The Chard is a community food project which specialises in Cookery, Hospitality and Restaurant Dining. We love good food and our aim is to share cookery skills and food knowledge with various community groups. We have a slow food ethos and therefore champion local and sustainable ingredients in our projects by working closely with the producers in our area.
We are based in the North East of Scotland and the majority of our events take place across Aberdeen City and Shire. In this area we provide several services including; cooking demonstrations, cookery classes, community dinners, private tuition, private dining events and bespoke catering functions.
Who We Are
Chef Lesley Gillespie MSc
Lesley Gillespie grew up in a family heavily immersed in the fishing industry and in an environment where food was fresh, seasonal and locally produced (often from the garden) and above all, home cooked.
These principles shaped Lesley’s outlook on food and influenced her decision to train as a professional chef. Having completed a three years course in Advanced Professional Cookery at NESCOL in Aberdeen, Lesley’s interest in seasonal local produce and skills in the kitchen won her the ‘Student of the Year’ and also the Scottish Student Chef Science on a Plate Competition. Her sustainable menu was showcased for the summer season at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and gave Lesley the opportunity to work in Scottish Chef of the Year Neil Forbes’ Cafe St Honore. It was here that Lesley was introduced to Slow Food. She then won a Hit Scotland Scholarship which allowed her to further experience the merits of cooking with local seasonal ingredients at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage and at the Shoreditch Trust’s Waterhouse Restaurant.
Lesley remained at college as a Chef Lecturer. Here she taught students both practical cookery skills and food and beverage skills in the training restaurant as wells as teaching fine dining evening classes to the general public. She then moved on to manage the Garioch Community Kitchen, a community based food initiative in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. Here she taught a wide range of classes to both children and adults to help improve their cooking skills and encourage individuals, families and community groups to use healthy nutritious produce to enrich their diet.
With an interest in wild foods, and as part of her Masters Degree in Gastronomy at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University, Lesley focused her dissertation on the study of Scottish venison and after graduating, was employed to carry out research projects by the QMU Scottish Centre for Food Innovation.
As a freelance chef Lesley regularly provides cooking demonstrations for various Aberdeenshire Farmers’ Markets in which she showcases local market produce. In addition, Lesley as a Slow Food Chef Alliance member, also promotes the Slow Food ethos at community kitchens, pop up events and private functions. As a Quality Meat Scotland ambassador Lesley also showcases the best of Scottish farm ingredients through her demonstrations and cooking classes in schools.
Social Media and Marketing
Vicky Gillespie is a Media graduate with experience in customer service and online media. She graduated from Queen Margaret University in 2016 and during her time at university undertook internships focusing on social media and marketing.
With an interest in communications and digital media, Vicky is passionate about social media, public relations and content production.
As the owner and managing director of a busy non-food related business, Martin Gillespie spends much of his spare time promoting (and sampling) the fantastic products from the North East’s natural larder at Aberdeenshire Farmers’ markets. He is also know to by ‘Mine Host’ at the Chard’s Pop Up Restaurants – watch out for his corny jokes and bright suits!
He is not adverse to picking and consuming the food grown in his own garden or indulging on the honey from his own and other beekeepers hives!
If you are interested in hearing about and discussing good, clean and fair food Martin will be very pleased to hear from you – if not, avoid him at all costs – a genuine food
Sara Giudici – Chef
Sara was born and raised in Milan,Italy but left her hometown in 2004 due to her husband’s job. After working in several different areas using her degree in Physics and marketing skills, Sara eventually ended up in ‘Bonnie Scotland’ in 2013 where she studied in Aberdeen and achieved her chef qualifications.
Sara has always had a passion for food and still remembers the smell of the tortellini she helped her nonna make on Christmas Eve when she was a child.
Sara has always been a strong supporter of sustainable, local food and believes in the importance of educating people – and that starts at home where Sara encourages her children to eat food that is good for them, knowing where it has come from, knowing who has grown it and knowing that it is good for our planet.
Any spare time Sara has is spent tending the veggie patch and hens her back garden.