Borders College (Scotland) hosted the final awards dinner of the Field to Fork 2017 competition recently where Borders College’s own student finalists, Billy Brogan (from Coldstream) and Finlay Knox (from Kelso), took home the coveted first prize.

This ‘Celebration of Game’ awards dinner was ably hosted by Lorna Robertson, MasterChef 2017 finalist, who announced Billy Brogan (NVQ 2 Professional Cookery student) and Finlay Knox (HNC Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management student) as the overall winners.

Having worked with game as an ingredient throughout MasterChef and using it in her own cooking, Lorna is familiar with what makes a great game dish and also held a certain empathy for the finalists following her own experience of being judged in a cooking contest, saying: “I just wanted everyone to do well!”

The evening kicked off in style with a canapés and drinks reception where Pete Moore (Scottish Natural Heritage) and Nicolle Hamilton (BASC) introduced the Field to Fork project to guests, highlighting the importance of game as well as sharing some images of students from each participating College working on their skills and dishes throughout the competition.

12 students from Catering and Gamekeeping courses at Borders College, SRUC Elmwood and North Highland College UHI partnered up for the competition, working in pairs over the preceding months to learn more about each other’s industry before producing and serving dishes of their own design, in celebration of game and fresh local produce.

This year, for the first time, each finalist’s starter was served in a ‘trio of finalists’ dish, including suet crust game pie, grouse and loin of rabbit.  Tables were dressed with creative reference to Gamekeeping with polished shotgun handles holding the table numbers, adorned by upcycled used shotgun cartridges fashioned into decorative lights – all created by Gamekeeping Programme Leader Andy Winwood.  Recipe cards were also produced in collaboration with Borders College Graphic Design students.

Lorna’s fellow judges, Nicolle Hamilton, Pete Moore and Catriona Frankitti (Innes Ross) all agreed that the standard of work from each College was great across all aspects, not just the food presented.  Nicolle commented that the students’ development and overall confidence had been given a real boost, adding:

“The students have supported and rooted for each other throughout the final.  They have stepped quality up a level again this year and their enthusiasm has been brilliant to see.”

Pete explained that 2017 marks the penultimate year of the Field to Fork project, linking the Year of Food and Drink (2015) with the Year of Young People (2018) and culminating in a special dinner to be held at the Scottish Parliament in 2018.

Summing up the ethos of Field to Fork, Catriona said:

“This competition has encouraged real inter-disciplinary working between curricular departments including Gamekeeping, Catering and Horticulture, and the presentations delivered by the Borders College students were so good they could be lifted straight into an educational setting.”

When asked how it felt to be the winners of Field to Fork 2017, Billy said:

“Winning hasn’t really sunk in yet but we’re both really pleased.”

Finlay added:

“It’s been great to learn about both sides of Catering and Gamekeeping.”

Congratulations to all involved, particularly the Borders College winners, Billy and Finlay, and their fellow finalists Catherine Harper and Jonathon Gray (SRUC Elmwood) and Nathan Galloway and Megan Rowland (North Highland College UHI).

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