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Burns Night with Ballintaggart Farm's Chris Rowley

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Burns Night with Ballintaggart Farm's Chris Rowley

Chris Rowley left behind a career in banking to enrol on the Leiths Diploma. The risk paid off. He was Student of the Year 2015, and a year later opened Ballintaggart Farm and Cook School in Perthshire. We caught up with him ahead of Burns Night, the annual celebration of Scottish poet Robert Burns, on January 25th.

Check out Chris' Vegan Haggis with neeps, tattis and salsa verde here.

What’s new at Ballintaggart Farm?

“We’re launching lots of new classes at our Cook School. We’ve always done bread classes but we’ll be running specific sourdough classes in response to demand and a lot of our Fire and Foraging class where we take people out to forage and cook over fire. We’ve just gained planning approval for six new bedrooms at the farm which takes us to 18 rooms. We’re a small business so it’s quite a big jump. Our production kitchen will be kept busy with 60 weddings booked this summer and with our farm shop which we opened as an essential food shop during lockdown. We do our own ready meals, local cheese, all our wines. It’s proving really popular.”

What changes have you noticed since you launched?

“Post-pandemic, we’re noticing our guests are choosing Ballintaggart because of the immersive food experience from start to finish, whether they’re in the bar ordering a cocktail made using foraged ingredients, doing a cookery class or staying in our self-catering cottage and buying ingredients from our shop. People want something a little different.”

What kind of produce do you work with?

“We’re just so led by the seasons and what’s available. At the moment, we’re working closely with an asparagus grower locally who, during the off season, grows and harvest sea kale. We’re able to get our hands on amazing quality game from local estates which we consciously try to use wherever we can because there’s a huge oversupply. Perthshire’s famous for its berries, so from the beginning of May, we get incredible blueberries, strawberries and raspberries from a farm in Aberfeldy.”

How will you be celebrating Burns Night?

“We’re doing a collaborative five-course Burns feast with Dewar’s in Aberfeldy, the closest distillery to us, which a lot of locals will be coming to. On a personal level, I’ll force my children to sit through a Burns Supper and eat some haggis at home. We’re also doing a ‘Burns in a Box’ in the shop - all the core ingredients you need for a Burns Supper, our homemade haggis, neep, tatties, Scottish tablet…”

You’ve kindly shared your vegan haggis recipe with us for Veganuary. What are you cooking?

“A slightly different take on it with a sharp salsa verde rather than the usual whisky cream sauce.”

Is it important to offer a vegan alternative?

“One hundred percent. In line with food trends we are seeing a huge appetite for vegan alternative and have developed vegan menus for our Burns Supper and Burns in a Box.”

Author: Hilary Armstrong


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