Chef Tony Borthwick

Tony Borthwick, chef at The Plumed Horse

by Great British Chefs 15 May 2012

Tony Borthwick started his culinary career after an accident on his horse led to a broken neck and a year-long recovery, during which time he decided to pursue his dream.

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After a move to London, which saw him hone his skills by dining in restaurants, buying the ingredients and trying the dish at home to achieve the same results.

Borthwick worked at a number of establishments before joining The Savoy. His reputation and expertise grew quickly, as well as a desire to develop the well-accepted techniques he came across.

Borthwick moved back to Scotland and, in 1998, opened the original Plumed Horse in the Dumfriesshire village of Crossmichael. He won his first Michelin star in 2001 and became Scottish Chef of the Year in 2005.

In 2006, the Plumed Horse was relocated to Lewith, where it regained the Michelin star and won three AA rosettes, thanks to Borthwick’s ethos of 'hard work, ability and consistency'.

Situated in a quiet street behind a frontage done out to look impressively stable-like, the restaurant has been notice for its service, its cosy atmosphere and – above all – its food. Much has been made of Borthwick’s story: namely, the accident which gave him time to reflect on a change of career, and the path of hard work which took him to his Michelin star. Here, the food speaks for itself.

Borthwick's style is modern European, with techniques to match. The dishes are complex, distilling a number of widely-sourced influences and ingredients into key contrasting elements, which burst with flavour.

Luxury ingredients and delicate touches of global flavour – marinated fruits, juices, jellies – rub shoulders with much more robust local fare on the menu here. So starters might consist of a guinea fowl and wood pigeon terrine accompanied by bacon vinaigrette and thyme brioche; foie gras will make it onto the menu accompanied by wine-flavoured jelly and marinated grapes.

Classic combinations like monkfish and Alsace bacon could arrive with sauce vierge and smoked eel alongside the garlic mash and green beans, and roast duck breast might be augmented with exotic pineapple and wine braised pak choi, among other things.