Meet the Judges: Scottish Bread Championships

Some of Scotland’s most respected chefs and foremost artisan food campaigners and experts will be judging this June’s Scottish Bread Championships, each bringing their own experience and field of expertise and interest to the table.

Meet the judging panel below: find out why they’re looking forward to being involved in the Championships, and why they believe in Real Bread. Then enter the competition here by May 19th, impress them with your breadmaking and you’ll have the chance to meet our panel in person at the Royal Highland Show this summer.

Fred Berkmiller

Fred Berkmiller is Chef Patron of l’escargot bleu, l’escargot blanc and Bar à Vin in Edinburgh. Both l’escargot restaurants have been awarded AA rosettes, have won Newcomer of the Year in The List’s Eating and Drinking Guide, featured in the annual Michelin Guide and have been named among Pete Irvine’s top five restaurants in Scotland. Fred himself was awarded The Scotsman’s Food Pioneer title at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016, was a CIS Chef of the Year 2016 finalist, and is a Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance member. His commitment to artisanal, low-waste practices is demonstrated throughout his menus, in his kitchens and in his tireless promotion of sustainable Scottish food.

Why did you want to be involved in the Scottish Bread Championships?
‘The Scottish food and drink industry has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, diversifying from the traditional whisky and seafood to incorporate much more into its larder, establishing it as a land of food and drink. Bread is a much-loved addition to any hearty Scottish dish, so it’s great to be able to celebrate all of our skilled bakers with this competition and give them the recognition they deserve.

‘I’m thrilled to be a judge for the Scottish Bread Championships. Nothing beats a freshly baked loaf, so I’m excited to see what the participants bring to the table.’

Pam Brunton

Inver Restaurant may only have opened in 2015, but chef and co-owner Pam now heads up one of Scotland and the UK’s most respected kitchens. With time at Noma on her CV, a Scandinavian approach to seasonality and localism infuses the restaurant’s menu and beyond: sourdough bread, pickles, ice cream, ferments, pasta and charcuterie are all made in house. Butter is churned, carcasses are butchered. Set on the shores of Loch Fyne, Inver was named AA Scottish Restaurant of the Year 2016, and Scotland & Northern Ireland regional winner in The Sunday Times top 100 restaurants 2017.

Gerry Danby

Gerry is the founder and director of Artisan Food Law, an online resource to help artisan and small-scale independent food businesses navigate the complexities of food law. Gerry’s support, advocacy and guidance has been informed by more than 22 years working as a lawyer in the public sector, including 10 years as chief legal officer of one of the largest metropolitan authorities in England. His work is underpinned by a belief that our approach to food must be informed by a ‘from farm to plate’ understanding, and a recognition that a sustainable food system does not, and cannot, exist in a factory. The man to whom food experts turn for legal guidance was a director of Slow Food International and chair of Slow Food UK with whom he continues to work. Gerry also teaches food law to post-graduate masters degree students – and anyone else interested.

Why did you want to be involved in the Scottish Bread Championships?
‘Good nutritious bread is fundamental to our diet and the fact we all do not have ready access to it is a source of sadness. I am an ardent supporter of the Real Bread Campaign so can see the Scottish Bread Championships will put real bread on the map, provide an opportunity to celebrate all the truly great bakers out there who make a real difference and recognise the best. All provide us with real bread, real pleasure and a better diet.’

Neil Forbes

Chef/director of Edinburgh’s Cafe St Honoré, Neil is known for his commitment to sustainable, seasonal Scottish ingredients, and for his kitchen’s daily sourdough. Neil is a co-presenter on BBC Radio Scotland’s weekly Kitchen Café programme, writes a monthly recipe column for The Scotsman magazine, and has become one of Scotland’s most recognizable chefs after featuring on a number of TV and radio shows promoting the best of Scottish produce. He was named CIS Chef of the Year 2014; the Scottish Restaurant Association’s Scottish Chef of the Year 2011, and is an active Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance member.

Why did you want to be involved in the Scottish Bread Championships?
‘I’m delighted to judge the first Scottish Bread Championships. At Cafe St Honoré we bake fresh bread every day, and I encourage others to do the same. It’s astonishing to think that bread is basically flour, water, salt and time! Bread has been such an important part of our diets for centuries so it’s wonderful to see so many new artisan bakeries opening and a return to real bread making.

‘I’m very much looking forward to tasting some classic loaves. I’ll be looking for good textures, crumbs, crusts and hopefully some new ideas too. It’s going to be an exciting day!’

Dr Jennie Macdiarmid

Jennie is a senior research fellow at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen. Through her research she works to advance understanding of dietary behaviours and how to improve what we eat to achieve health and environmentally sustainable diets. Jennie’s current research focuses on issues of food security, exploring the environmental, social and nutritional implications of dietary choices and how to balance these. Previous research has concentrated on community based nutrition related policies and interventions. Jennie is a member of the Daniel & Nicole Carasso Foundation International Scientific Committee, the BBSRC Global Food Security Scientific Advisory Group and has contributed to reports for the FSA and WWF.

Why did you want to be involved in the Scottish Bread Championships?
‘Bread can contribute an important element to a health and environmentally sustainable diet, as well as being a great, tasty food to eat. I believe that the Scottish Bread Championships provides an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the best quality breads that are being produced and enjoyed in Scotland.’

Chris Young

Chris has been Real Bread Campaign coordinator since 2009, campaigning for recognition of the value and definition of Real Bread; championing local, independent bakeries that make additive-free loaves, and encouraging people to bake their own Real Bread at home. Chris co-wrote Knead to Know, an introductory guide to success in baking Real Bread for local community, and curated and contributed to the recipe collection Slow Dough: Real Bread. He organises the annual Real Bread Week and Sourdough September, and is also editor of London Food Link’s ethical eating magazine The Jellied Eel, published by the charity Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming.

Why did you want to be involved in the Scottish Bread Championships?
‘It’s great to be involved in what I’m pretty sure is the first ever national competition dedicated to celebrating Real Bread and the bakers who make it.’

Andrew Whitley

Andrew Whitley is credited with leading the UK’s revival in artisan baking. He first gained recognition in the 1970s as founder of the organic Village Bakery in Cumbria, where he used English wheat and wood-fired ovens. In 2002 he took an MSc in Food Policy at City University London, and since 2010 has been based on five acres of organic agroforestry at Macbiehill in the Scottish Borders. He grows and evaluates a wide range of cereals, teaches real bread making, and provides advice to beginners, professional bakers, cooks and chefs, community groups and those planning to start a bakery business.

Andrew is director of Bread Matters Ltd, and in 2012 he and his wife Veronica Burke began Scotland The Bread, a participatory research project linking leading researchers, plant breeders, farmers, millers, bakers, nutritionists and citizens, which was scaled up into a member-owned  Community Benefit Society in 2016. It has the dual purposes of research into the most nutrient dense grains that thrive on low-input, Scottish farms and the skilling up of community-scale, artisan bakers to stimulate a market for nourishing, locally-grown wheat.

In 2008 Andrew co-founded the UK’s Real Bread Campaign, and in 2011 received the Special Judges’ Award at the BBC Food & Farming Awards for ‘changing the way we think about bread’. He is the author of Bread Matters (Fourth Estate, 2006/2009) and of DO Sourdough (2014), and is a former vice-chair of the Soil Association.

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