What was it like starting your career at 20? Do you think becoming a chef at a young age has given you a bit of an advantage?
No not at all, 20 was late. 16/17 was normal but today you can start at any age – it’s just how much you can mentally compress and how much you want to learn.
Describe your culinary style in three words…
“Me, myself & I”
What’s been the most challenging moment of your career so far?
Oh easy, opening 21212 five years ago. Huge investment, huge move, huge project – still frightening.
Who or what inspires you most?
Edinburgh, and its light, landscapes, colour and shades.
What’s your favorite signature dish on the menu at 21212 at the moment?
Wild Mushroom Risotto – it’s all that encompasses 21212 and everything encompassed within its mystical walls.
What was it like receiving your first Michelin star?
Oh heavens, that’s going back to 1997/8. I felt accepted. The lifetime of devotion – years, months, days and hours, sweat and many tears (wow) – all worth it. It was easy, a doddle – not! I would not change a thing!
If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?
Not a plane, but a train, a special train. It’s the Royal Scotsman from Edinburgh Waverley up and around the Western Highlands. Sleep, lobster, champagne, eat, sleep, lobster, champagne and caviar, caviar, caviar…
Do you have any plans in the pipeline for 2014?
Oh so many things, but mainly to celebrate our 5th year of 21212, grow stronger and help improve and cement our growing business and reputation (oh and to see England win the World Cup?)
And finally, have you had any embarrassing kitchen moments you care to share with us?
Oh thousands! Being told that monkfish was actually skinned baby seal; being sent to the hotel butchery to ask the senior butcher for a leg of mince; asking the head “Chef de Poisson” for his scampi gun to harpoonthe little devils; serving brandy and vanilla custard on the cauliflower cheese for 240 guests during a Christmas luncheon – well it was next to the sauce mornay!