Here at Smith HQ, when we’re not living, breathing and loving boutique hotels, we’re drooling over delectable dinners in London, long lunches in Languedoc, superior coffee in the capital and wine-tasting events – even wedding cakes made of cheese. (We take our ‘tastemaker’ title quite seriously, you see.) Typing is mainly practised one-handed, to enable a non-stop snack stream to pass unhindered into our greedy (but still oh-so-selective) bellies.
In short, we’ve decided to put more foodie posts on the blog menu, and resurrect our series of interviews with the food world’s Michelin-starred great and good (see our previous interviews with the awesome Alain Ducasse and mighty Michael Caines).
Since we’ve been knocking around in Edinburgh recently to update you on this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we thought we’d make our first port of call 21212, to check up on maverick chef Paul Kitching (above right).
The ambitious hotelier has earned himself a second Michelin star (the first was at renowned Juniper restaurant) – as well as plenty of glowing plaudits – for the imaginative Modern French cooking at his restaurant with rooms, boutique hotel 21212. As you can imagine, Paul is a super-busy man, so we kept it brief…
When did you first realise you wanted to be a chef?
Oh never, I just fell into it by accident – driven by unemployment. Oops!
What would you say is your signature dish?
Since 21212 has a constantly changing menu, I don’t really have a signature dish… but beef with pork pie sauce & wild mushroom meringue is my current favourite.
Who, or what, provides you with most inspiration?
Drambuie. And Andrew Fairlie (the two-Michelin-star chef).
Where does the name come from – what was the idea behind 21212?
21212 came from the idea of a daily-changing five-course menu with three pairs of dishes to choose from, separated by two set single courses. I wanted to showcase a unique style of cooking and participate in the venture as a whole.
Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay and Jay Rayner have all given your cooking glowing commendations – that’s quite a fan base! Where would you go out to eat if you weren’t at your own restaurant?
Always Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles; in London, Claude Bosi’s restaurant, Hibiscus; Sat Bains in Nottingham; and also Gidleigh Park in Devon – all wonderful, too wonderful – I’m jealous!
What is the single most important thing you have learnt about food?
And what is the most important thing you have learnt about life?
See above – plus make a new friend every day and never kick the cat ( I haven’t got one anyway…)
What will you have for dinner tonight?
Tonight!! Its 3 in the morning, bedtime and nearly light.
Tell us about where you live: what do you love about it?
Edinburgh – ‘ The Athens of the North’ – need I say more? Those clever Georgians…
What’s the first thing you’d show a new visitor? (Apart from 21212, of course!)
The Edinburgh military tattoo – bagpipetastic.
Tell us something we don’t know
If you missed this year’s Edinburgh festival, come next year: Edinburgh’s the most exciting city in the world during August. Hurry! And at New Year (Hogmanay), there are enough fireworks to sink a battleship – what a place.
Describe your ideal holiday… where do you go, where do you stay, what do you do while you’re there?
Oh, I’m terrible – never go on holiday – oh what about beautiful York ? Oh yes, I do love ancient old York…
What do you never leave home without?
Trousers (but not always). And Kate.
What’s the first thing you check out when you’ve checked into a hotel room?
Minibar – every time. I say, pile in and pay later.