What’s your favourite ingredient?
Porcini mushrooms. They can be used fresh, dried, powdered and in sweet and savoury dishes. Porcini mushrooms and the mushroom family, in general, bring back beautiful memories from my childhood when I was foraging with my Dad. Those are special moments that stay with you forever.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
I’m a big fan of ice cream – the more adventurous the flavour, the better. As much as I love eating it, I enjoy creating my own flavours in the kitchen. A favourite of mine is plum with lapsang souchong and rosemary.
Tell us about your first food memory
I spent most of my childhood with my mom in the kitchen. She’s a really good baker and I was always waiting around rather impatiently for the moment when I could lick the spatula clean.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?
Scotland has a lot to offer, and Edinburgh, in particular, has an impressive selection of restaurants and cafés. Choosing a favourite is difficult but Scott Smith has created something truly unique with Fhior. I admire his approach to humble ingredients, honest cooking, and hard work. His menus are always a pleasant surprise.
What would be your last supper?
We often connect food with special memories and, for me, that’s an unforgettable holiday in Italy. My last supper has to be a margherita pizza from Sorbillo in Naples. Not only would it be delicious but would also make me very happy. I’d also have a scoop or two of gelato to finish.
If I had to choose, it would be a starter. I’d probably prefer something light that would allow me to enjoy the rest of the meal. I love a good panzanella, or a gazpacho – anything involving fresh tomato when it’s in season. However, I know the temptation would take over and I couldn’t resist some salted caramel ice cream from a local gelateria.
Do you have any food hates?
I have strong preferences, but I don’t hate anything. I’m driven by curiosity, not only in my kitchen but also in my life. Sometimes, that takes you to a place where you don’t necessarily want to be, but end up appreciating. However, rat meat is definitely something I would never try again.
What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?
I really like sharing-style food, so it wouldn’t be a typical starter, main, then dessert format of dinner party. Instead, it would be a Mexican feast with all kinds of tacos, tostadas, elotes, mole and of course plenty of spicy michelada cocktails to go round. I would invite exactly the same group of people to dinner as I have every time in the past five years – my friends. They are the best company.
What’s your favourite geographical foodie destination?
Italy. The country is so diverse and plentiful with the most amazing ingredients in the world. It is filled with people obsessed with food and a passion to cook. In the United Kingdom, the weather is a conversation starter. In Italy, it’s all about food. That tells you everything.