For my first post for this new rebranded blog I would like to show off a feature that we shot last winter for the current edition of Country Homes & Interiors magazine. We got to know Chris and Rachel Rowley when we photographed and wrote about their Edinburgh kitchen from which they operated the popular supper club, Charlie & Evelyn’s Table, nearly five years ago now. Named after Chris’s grandparent’s well worn kitchen table that he had inherited alongside a love of good food and cookery.
Chris and Rachel met studying law at Durham university and gradually realised that their chosen course was not quite for them, while quickly realising that they both shared the said love of cooking. Circuitous career paths followed while they built up their beloved supper club in their spare time. The supper club went from strength to strength, they managed to have a few children along the way as well, just to ensure that actually they would not have any spare time, and ultimately, Chris realised that obviously, cooking and hospitality was his career!
He went to London to study at Leith’s school of food and wine, then worked as a private chef for some time, while him and Rachel searched far and wide for the perfect location to set up a venture of their own. They found it at Ballintaggart Farm, on the edge of the tiny Perthshire village of Grandtully, near the small but lively town of Aberfeldy.
Neighbours include the world renowned silversmith and engraver, Malcolm Appleby (look carefully and you can spy some of his silverware on the table) and Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier, Scotland’s most awarded chocolatier and the creator of the World’s best truffle. You could not hope for more really, although Rachel does worry slightly at what her children are getting used to as a ‘treat’ on their way home from school.
The area ticks every box – accessible as well as rural and is full of hidden gems. A paradise for foodies: Perthshire is a mecca for shooting and fishing, so fish and game are plentiful and being equidistant from both coasts, seafood is also abundant. Famous also for fruits, Perthshire raspberries are second to none and there are even wine producers nearby. The best local and seasonal produce is showcased at the regular feast nights thrown by Chris and Rachel at Ballintaggart. They are the talk of the neighbourhood: highly supported by locals, but equally popular with visitors to the area; with informal, but flavoursome menus created by Chris, continuing the supper club tradition started with Charlie and Evelyn’s Table.
They have set up a popular cookery school, originally part of the neighbouring working farm, the farmhouse and neighbouring outbuildings had been renovated by the previous owners to a high standard; the kitchen, in the separate steading was spacious enough to add stations for students and they have some B&B accommodation as well, for guests who have come from afar.
There is an office, which is invaluable obviously for this growing concern, and the rambling farmhouse is ideal for their growing family.
The property was in good condition generally when they bought it, allowing Chris and Rachel plenty of time to focus on their business. Rumours are abounding that their venture is growing and plans are underway to revamp a nearby hotel – watch this space – I am certainly hopeful of writing about this project for many, many years to come.
I have chosen it as my first post for the newly rebranded blog as I want the Great Scottish Indoors to be about contemporary Scottish Living and I feel that Ballintaggart and everything that Chris and Rachel strive for exemplifies this ethos perfectly.