Chef Watch – Campbell Mickel, Merienda

Featuring Campbell Mickel of Merienda and Exec Chef Cuisine. See below for details of how to order their amazing food even during lockdown.

How long have you been a chef?

I started cooking full time when I was 15….February 1986. It was strange being so young out working 50 hours a week until very late at night but I absolutely loved every minute. I feel genuinely lucky that I have had this career that I really get a thrill from every day.

Why did you become a chef?

My family were in the trade as publicans. I always gravitated to the kitchen from a young age, helping the chef prep or just volunteering to do dishes. I loved kitchen life! The chefs were always a bit edgy and that definitely appealed to me.

Favourite ingredient

Maldon salt! Couldn’t do without it!

Butter, unsalted.

Favourite or signature dish

Well my last meal would be Breaded Veal, Sautéed Potato and a Tomato and Shallot salad with the vinaigrette we made in Raffaelli restaurant in the late 80s. I think most chefs have a fairly simple love of food for themselves.

 Favourite kitchen tool or equipment (apart from sharp knives)

I love my Thermomix and my Ninja professional as the blending power is incredible but perhaps one of the best and most overlooked kitchen tool would be cling film. What a genius invention!

Food hero(es)

Nick Nairn, chef and author of Island Harvest books which I found inspiring as a young head chef. I still find an excuse to cook and serve his Caramelised Rice Pudding Brulée each year without fail!

Anne Davidson at Champany Inn Linlithgow. With her late husband Clive, she set standards in Scotland for decades. Didn’t follow fads, produced exceptional food and impeccable service when most in Scotland were still serving soup in a basket. She is still in the restaurant today and still making sure the offering is impeccable.

Any food you can’t/won’t eat

I get the fear from mushrooms! Cold sweat fear!

Comfort food/guilty secret

Anything my mum makes is gonna be amazing and very comforting. Or a proper cup of tea with a hobnob or 6 (don’t tell Giselle)

 Stupidest customer or kitchen experience (if you’re squeamish, skip this section – Ed.)

There have been some horrendous injuries. Palms planed off with mandolins, heads scalped by circulating fans while on counters and washing the tiles down. I’ve seen them all. My own have been run of the mill and just being slightly too careless.

No stupid customers though. Nope, never. They are always right, don’t you know!


Merienda, 30 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6TP.

0131 220 2020

Last year, Merienda scored 24/25 in the Tom Eats! column, making it the joint second top scorer of all time, level with Restaurant Andrew Fairlie. To deal with the COVID 19 crisis Merienda is offering a takeaway service. Unlike most premises this includes the full restaurant wine list.

For full outside catering contact-

Exec Chef Cuisine  0131 664 6965


  1. Patricia Cheung on 28th April 2020 at 6:54 pm

    Merienda is a must if you visit Edinburgh. The best of Scottish produce beautifully prepared and presented. Every plate a visual and delectable delight served by attentive staff. Fabulous selection of wine. Sadly I live on the other side of the World but Merienda is on my list when I visit Edinburgh next time.

    • Tom Johnston on 28th April 2020 at 7:59 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Are you a regular reader?

  2. Carol Main on 29th April 2020 at 4:57 pm

    As a holiday treat the other week (when I should have been on choir tour to Malta), I got a Merienda delivery. All absolutely fantastic and did me over three or four days. In fact, I’ve just remembered there is one portion of seafood chowder left in the freezer – thanks for making me think of that, Tom! Very good value for money and great not to have to do the covid cooking.

  3. Lesley on 29th April 2020 at 5:06 pm

    I love Merienda. I recommended it (or maybe it was you, Tom) to family members who are not always easy to please. Their take on it – fabulous.

    Haven’t tried the carryouts as the author of this page keeps cooking.

    • Tom Johnston on 29th April 2020 at 5:09 pm

      What a very lucky lady this commentator is.

  4. Callum Henderson on 29th April 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Another informative & interesting read. Nick Nairn certainly a big influence on the Scottish scene, maybe a tad underrated too. Stay safe

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