Botanics To Launch Scotland's First Festival of Science and Food

Submitted by edg on Thu, 26 Jan '12 9.08pm

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (RGBE) has announced that is launching a new foodie festival this Spring - Science on a Plate. Supported by a Scottish Government science engagement grant, Scotland’s first Festival of Science and Food will explore science and gastronomy with hands-on events.

“RBGE is joining forces with a number of Scottish partners to explore topical issues around the sustainability of food and a wide range of health benefits derived from growing, sharing and eating your own fruit and vegetables, said Ian Edwards, Head of Interpretation and Events at RBGE.”

Nature's larder

Neil Forbes, chef director of Edinburgh’s Café St Honoré is the festival’s figurehead. As an advocate of local produce and a campaigner for sustainability, Neil Forbes was seen as the perfect candidate to represent the festival and has been appointed Ambassador.

To celebrate the partnership Neil has visited RBGE’s People’s Postcode Lottery-funded Edible Gardening Project and will be working closely with that team.

During the Science on a Plate Festival Forbes and his green-fingered team will encourage visitors to grow their own vegetables and to showcase delicious recipes that can be created from home-grown produce.

Forbes said he was looking forward to “some serious food fun", as well as highlighting food provenance and looking at sustainability issues. 

Children's Science Festival

Among the highlights of the programme - which kicks off next week and runs until April – is the Science on a Plate exhibition at RBGE’s John Hope Gateway visitor centre.

Visitors can browse specially prepared market stalls, learning about Scotland’s food Science, while representatives of the Edible Gardening Project will be available to provide hands-on advice and guidance on how to grow fruit and vegetables.

From March 31 to April 9 Science on a Plate takes over the John Hope Gateway, serving up 10 days of cooking, tasting and scientific discovery for all the family.

Running as part of Edinburgh International Science Festival, events include hands-on activities aimed at awakening the taste buds of children.

In the Real Life Science Kitchen, healthy meat, sustainable fish, Scotland’s super-foods and seasonal vegetables are just some of the foods to come under the spotlight during interactive cooking demonstrations which bring together Scotland’s finest chefs with top scientists.

For the discerning foodie, the Scientist at your Table meals combine fine dining with lively discussions on relevant and controversial food topics: a foraging walk and breakfast with experts Miles Irving and John Wright; a Fair-trade tea party in the Garden’s Victorian Palm House, or an Aphrodisiac Canapé Reception with author and aphrodisiac expert Mark Douglas Hill.

A competition is also taking place for final year professional cookery students from Scotland’s colleges, raising awareness among Scotland’s emerging chefs of issues relating to nutrition and sustainability.

Funded through the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser’s (OCSA) Public Engagement with Science grant scheme, the festival brings together Scotland’s finest chefs and food experts with scientists from the country’s six leading agricultural and nutritional research institutes. The RGBE's partners include The James Hutton Institute, Marine Scotland Science, The Moredun Institute, The Rowett Institute of Health & Nutrition, and The Scottish Agriculture College.

The Scottish Government's Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “At home and abroad, Scotland has a well deserved reputation for its first class natural larder and exceptional research base. Science on a Plate offers people the chance to engage with science through food, creating a unique opportunity to learn about both subjects in an exciting atmosphere.

“As part of Edinburgh’s Science Festival, visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden can explore a wide range of issues – including nutrition, provenance and sustainability – in a hands-on way that will be engaging and encourage them to get more involved with our nation’s food and all it has to offer”.


Scottish Parliament Showcase, February 2

Scientist At Your Table Meals

  • Sustainable Seafood Discovery Dinner, February 22, Discovery Boat, Dundee
  • Foraging Walk & Breakfast, April 7, 8.30am, Gateway Restaurant, RBGE, £15
  • Palm House Fair-trade Tea Party, April 8, 1.30pm-4pm, Palm House RBGE, £4.50
  • Aphrodisiac Canapé Reception, April 8, 7.30pm-9pm, Gateway Restaurant RBGE, £20

Student Chef Challenge
Professional catering students from Telford College, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen College are invited to plan a three course sustainable Scottish menu, which is balanced, nutritious and healthy. Sustainability is the theme that will influence the design of the menu. The semi-finalist dinners take place in Edinburgh and Aberdeen on February 27. The Finalist dinner is held at the Gateway Restaurant RBGE on March 21.

Real Life Science Kitchen, March 31 – April 9, RBGE, £3
Interactive cooking demonstrations bringing together top chefs with leading scientists from Scotland’s research institutes. While chefs prepare innovative dishes, the audience has an opportunity quiz leading scientists about the food on the menu. Check out the Malaysian Spice Kitchen and see top chefs James Wong and Norman Musa. Meet, too, John Wright, of River Cottage fame, and author of the Forager’s Handbook, Miles Irving.
Four demonstrations a day at 11am; 12.30pm; 2pm & 3.30pm

Junior Chef Challenge, March 31 – April 9, RBGE from £1
Hands-on activities for children to help them learn about healthy eating and stimulate an interest into how food arrives on their plate. These drop-in events at the Botanic Garden will awaken tired taste buds and encourage participants to be a little more adventurous in what they eat. Suitable for ages 5+

Science on a Plate, February 2 – April 15, RBGE, Free
Do you know where the food on your plate comes from? Or, who was involved in producing it? Could you grow your own? Find out more about Scotland's food science by browsing our market stalls, viewing Carlo D’Allesandro’s exceptional portraits and discovering more about RBGE's Edible Gardening Project and allotment gardening.