Saskatoon berries used in dish at Gordon Ramsay's London cafe

Once pulled from the shelves in grocery stores in the UK, the Saskatoon berry has landed on a dish at Gordon Ramsay's Union Street Cafe in London.

SREDA President convinces Union Street Cafe to try out locally-grown berries

Saskatoon berries grow on erect, twiggy shrubs up to seven metres high. They are plentiful and great in pies, jams and even wine. Taste varies from plant to plant so remember the sweet ones for coming years. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

One of Saskatoon's famous and tastiest fruits has crossed the Atlantic and landed on a dish at Gordon Ramsay's Union Cafe in London.

This week, Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) president and CEO Alex Fallon flew to London for a trade mission to visit potential business partners, showcasing locally-produced products like Saskatoon berries. 

Stowed away in his luggage, Fallon brought along a big jar of Saskatoon berry jam and doled out samples to the chefs at Gordon Ramsay's Union Street Cafe in London.

Immediately after the first taste, Chef Davide Degiovanni told Fallon he'd never tasted anything like the Saskatoon berry before, and initially he couldn't say for sure if they could include the jam on the menu. A couple of more samples and a chef's meeting later, the berry jam made the cut.

"Luckily, they liked what they tasted and liked what they saw so they included Saskatoon berries on two dishes," Fallon said.

"One was the main course which was a beef and vegetable main course with Saskatoon berry jam as a sauce for the meat and the second dish was a lemon tart pudding dessert with a Saskatoon berry jam on the side."

Fallon said what made it onto the plate will be hard to forget.

"It really was one of the best meals I've ever had. Everything was delicious, very fresh and well put together, and to get that special treatment and a little taste of home, it was fantastic," Fallon said.

After 28 meetings in London, Fallon returns to Saskatoon at the end of the week.

The jar of Saskatoon berry jam is staying with Chef Degiovanni.

"We brought one big fat jar so there's plenty left for him, and absolutely we will be following up when we get back and see how the relationship develops," Fallon said.

Saskatoon berry ban contested

In 2004, CBC News reported Britain's Food Standard Agency stripped Saskatoon berry products off store shelves, stating there is no evidence the berries are safe to eat.

According to Saskatchewan's Ministry of Agriculture, Saskatoon Berry Council of Canada members fought against that and they were actually successful at proving that it wasn't a novel product.

"It was being used by the Royal Canadian Navy and that there was human consumption patterns that proved it was safe over millennia in North America and other places," said Forrest Scharf, provincial specialist for food crops.

"So the UK finally accepted that information and allowed it in the country."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.