Tom Kitchin: Increasing role as 'fanatical ambassador' of Scottish cooking

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Scotland, Michelin guide, Tom kitchin

Tom Kitchin, chef proprietor of The Kitchin in Edinburgh, is cooking at pop-up restaurant The Cube by Electrolux in London this summer
Tom Kitchin, chef proprietor of The Kitchin in Edinburgh, is cooking at pop-up restaurant The Cube by Electrolux in London this summer
Michelin-starred Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin has told BigHospitality he views the unofficial role he has taken on as an ambassador for Scottish food and the restaurant industry in Scotland as increasingly important as he begins to branch out a little from just working in The Kitchin day-to-day.

Kitchin was speaking at the launch of pop-up restaurant The Cube by Electrolux​ which has opened up in a temporary structure atop the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank and where Kitchin will be cooking for two separate weeks in July.

Earlier this year the Scottish chef saw his first solo venture The Kitchin retain its one Michelin star and Kitchin revealed the success of the restaurant was allowing him to begin to take a small step away from the day-to-day running of the kitchen.

"The restaurant has been open six years this year, the profile has grown and grown. I never leave my kitchen I am very strict - even when I do TV I travel through the night on the sleeper train or go on my days off. However my team are so strong now that I think it is time I started to branch out just a little bit to showcase what I am doing," he said.

Laughing stock

"Scotland has always been renowned for its produce but maybe not renowned for its cooking and maybe been a little bit of a laughing stock," Kitchin said, explaining he felt promoting Scottish restaurants was a key responsibility for him.

"If you look at chefs older than me - Andrew Fairlie, Martin Wishart, Jeff Bland - these chefs have really set the benchmark and chefs like myself and Dominic Jack are coming behind, are proud to be Scottish and have returned after training away from Scotland," said Kitchin who opened his second restaurant, Castle Terrace in Edinburgh, with Jack in 2010​. 

"It is something I have had to come to terms with - I feel like I make a difference now. I have kind of taken on an ambassador role of Scottish food - it is not a gimmick or a PR stunt - I am fanatical about it," he added.

"It is not all about Michelin stars; it is about good pubs, good coffee shops and it is really changing. There is a lot of room for improvement but most importantly you can go to the West Coast of Scotland and you can find the langoustines which used to just leave directly for Spain are now staying on the West Coast but it needs to happen more."

Embrace hospitality 

At The Cube, Kitchin is showcasing dishes that feature in the menu in his main Edinburgh restaurant including pigs head, razor clams and unusual varieties of shellfish alongside edible seaweed from the Isle of Bute in a rock pool-inspired dish. 

The chef welcomed the forthcoming arrival of brothers Jeff and Chris Galvin to Edinburgh​ and said restaurateurs in the country had to better serve tourists if they were to return and continue to boost the hospitality sector.

"Scotland is a great tourist destination; we have got it all. We have to rise as a country and provide for the tourists and the more good restaurants like the Galvins coming to Edinburgh the better. You used to have tourists come from the other side of the world to a small place in the countryside which does lunches till two o'clock and they arrive at two minutes past two to find out it is closed. We have to embrace hospitality because otherwise they won't come back."

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