Scotland’s youngest Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin describes the magical beaches near his restaurant in Leith and why he loves cooking with unusual seafood. Interview: Alex Reece
The Kitchin restaurant is in Leith, which is on the coast near Edinburgh, and I love the stretch from here down to North Berwick. There are some magical beaches – Gullane and Yellowcraig – and I love to go to Yellowcraig with the kids. It’s not too far away, so we can easily get there on a Sunday if we wake up and it’s a nice day.
Then I love the west coast of Scotland, too. In between Fort William and Mallaig there’s a little town called Arisaig and I used to go there as a child. You know how you would go camping with your parents and you used to hate it? That was me. Funnily enough, my whole ethos of what I do now is all based on those childhood memories.
From Arisaig, on a good day, you can see the islands – Rum, Eigg and Muck – all scattered around in the background. And the beaches up there – you could be in the Caribbean. The water (it’s bloody cold!), but it’s crystal blue and the beaches are white. So often in interviews I get asked: ‘What would be your last meal?’ And very often I answer: ‘Having freshly caught langoustines on the west coast of Scotland.’
I love to cook lots of unusual seafood: winkles, squat lobsters, green crabs, velvet crabs (they make great soup) and razor clams. I like to shock people when they’re eating, and push their comfort zones a little bit so that they’re trying something they might not have tried before.
I’ve been doing this book, Tom Kitchin's Meat & Game, which is out now. A lot of people think that if you eat game it’s some kind of upper-class society thing and that is absolute codswallop. It’s very accessible, it’s very healthy, it’s good for you and it’s great to cook with.
I think the secret of a good cookbook in today’s world is to take all that information that’s in the chef’s head and then try to simplify it for the home cook, or make the home cook think, ‘Do you know what? I can do that.’ And then they take ownership of that recipe.
Tom Kitchin’s Meat & Game is published by Absolute Press (£26, hardback).