Jedburgh restaurant a vital cog in a billion pound industry

John Henderson, owner of Born in the Borders
John Henderson, owner of Born in the Borders
Promoted by Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards

Ahead of the 2018 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards, we take a look at a former winner, Born in the Borders, and how it has established itself as a hub for local culinary and beverage excellence.

The Scottish food and drink industry is, by some margin, our largest export – netting £5.5 billion for the national economy in 2016, and growing year on year. Our produce is remarkable –superlative seafood, tender meats and bountiful fruit and vegetables.

The restaurant's food boasts the best of local produce, but also output from John's brewery, such as the Dark Horse ale

The restaurant's food boasts the best of local produce, but also output from John's brewery, such as the Dark Horse ale

So it seems a natural progression to build businesses that celebrate all Alba has to offer – which is precisely what Jedburgh’s Born in the Borders does. At once a brewery, deli/farm shop, café, and restaurant, this converted farm steading is a comprehensive – and sophisticated showcase of the culinary pleasures the Scottish Borders have to offer.

Located on the banks of the River Teviot, Born in the Borders was born as a brewery – originally known as the Scottish Borders Brewery – in 2011, due to practical considerations, said owner John Henderson. “We were farmers looking to diversify. We looked at our core product, barley {grown on its surrounding Chesters estate} and wondered how we could add value to it. Creating beer seemed like a natural step forward.”

The desire to utilise what was at hand and showcase the flavours of their estate and surrounds was at the heart of John’s philosophy when expanding the business into a deli/farm shop. Evidently, his commitment and passion for produce of local provenance shone through: in 2015, Born in the Borders won the Scottish Food & Drink Excellence Award for Scottish sourcing.

“It was a huge vindication of everything we set out to achieve,” he said, reflecting on the win. “Scotland’s natural larder deserves to be celebrated. We source as locally as possible, but don’t just try to buy items, we look to forge deep and long-lasting relationships with our suppliers to our benefit. This might involve co-branding, co-product creation and cross promotion.”

"The Borders is one of the breadbaskets of Scotland, offering extraordinary produce and ingredients."

"The Borders is one of the breadbaskets of Scotland, offering extraordinary produce and ingredients."

How does that manifest? One example is the businesses onsite ginnery, Lilliard Gin, which is run by a third party. “They use Borders botanicals to create a light, uplifting gin that showcases the palette of the region.” That makes for a graceful, floral gin that is proudly served alongside the menu in John’s café/restaurant, also Born in the Borders.

The café/restaurant opened in 2016, and has been described in glowing terms by food critics – the List referred to it as “an effective, but not over-bearing showcase of both the local larder and the talents of chef David Malcolm’s kitchen”. Indeed, it has won plaudits for the sophisticated, seemingly effortless manner in which it utilises seasonal ingredients within its dishes.

“We’re very proud of all our dishes,” said John, “the stronger the influence of local ingredients, from our own gin-cured salmon, to our own ‘Dark Horse ale’ braised venison, the better!”

Time spent listening to John enthuse about his business and the bounty of the Borders, makes it swiftly clear why it is worth a pilgrimage to Jedburgh for city slickers – in a time where city restaurants are increasingly high-lighting the provenance and freshness of their food, Born in the Borders offers diners the opportunity to go right to the source. “The Borders is one of the breadbaskets of Scotland, offering extraordinary produce and ingredients, and at Born in the Borders, they will find it showcased to its best advantage,” he added.

The Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2018 are calling for entries from the cream of the crop of Scotland's Food and Drink industry - those businesses and individuals who are leading the way with innovation, enterprise, and quality.

For more information, or to enter, visit http://www.foodanddrink.scot/events/sfd-excellence-awards