With uncertainty about food continuing as the horse meat scandal rages on a game chef was in no doubt what was on his plate during a trip to Scandinavia.
Gareth Linden knew exactly what he was eating in a remote part of Sweden because he killed it himself after the expert cook’s canny culinary talents won him a boar-hunting trip in a top competition.
The expedition brought out his primal instincts to help him and his group bag some game for a banquet after a day in the forest.
The 32-year-old said: “It really was an honour to be involved in the trip.
“Obviously, with my job, hunting is something which has always been something of interest to me, but I never dreamed I would get the chance to do it with a team of professionals in the Swedish wilderness.
“My hunting day started early on the Saturday morning. We all got paired up with our guides and went off into the forest.
“We hunted deer at first but the most exciting part was the boar hunting which really got the adrenaline going. In the cold, dark surroundings in the wild you felt very primitive.
“We went on to where the boar fed and waited for over an hour while it got very dark and the temperature dropped to about 10 degrees.
“We heard them sniffing about and grunting and that lifted the spirits. I couldn’t see a thing, but my guide was precise and managed to shoot one perfectly from distance. Hats off to him he must be nocturnal himself.”
While the father-of-three, who has spent most of his life in the Falkirk area but now lives in Lanarkshire with his family, didn’t shoot a boar, he managed to add a deer to the banquet table.
He added: “I true hunting tradition, my guide gave me the bullet shell which I will keep as a trophy and keepsake of this expedition.
“The country has amazing and beautiful landscapes and a lot of new friendships were made.”
Gareth was joined in Sweden, near Norrkoping, by Orry Shand from Number One at The Balmoral who won the prestigious Braehead Foods Game Chef of the Year competition in January. Gareth was one of the two runners-up with Martin Wishart of Loch Lomond.
The chef, who works for Inspirecatering in Stirling, added to his Braehead success by lifting the Scottish Contract Catering Chef of the Year title at the Scot Hot trade show in Glasgow earlier this month.
His Swedish hosts also introduced another animal to the menu at the massive spread after their day. Unlike in Britain, horse meat is a popular delicacy in European countries and the guides showed the talented chefs how to rustle up a delicious dish using it as the main ingredient.
Gareth said: “I know it’s a different issue about horse meat in food here, but it is safe and tastes much better than beef in my opinion.”