Chef's Rise to the Challenge for Glasgow's Community Food Network

Glasgow Community Food Network's campaign 'Veg Cities' has enjoyed a successful few weeks!

The 10th October saw the final of the first ever Chef's Challenge, which took place at Glasgow City College and was judged by Scotland's National Chef Gary MacLean, Food Journalist Cate Devine, and Jan MacDonald – Chair of Glasgow Allotments Forum.

This friendly competition invited restaurants and cafes across the city to participate in a 'Masterchef' style cook off. Chef's were supplied with locally sourced vegetables from market gardens and community growing spaces. They then cooked up their most interesting and innovative creations.

In round one, 16 restaurants participated with judges touring and scoring their meals. The top 6 went forward to the final – a short video of the event has been produced by Scran Media, documenting proceedings.

Gary MacLean said “Happy to be part of such an important campaign, The best bit for me was the comradery between the chefs and the standard of fantastic restaurants that participated"

Competing restaurants came from all over the city, and included Gnom on Glasgow's Southside, Cafe Tibo in Dennistoun, and the Crafty Pig on Great Western Road.

Chefs went against the clock to make some amazing culinary and visually stunning delights. Squashes from growers in Paisley were roasted, beetroots and carrots from Parkhead were made in rostis, cucumbers from Neilston were grilled and many more mouth watering were prepared with local veg.

The competition was won by Aurélien Mourez from the Ox and Finch, with blow-torched beetroot and a lemon sorrel dressing, topped with delicate salad leaves. Aurélien said “t was a pleasure cooking with all the really fresh and tasty local produce. The Veg Cities Chefs Challenge was good fun and seeing all the great dishes Glasgows Chefs were making was fantastic. Maybe next year I could be a judge and get to taste them all! Happy to get involved and possibly see what Chefs can do working together in a network.”

Glasgow Veg Cities adventures continued on Saturday 27th October, when GCFN hosted the first of 4 planned Producer Markets. This was in partnership with Glasgow School of Art, and the event ran alongside their Tropical Trash event – where students can hire a stall to sell their clothes and creations.

The Producer Market provided free space for 9 local producers to sell their wares. Stalls included local food leaders Locavore promoting their veg boxes, Glasgow Beekeepers with Partick honey, and tasty treats from Friends of Garnethill Greenspaces.

The GCFN crew were also there, spreading the word about their work and getting folk signed up to take action on veg! Watch the day unfold here.

Veg Cities is a national campaign that aims to get more people eating, growing, cooking and selling vegetables. It is part of the Sustainable Food Cities, an organisation that wants to see a shake up of our current food system – reducing food waste and food poverty, increasing the uptake of healthier foods and supporting a local food economy.

Glasgow Community Food Network (GCFN) wants to see a Glasgow where everyone has improved and equal access to locally produced, affordable healthier food. Their mission is to connect and support the people and organisations of Glasgow who grow, produce and eat food, to build a food culture that is flourishing, sustainable and fair for all.

Abi Mordin from GCFN said “Chef's Challenge has been really exciting and helped to raise the profile of local food in the city. Now we want to work with community organisations to spread the word and get more people eating, growing, cooking and selling vegetables!”

There's more Veg Cities fun to come, with the 'eat more grow more cook more' messages being taken out into the communities. GCFN plan to build more connections with Chefs, creating a network of those interested in the sustainable food story. Stay tuned and look out for the next instalment.

For more information contact Abi Mordin (Coordinator and Chair) Glasgow Community Food Network