A leading chef-patron is inviting Scottish Field readers to discover the secrets of his private garden this year.
Fred Berkmiller, from l’escargot bleu, l’escargot blanc and Bar a Vin, will be taking us into his garden throughout the year in a series of videos revealing just what goes into these leading restaurants.
Fred started his hôtellerie apprenticeship in his hometown of Tours in the Loire Valley. He settled in Scotland in1995, and went on to open his first restaurant in the Grassmarket in 1998, before opening a second restaurant in 2004 in Edinburgh’s west end – what is now l’escargot blanc.
In 2008 he began renovating an old clockmaker’s shop on Broughton Street with his wife Betty that opened as l’escargot bleu in January 2009. In 2015, Fred and his team renovated the area beneath l’escargot blanc to create l’escargot bar à vin, a place to indulge in charcuterie, cheese and wine, carefully sourced from artisans in Scotland and France.
Provenance, sourcing and sustainability have always defined Fred’s cooking since he started his journey as a chef.
Every day he works with small-scale, local businesses, traditional producers and suppliers, travelling from Dumfriesshire to Barra and Shetland to meet the people who catch, raise, grow and harvest the produce he cooks with.
Fred’s purchasing habits for Scottish ingredients are sustainable, economical and environmentally friendly. Instead of buying a prime steak cut, he buys the whole animal and ensures every part of it is used and nothing goes to waste.
This lowers the cost price, as well as supporting the Scottish economy and reducing food miles. Purchasing whole animal carcasses also helps Fred to teach his chefs about his nose-to-tail ethos, how to butcher an animal correctly and how to avoid any waste.
Since 2017 Fred has been growing fresh salad leaves, herbs and vegetables at Newton Walled Garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh. He describes it as one of the most satisfying things he has done as a chef. By growing at Newton, Fred is able to supply his restaurants with better quality produce than he can source elsewhere.
Fred has a genuine passion the Scottish larder and won the ‘Food Pioneer’ award at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards in 2016. In 2017 he was named ‘Regional Ambassador’ at the Scottish Thistle Awards. He is an Ambassador for Scotland Food & Drink, and in 2014 was given the ‘Special Award’ at The List’s annual Eating & Drinking Guide Awards.
His restaurants won the ‘Scottish Sourcing’ award at the 2017 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards and have been included in The List’s ‘Hitlist’ every year since 2008.
L’escargot bleu, 56 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3SA. Tel: 0131 557 1600. www.lescargotbleu.co.uk
L’escargot blanc, 17 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4QW. Tel: 0131 226 1890. www.lescargotblanc.co.uk
L’escargot blanc wine bar, 17 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4QW. Tel: 0131 226 1890. www.winebaredinburgh.co.uk