came from, and that makes it immediately nicer for the customer.

“Knowing where the ingredients come from opens your mind, and it tastes better and makes it more enjoyable.”

Gary said the opportunity to do more foraging was largely behind his decision to give up his position at the hotel in Oban and make the move to the Borders. And the ingredients available locally means Gary doesn’t use things such as lemon or pepper in his cooking, instead using wild herbs and plants to help flavour the food – from pineappleweed to the wonderfully named sneezewort.

As well as the wealth of foraged ingredients that the Borders can provide, Gary has been discovering the exceptional quality of the local produce.

“Stichill Jerseys’ butter is the tastiest butter I have ever tasted in Britain,” said Gary, and I love that at Border Berries nothing is grown under polythene.”

Gary also praised the quality of the fish from DR Collin in Eyemouth and the flavour of the local lamb and beef, too.

In addition to the weekly foraged dinners, available every Saturday evening, Gary is looking forward to running foraging courses from Born in the Borders.

“It is really interesting to discover our natural resources, and the courses will keep me on my toes, will keep me motivated to learn more, because going out on walks you need to know what you are talking about, you need to be a step ahead of everyone!”

He added: “I’d also love to put foraged ingredients into the shop, like wild mushrooms.

“I’d love to be able to go in to a shop and buy quality mushrooms, like girolles picked fresh that day – how nice would that be!”

With more than 15 years of experience at the luxury Ardanaiseig Hotel in Argyll and spells at some of the world’s leading hotels in Denmark and Belgium, Gary is bringing the highest quality food to the Borders, but at a price accessible to all, and is aiming to make diners think a little bit differently about food, and what can be done with the flora all around us.

He said: “Everything I do has flips and twists – I don’t want to do just normal food, everything has got to have a reason or story behind it.

“I like food to be different, to be unique,” said Gary.

Born in the Borders visitor centre and cafe is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, and is open for foraged dinners every Saturday.