Shona Sutherland, A journey of flavor, innovation, and sustainability

Category: Hospitality & Gastronomy

Having been brought up surrounded by rolling hills, fertile land, rivers, a specific growing climate and an economy heavily reliant on agriculture and tourism, it is no wonder Shona’s fascination with creating delicious dishes came at an early age!

Culinary Journey, in Blairgowrie, Scotland

Shona's childhood in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Scotland, revolved around gathering ingredients in her family kitchen and exploring recipe books and her grandmother's handwritten notes. With her father's passion for gardening, they always had an abundance of vegetables and fruits to turn into delicious meals. Perthshire's rich culinary landscape, featuring raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, trout, salmon, beef, lamb, venison, dairy products, potatoes, barley, cheese, honey, rapeseed oil, whisky, and cherries, adds to the region's culinary reputation.

In addition to an already stunning array of fresh local produce, within an hour from home, Shona has access to some of the most picturesque fishing villages in the country, landing impressive catches daily. Langoustine, hand dived scallops, oysters, haddock (often smoked for the famous Arbroath Smokie), cod, mackerel, herring, lobster and crab are all highly revered here in Scotland and far further afield, with good reason!

After completing her HND in Hotel, Catering, and Institutional Management at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, Shona's passion for culinary arts became evident. She gained extensive experience working in various chef positions across the UK, including as head chef at a prestigious 2AA Rosette Country House Hotel in the Lake District. Here, her commitment to using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients blossomed, with many herbs and vegetables grown on-site or foraged from the surrounding forest.

In a departure from Scotland's lush landscapes, Shona spent five years in Andalucia, Spain, where she immersed herself in creating desserts and cakes for private clients and restaurants. Though her love for chocolate persisted, the arid climate posed challenges. Nevertheless, her time in the small Andalucian village of Jauro and Antas provided rich insights into Spanish country life—early mornings at the market, communal feasts featuring oversized paellas, traditional practices like the 'matanza' (pig sacrifice), and the art of preserving meats. This experience deepened her appreciation for both Scottish and Spanish culinary traditions.

From Contract Catering, to Chocolate Mastery

Upon returning to Scotland with her nearly seven-year-old daughter, Shona embarked on a culinary journey to support her family, initially working in contract catering for six years while nurturing dreams of entrepreneurship in Perthshire. Despite limited opportunities for full-time chef employment, she honed her skills through courses with renowned experts, particularly in chocolate crafting. In 2011, she realized her dream with the opening of "Taystful," specializing in cakes and desserts, later expanding into chocolate courses in 2013. Her teaching ventures have taken her across the UK and France, supported by her role as a board member of the Master Chefs of Great Britain.

Highlights of her career include successful competitions at the Scottish Baking Awards and Culinary Championships, as well as representing Scotland at prestigious culinary events like the Culinary World Cup and Culinary Olympics. Shona's expertise extends to judging various competitions and collaborating with esteemed organizations like the International Taste Institute and Koppert Cress. Her journey, marked by recognition from industry leaders and participation in renowned events, continues to inspire others in the culinary world.


Sensory Experiences, and Sustainability

“Having worked alongside talented Franck Pontais of Koppert Cress firstly in 2019, and then at the immense COP 26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, plus enjoying a ‘Cressperience’ visit to the headquarters in Holland, my awareness of the importance of such exquisite and delicate products was heightened. I was also intrigued to learn about the dedication of the company to renewable energy solutions, sustainability and lowering carbon footprint. I was delighted to contribute recipes using them; with such distinct aromas, colours, textures and flavours, it truly is a sensory experience including them.”

"I believe our enjoyment of food goes beyond the five senses; it's about how it makes us feel inside. For instance, tasting a raspberry transports me emotionally back home. With Koppert Cress products, I feel invigorated, refreshed, and enlightened. Combining flavors creates magical moments where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Using these ingredients in my creations adds intrigue and enchantment."

"Exploring the combination of Koppert Cress microgreens with the rich flavors of Xoco Gourmet chocolate has been an enriching journey. These pairings have not only added freshness and uniqueness to my creations but also encouraged mindfulness in tasting. Both Koppert Cress and Xoco Gourmet are dedicated to sourcing the finest ingredients sustainably, ensuring consumers experience the true essence of their products. Through meticulous processes, Xoco Gourmet chocolate showcases the purity of cacao, reflecting a commitment to quality and environmental responsibility. Together, the ethos of these companies sets a standard for gastronomic innovation and ecological awareness in our increasingly discerning world."

Chef: Shona Sutherland