Chris Niven, The Lawn: “We are spoilt for choice with local produce”

12 November 2021, 07:39 AM
  • Discover the local East Lothian producers that Chris Niven, executive chef of The Lawn, champions
Chris Niven, The Lawn: “We are spoilt for choice with local produce”

The Lawn is located right on the coast in North Berwick, East Lothian, overlooking the hotel’s green lawns, the golf course and across to the Fife coast. The views are pretty spectacular from the restaurant. North Berwick has an amazing harbour and it’s right on our doorstep. This makes it easy for us to source wonderful seafood and lobster. There is a lobster hatchery at the harbour, too, that houses 20,000 baby lobsters which are reared by a terrific team until they are old enough to take on the sea. 

North Berwick has a real sense of community. The locals are friendly and supportive, which makes it a great place to be part of. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to local produce as there are so many local producers to choose from. 

East Lothian has a phenomenal selection of suppliers and producers. There are quite a few organic producers here that sell to local farm shops and at the likes of Haddington farmers’ market. East Lothian is on the coast so there is an abundance of fish and shellfish here; our menu at The Lawn is inspired by the coast and features a lot of locally and sustainability sourced seafood. 

I am quite new to the area – my previous role was in St Andrews in Fife – but I have had plenty of time in the run up to opening to meet the suppliers and producers local to the hotel, and I have been really impressed. One of my favourites is our cold pressed rapeseed oil that comes from Black & Gold at Stevenson Mains Farm in Haddington, which is 15 minutes from the hotel. I use this quite a bit and it really helps bring out the flavour in produce. 

Belhaven Smokehouse offers the best smoked salmon and trout in the country in my opinion. They never fail to deliver outstanding tasting fish. A producer I was excited to start working with is Phantassie, which provides us with all our fruit and vegetables. We receive a spreadsheet on a weekly basis as to what is coming into season, and this helps us plan our daily specials and seasonal menus. Again, I cannot fault the produce that they provide. 

Our menu lets the ingredients do the talking, so having wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables really makes a dish.  When it comes to beef and lamb, I use John Gilmour Butchers in the neighbouring town of Tranent. I have worked with them for years and know the team very well. We get 35-day dry-aged quality beef and lamb from them. They are not mass producers and are masters in their field when it comes to marbling and ageing the produce. 

I source my lobsters from a fishing boat at Seacliff harbour; John the fisherman has been amazing, and I plan to get out on the boat with him in the next few months to really understand the produce they catch. I use some Edinburgh suppliers too like Edinburgh Butter Company for butter and buttermilk and Andante bakery for bread. Over the next few months, I plan to take my kitchen team to meet and spend some time with our suppliers as part of their development, so they can really understand the produce.

more like this
close stay up-to-date with our free newsletter | expert intel | tailored industry news | new-to-know trend analysis | sign up | speciality food daily briefing