Putting local produce on the menu

Newbattle Abbey College, Catering manager Gordon Hodgson.

Newbattle Abbey College, Catering manager Gordon Hodgson.

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Preparations are well under way at Newbattle Abbey College ahead of next month’s awards ceremony dinner.

Catering manager Gordon Hodgson, who is responsible for putting together the menu and organising the event, has gone the extra mile to ensure that local produce will be the order of the day.

The former hotel manager enjoys a good relationship with local suppliers and has struck a deal with Pathhead-based firm Oxenfoord Organics, who have agreed to supply fresh fruit and vegetables. Lamb has been sourced from a local farmer, and Gordon’s intention is to complement this with a sauce made by reducing beer which was brewed in Loanhead.

Students have been busy growing herbs in the college community garden, while Gordon himself has been passing on his vast experience to students who will wait tables and serve guests at the awards ceremony dinner.

Excited by the challenge of preparing a menu for the county’s culinary elite, Gordon expects to see a few celebrities at the event. Eskbank chef Gerry Goldwire, a former Masterchef winner, is one of many respected restaurant owners who are on the guest list.

A curry lover at heart, Gordon is tipping Dalkeith’s award-winning Indian restaurant Itihaas, which specialises in Bangladeshi cuisine, to do well: “I’ve eaten out at curry houses all across Scotland and Matin Khan (Itihaas boss) can beat most of them – he is exceptional.”

For a quick drink and a non-curry meal, Gordon has a soft spot for the Sun Inn, near Newtongrange.

A former section manager (Catering and Salon Studies) at Thurso College, he has previously carried out the roles of general manager, business consultant and managing director at various companies in hospitality and tourism. Using his vast experience of the industry, the former head of faculty at Jewel and Esk College now runs his own hospitality management and training company, ‘Good2GR8’.