There are of course many ways in which you can improve your culinary skills. Six months at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School will help. Or follow the lead of that lady in Julie and Julia, who set out to make every single dish in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But let’s assume you lack the…

Read More

Daniel, Norman and Alison Milne On a gloriously sunny November day, I am on Demperston Farm, just outside Auchtermuchty in the Kingdom of Fife. The view is idyllic, looking south over the Lomond Hills. Alison Milne, however, is in reflective mode. As a society, we have never been more disconnected from our food and how…

Read More

I wish back for just one normal evening. I was loved and I was never hungry, and for a small girl from Currock, that was as good as things get. We all know now that the small girl from Currock went on to do many more things. But until I read this, her autobiography, all I…

Read More

CHEF WATCH Featuring Fred Berkmiller, Chef Patron of L’escargot bleu, Broughton Street, Edinburgh How long have you been a chef? I started my apprenticeship at the age of 14, and took my first head chef job was when I was 23. Why did you become a chef? I didn’t really choose to, rather I was…

Read More

    Long Island Duck I started this article looking to escape from the misery of a dreich and wet Sunday. Some hours on, with the brain nipping, I’m really wishing I hadn’t. The source of my perplexity (at this stage I neither know nor care whether that is a real word) will become clear…

Read More

We’ve all seen that fridge magnet. It was quite amusing the first time. (No, I don’t have one. Mine is the equally classic Life’s too short to drink bad wine, of which more later.) But for the inexperienced cook, keeping wine out of the pan and pouring it into the gob can sometimes be the…

Read More

CHEF WATCH Scottish Chef of the Year Featuring Bill Kerr, two time winner, Scottish Chef of the Year, producer of some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life. Why did you become a chef? At high school when I was 12, the Scottish Electricity Board advertised a cooking competition. I came…

Read More

Most of us will have eaten in a restaurant which has only just opened its doors. We will take in the decor, probably smile a little at the inexperience of the waiting staff, then get stuck in to the menu and wine list. How many of us give any thought at all to the process…

Read More

Last month I spent a pleasant Sunday at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School. It occurred to me that although I have been on a fair few such courses over the past twenty odd years, and on several continents, I don’t recall reading many column inches on them. So here are some thoughts. Michelin Starred…

Read More

If you want to begin at the beginning, you will have to go back about 4000 years to what is now Mexico. Archaeologists have established – I know not how – that chocolate beverages were being consumed from that time. The word they use for those early consumers is Mesoamericans, whose area stretched from modern…

Read More

CHEF WATCH Featuring Craig Millar, Chef proprietor of Craig Millar @16 West End, St Monans, Fife How long have you been a chef? I have been a chef (including college) for 33years Why did you become a chef? I always say I became a chef as a matter of survival as my Mum was never…

Read More

Even as lockdown eases, life can still seem a little, well, humdrum. We may be able to eat out, but there is a definite lack of spontaneity. Even the simple pleasure of popping in somewhere for a drink is accompanied by someone (alarmingly) pointing what looks like a laser site at the middle of your…

Read More

Neil Gilmour and Andy Smith It’s the middle of August. Andy Smith and Neil Gilmour should be celebrating the second birthday of their fledgling business, Castle Game Scotland. The truth is, however, that they are far too busy. I was introduced to them and to their wonderful produce some time before lockdown. L and I…

Read More

1 September is National Tofu Day. Time to celebrate? No, I’m not a fan of the stuff either. But it does give me an excuse to write about my first hand experience of making the stuff. Well, almost first hand. It was our first full day in Vietnam, and also the first day of 2020.…

Read More

I know I said that On The Side would be taking a break and wouldn’t return till September. Well, fortunately, this column is more flexible than its editor. I was penning a review and added a section about the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme. It then dawned on me that as this…

Read More

CHEF WATCH Featuring Stuart Muir, chef and co-proprietor of Dine, Edinburgh   How long have you been a chef? I started work as a commis chef at age 16 so 35 years ago now … Why did you become a chef? I used to go fishing and shooting with my father when I was young…

Read More

I have to say that the readership numbers for the book reviews in this column have been a bit on the slack side. This surprised me a little. If you are interested enough to read this blog, I thought you might appreciate being directed to people who really can write, as opposed to my scribblings…

Read More

It was an early holiday in what is now the not so far east which opened my very blinkered eyes to the topic of fruits from the tropics. On visit to a fruit farm/botanical garden I tasted fruits which I thought I knew. I was amazed that they seemed so different. Slowly it filtered into…

Read More

This column will travel a very long way to avoid political comment; however, I was alerted for the very first time to this possible issue by reading some of the considerable commentary following the death of George Floyd. Black Lives Matter is not a new organisation. As a network, it was formed in 2013 by…

Read More
Avocado Small

From time to time on the old website, Tom Cooks! would feature one particular ingredient and develop from there. Many of you have commented over the years that you have enjoyed the *history/useless trivia (*delete whichever you fancy) which went with that. For my own part, I thoroughly enjoy the research, in particular the often…

Read More
Paul Askew Small

CHEF WATCH Featuring Paul Askew, chef and proprietor of The Art School, Liverpool   How long have you been a chef? This year I celebrate forty years in the hospitality business, starting as a 15 year-old kitchen porter. Why did you become a chef? Singapore provided me with one of my first and greatest inspirations…

Read More

Narcissism in a professional kitchen? Whoever could imagine such a thing? No point in mentioning names, but anyone with more than a passing interest in food has encountered, either in real life or on screen, a chef who struggles to squeeze his ego through his own restaurant door. Similarly there are many kitchens where there…

Read More