16 May 2022

Bon Appetit! Cookery students’ Scottish French Exchange returns in 2022

Edinburgh College Cookery students have resumed an exchange programme with a culinary school in Dinard, Brittany, in Northern France.

The students recently visited the Lycée hôtelier de Dinard with their counterparts travelling to the Scottish capital at the beginning of May for the return trip.

The aim of the exchange is for students to learn different methods of cookery and food preparation as well as to provide them with an insight to the differing cultures of France and Scotland. Each week-long trip is spent taking in a wide range of culinary experiences, while students also must complete a ‘starge’ – a short work experience placement during the trip. For example, Dinard students have spent time working in The Kitchin, Martin Wishart and Prestonfield House and other high-quality kitchens across Edinburgh.

During their trip to Dinard, Edinburgh College students visited a local farmers market; visited an oyster production factory and took in a trip to a chocolatier during a day trip to the port city of Saint-Malo.

In addition, the students completed a workshop in which they made delicacies local to Brittany including galettes – thin pancakes made with buckwheat which wrapped a traditional sausage saucisson – as well as crepes and Gateau Breton – a prune custard tart. Students also visited a local organic pig farm to see the start of the journey from field to fork.

On the fourth night of the trip, both sets of students prepared an eight-course Scottish French Dinner for 60 people. Edinburgh staff and students recited a shortened version of Burns’ Address to a Haggis as part of the evening.

During their visit to Edinburgh, Dinard students took in some of the capital’s main attractions including Calton Hill and the Palace of Holyrood House. Students also visited Ardoch Hebridean Sheep Farm in Kinrosshire for a field to fork journey, where some offal was brought back to make haggis for a dinner hosted by French Chef Fred Berkmiller in his L’Escargot Bleu restaurant. James Thomson also hosted a champagne reception and tasting menu at Prestonfield House for staff and students.

Michelin star chef Pierre Caillet, who visited Edinburgh College alongside Dinard students, demonstrated how to make smoked haddock souffles in the college’s training kitchens.

To round off the exchange, a return eight-course dinner was cooked by both sets of students at the College’s EH15 restaurant for around 60 people.

The exchange programme, which has been in place since 2019, has been generously supported by the Franco Scottish Society which promotes French and Scottish culture.

I would say the trip is the best thing I have ever done. It was my first time leaving the UK and Dinard was such a great place to go, a whole different experience. The produce markets in Dinard were really good, we got to see and use a variety of produce from seafood to vegetables which was fantastic. It was also great to work with fellow students and chefs in Dinard. The atmosphere was buzzing and second to none. We all worked really well as a team.
Professional Cookery student, Simon Perkins
It has been brilliant to resume our exchange programme with the Lycée hôtelier de Dinard, having missed out on two years. It’s a fantastic experience for both groups of students.
Steph Tanner, Head of School for Professional Cookery