The Buck and Birch was launched in April 2012 when 12 unsuspecting guests were the first to sample our version of Scottish cuisine. But as with all these things the seed of the idea was planted in our minds many years before in the Highlands of Scotland and fjords of Norway where we each grew up, and of course a bit later too when; in its earliest phase of development, the chef had to be tempted back from the hedgerow of retirement into doing something with all the things he posted on Facebook. Birch syrup, home made wine, allotment veg and foraging galore. Of course a chef can't say no for long and all it took was an evening in a local drinking establishment plied with enough beer to blur his better judgement and the rest as they say, is history...
That first dinner was a massive success and it was clear from then that we were onto something that we would have to follow up on. There was no option really.
A few dinners later and we had added to our base, refined our ideas and philosophies, grown in confidence and made many more people happy; delighted at our take on what Scottish food could be.
We have come quite a way since then but see this as only the beginning. There are mountains,seas, coastlines and forest of incredible edibles waiting to be discovered and eaten in Scotland. We very much see the Buck and Birch as part of that voyage of discovery and rediscovery that is underway at the moment.
Rupert Waites is the Chef for the Buck and Birch and up to now has also been the chief forager, veg grower, bird plucker, butcher, brewer, fermenter, curer and sometime dish and bottle washer. With an inquisitive mind and love of feeding people he says about the challenges at Buck and Birch,
" It is really a combination of lots of the things I love to do, from growing edibles to cooking them. Each dinner is the end result of lots of research, country walks and meeting local producers before bringing it all together to make make people happy.
I grew up in the North West Highlands of Scotland and began my kitchen life washing dishes in a local cafe aged 14. By 28 I was in charge of one of Edinburgh's busiest kitchens which was lots of fun but ultimately unfulfilling. Buck and Birch is probably the only project that could have got me interested in cooking again. It's a lot of hard work but great when you get the reaction. It feels like having a great big dinner party and is the best buzz imaginable."
Tom Chisholm's formative years were spent growing up around Oslo where outdoors is a way of life. "I have vivid memories of picking fruit for jam, remote fishing adventures and camp fire cooking ant it is this that I go back to for inspiration."
A Fine art graduate, Tom shunned the solitary world of the artist for a glamorous and diverse world of work that took in teaching, advertising and lots and lots of catering . Apart from setting the wheels in motion, Tom's role at Buck and Birch is in the branding and styling of the events, sourcing venues, looking after bookings and, on the day, getting stuck in in the kitchen.
"The Buck and Birch gives me the chance to use all of the skills I have learned over the years to help produce something I am really proud of. I love the collaborative element in what we do as well as the reception it receives and can't wait to develop it further"
Rebecca (Bex) Chisholm is the vital cog in this machine that stops the other two from veering off course. Where they have their heads somewhat in the creative clouds she is the voice of reason keeping everyone on track.
Working front of house in various restaurants over the years as well as being an experienced and successful massage practitioner Bex knows exactly what goes into providing good service,
"It's all about understanding the individual customer and tailoring your approach to suit them whilst maintaining your own personality. What suits one person may not suit another and you have to be aware of this to be truly accommodating. Above all you have to believe in the product you are providing and with the Buck and Birch this is easy. I love the combination of fine dining formality with the social aspect of a dinner party that creates an atmosphere of sophistication without the pretentiousness of many top restaurants. There is nothing more enjoyable than hearing the gasps of wonder from diners when a plate of food is placed before them, the brief silence as everyone tries a first bite and then chat and laughter as they all get to know each other through this shared experience."