He’s one of the nation’s most well-known chefs and is constantly on our TVs and in our bookshelves championing local Scottish produce, but what music does Nick Nairn like to cook to?
In this quickfire interview Nick reveals his favourite go-to recipe, his perfect menu, his favourite kitchen gadget and the worst cooking sin you could possibly make.
And, you’ll never guess what his most hated ingredient is…
Desert island food?
It has to be the freshest langoustine – eaten raw, the slightly sweet flavour is my favourite.
Favourite TV chef?
Paul Rankin, he is just a really great communicator – you also can’t beat that Irish accent either.
It has to be Roast Chicken And Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson. It’s just brilliantly judged and food from the heart. I’m also really enjoying the Dishoom cookbook at the moment, too.
A really good olive oil. I use it for everything: sauces, dressings, marinades; it can turn a humble piece of chicken into something special. I love the Spanish oil Olio, a small producer, their oils are just super rich.
Most hated ingredient?
Desiccated coconut – I hate everything about it. It sticks in your teeth and is awfully sweet.
Perfect dinner guest?
Gosh, there are so many historical guests that I would have loved to get inside their heads, but Ayrton Senna is at the top of my list.
Favourite kitchen gadget?
A table scraper – it is simple but effective. It’s postcard-sized stainless steel with a rubber handle and I use it for everything. It’s the most useful gadget in the kitchen, we even sell them in our shop.
Favourite music to cook to?
I have a playlist that I listen to, which has a real mix of people like Van Morrison and indie American college rock like Blink 182. It can go from soft rock to headbangers, you need something that will help stimulate your brain in the kitchen.
A classic one. A fresh raw seafood platter, highland aged beef cooked over coals and a tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream.
Favourite country for food?
It’s hard to pick just one but when it comes to it, I remember being just north of Venice in a cafe when some old boys were arguing and it was almost turning into a scuffle. When I asked the waitress what it was about, she said tomatoes!
That is just the essence of Italy and Italians, their love of produce and letting the simplicity speak for itself, they have confidence in it and that is just wonderful. I’m also hugely fond of pizza, but it has to be thin and crispy Roman style.
Much missed pal Andrew Fairlie, he was such a culinary genius and a wonderful guy.
Favourite culinary season?
Autumn. You’ve got the game and beautifully versatile root vegetables. The very early new potatoes are beautiful and seafood is delicious around that time of year, too.
Salt or pepper?
Both. Maldon soft sea salt, only when it’s pure, enhances the flavours in food. I use the freshly ground Black Tellicherry Peppercorns, too as they are delicious.
Test your palette by taking a tomato, trying it with no seasoning and add salt, pepper and maybe a bit of basil then olive oil bit by bit and you’ll enjoy the difference.
I’m a huge fan of Asian food so coriander would have to be it. I use it so much it’s the one herb I grow at home.
Cumin for its big musky deep flavour and it just about works with everything; it also loves coriander too. I make my own garam masala and it’s delicious.
Favourite way to cook the humble potato?
That’s a tough question because I love potatoes. Twice cooked chips. Mash made with Red Rooster potatoes for their higher starch content and naturally buttery flavour. Gratin Dauphinoise sliced potatoes. Also new potatoes fresh out of the ground cooked for 20 minutes, butter, salt and pepper. I could talk potatoes all day.
Favourite go-to recipe if you’re in a hurry?
Bolognese Sauce. I make it in batches, it’s not particularly authentic as I don’t mince the beef but it’s delicious, I freeze it and make my freezer my convenience store.
Favourite naughty nibble?
That’s controversial but I have to say Twiglets – I’m a Marmite lover.
Favourite health food?
Salad. Although it’s not just thrown together; deseeded tomatoes, peeled and deseeded cucumber, red onion and crunchy cos lettuce with a delicious vinaigrette.
Ideal picnic dish?
Something like a chicken and leek terrine is ideal. All the work is done beforehand, slice it with a bit of salad and crusty bread.
Ideal barbecue food?
I think a lot of foods taste great on the barbecue, from steaks to burgers. I marinade chicken for 24 hours in olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice and put that on the barbecue and it tastes delicious.
Big portobello mushrooms, peppers and even potatoes after blanching them are great, too.
Are you critical of the food when you’re dining out?
Yes, hugely, although I wish I wasn’t. I do pick the restaurants I go to carefully though so I haven’t had a bad meal in a long time.
Do you tip in restaurants?
Yes of course, if the standard service charge isn’t automatic then yes.
Top tip for failsafe cooking?
Make sure your pan is hot enough before putting in your meat, fish or it will stick also, make sure you pat it down too before putting in the pan so it removes all the dry juices containing sugar.
High quality non-stock cookware is essential when cooking, look after it and don’t use metal cookware with it. Try and use one pan for your fish, one for meat and one for vegetables if you can.
Worst cooking sin in your opinion?
Overcooking fish and over seasoning a dish.