A leading Scottish chef is championing a new campaign to revive a traditional summertime ingredient.
Nick Rietz, chef and owner at Bilson Eleven in Glasgow, is putting nasturtiums back on the table this season, and has called for the reintroduction of this popular flower into menus across the country.
Planted between the months of March and May and typically in bloom over the summer, nasturtiums are renowned for their bright, edible flowers and leaves – though they are also a lesser-known source of vitamin C and are reputed to contain an herbal equivalent of penicillin, which helps the body fight off infections.
Nick, who opened Bilson Eleven in Dennistoun in 2016, has introduced nasturtiums into his kitchen with an aim of minimising food miles, boosting health and encouraging even the biggest wild food sceptics to turn their hand to foraging.
Nick said: ‘Nasturtiums have an amazing peppery kick and a fairly neutral taste profile, so they can be pretty versatile. We grow our own in containers in the kitchen and cut them fresh to order.
‘Provenance is crucial all year round, but even more so in the summertime when we have an abundance of fantastic ingredients right on our doorstep. We’ve worked nasturtiums into our cured Loch Etive sea trout dish, using the stems for the sauce and the leaves as a garnish. The flowers will start to appear soon and when the time comes, we’ll use those too.
‘Nasturtiums are becoming less and less visible in restaurants across Scotland, and I’d like to see that change by encouraging more chefs to give these wee wild flowers the appreciation they deserve. They’re so easy to use: you can throw a few leaves into a salad as you would rocket to give it a kick, or pickle the buds in vinegar and use them as a substitute for capers.’
Opened two-and-a-half years ago by chef patron Nick Rietz and his wife Liz, Bilson Eleven serves eclectic tasting menus in one of the oldest and most carefully renovated tenement buildings in Dennistoun.
Located in one of the oldest tenement buildings in Dennistoun, Bilson Eleven is the ultimate fine-dining experience in the east end of Glasgow.
Nick started in the restaurant industry at the age of 25 and has been pushing himself to learn, create and succeed in new ways ever since. He likes to describe his driven attitude as a constant game of playing catch up. Hard work and raw talent has made up for a late start and allowed him to come into the profession at a different angle and produce dishes with an alternative style.
Dishes from Bilson Eleven’s new summer menu are available to try now, with five-course menus available for £49 per head and eight-course menus for £69 per head.
For more information about Bilson Eleven, visit https://bilsoneleven.co.uk