Category Archives: Interviews

In conversation with… Mat Follas

Kiwi Mat Follas won Masterchef in 2009, impressing John Torode and Greg Wallace with his menu of ‘Trio of Wild Rabbit’, ‘Spider Crab with Hand Cut chips and Sea Vegetables’, and a dessert of ‘Lavender Mousse with Hokey Pokey and a Blackberry Sauce.’ In June 2009 he opened his restaurant, The Wild Garlic in Beaminster, Dorset, with a cleverly crafted menu focusing on local and foraged ingredients. The Good Food Guide 2012 commented of Mat’s food, “…direct, earthy, heart-on-sleeve dishes make up the short-choice menus, fuelled by a dedication to well-sourced seasonal produce.”

He’s also a man who knows a thing or two about Scotch eggs. Selected as one of the judges for the first ever Scotch Egg Challenge in 2011, Mat sampled  40 Scotch eggs in an attempt to find the UK’s very best. That’s a lot of Scotch eggs!

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Uncomplicated, moist and tasty.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Hot!

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. Without!

Q. Your winning menu on Masterchef  in 2009 included Wild Rabbit and Spider Crab. Could these be used to devlop a Scotch egg, or are there any other variations you enjoy?
A. I’m not sure, but black pudding works, and there are duck and quails eggs to replace hen… but a traditional one with sausage meat works best for me.

Q. When you’re next visiting home in New Zealand, do you promise to teach them about the glory of the Scotch egg?
A. I promise!

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. Best egg I’ve had recently is Dave Ahern’s (@CorkGourmetGuy) ‘All Day Breakfast Scotch egg’ at Ben’s Canteen. It’s improved since coming 5th at #scotcheggchallenge … need a repeat challenge.

Follow Mat on Twitter: @matkiwi

Mat’s restaurant, The Wild Garlic: www.thewildgarlic.co.uk

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In conversation with… Brian Turner

Brian Turner has worked at some of London’s most prestigious restaurants, including Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and The Savoy Grill, before moving to the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne. He then returned to England to work at Claridge’s and the Capital Hotel, which was awarded a prized Michelin star.

During his period at the Capital, Turner was responsible for the launch of the Greenhouse Restaurant and the Metro Wine Bar, becoming executive chef of both. Here he worked alongside many other well-known chefs including Gary Rhodes and Shaun Hill.

Brian appears regularly on Ready Steady Cook and Great Food Live, and in 2002, was awarded a CBE for his services to tourism and training in the catering industry.

At a recent lunch with Brian I discovered that he holds the Scotch egg in almost as high regard as I do, and states it as one of his favourite recipes.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Simple, tasty, necessary.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. It depends on the mood and season, but if pushed, hot with chips!

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. The best is without, but when needed, it must be HP brown sauce!

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy, or do you believe that the best are the traditional examples (egg, sausage meat, breadcrumbs)?
A. Traditional all the way!

Q. In your book Brian Turner’s Favourite British Recipes, you list the Scotch egg as one of your favourite recipes. What sets the golden morsel apart from other classic snacks?
A. Its simplicity and heartwarming tastiness.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. To date, the Sydney Arms, Sydney Street, in Chelsea, but I am still searching!

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianTurnerChef

Stay in the loop by visiting www.brianturner.co.uk

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In conversation with… James Ramsden

James Ramsden is a food writer, blogger, vlogger and supper club proprietor at the Secret Larder Supper Club. He was selected by The Times as one of the 40 bloggers everyone is talking about, and hailed as ‘one of the best new food writers’ by Rose Prince.

He contributed to ‘The Ultimate Student Cookbook’ by Fiona Beckett and his first book, ‘Small Adventures in Cooking‘ was published this year by Quadrille.

Developer of his own Scotch egg recipes, there’s clearly a passion and fascination for the famed bar snack, and here James answers a few questions about the praised golden orb:

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Serve with ale.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Hot. Most things are best served hot. Except salad…. and ice cream. And gazpacho. Actually a lot of things are better cold. But not the Scotch egg. Fridge cold Scotch egg? No thanks.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. I think a little homemade brown sauce (can’t stand HP) or a dab of hot mustard is good, but they’re just as good without. Especially if the yolk is soft – that’s a sauce in itself.

Q. You recently published a Scotch egg recipe using ‘‘nduja (hot salume made up largely of pig-head bits). What other unique or lesser known ingredients do you think would work in a Scotch egg recipe?
A. Actually on the whole I think the best Scotch eggs are very simple. Good sausage meat, earthy herbs, and the best egg you can find.

Q. What do you think makes the Scotch egg such a popular English snack?
A. It’s a sort of synthesis of everything one looks for in a pub snack – piggy, deep-fried, savoury, salty, eggy. It’s the snack equivalent of a supergroup.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. Princess Victoria on the Uxbridge Road. It’s the tarragon that does it. Superb.

Find out more information about The Secret Larder: www.jamesramsden.com/the-secret-larder

Follow James on Twitter: @jteramsden

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In conversation with… Nick Frost

Nick Frost is the English actor, comedian and screenwriter best known for his work with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. He starred in the films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul, The Boat That Rocked, Attack the Block and the hit television comedy Spaced. Nick is playing Thomson in the upcoming Tintin film and Tiberius the dwarf in Snow White and the Huntsman.

Above all, Nick is a Scotch egg fan. Thanks to Twitter, and a recent meeting at Mark Sargent’s book launch, I was able to discover this fact and Nick very kindly agreed to answer a few golden orb related questions.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A.  Crisp. Sausage. Yolk.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Hot for me!

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. Some Black pepper and homemade mayo.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy, or do u believe that the best are the tradtional examples (egg, sausage meat, breadcrumbs)?
A. It’s got to be a traditional one for me thanks.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. The best scotch egg, for me, is served in Babington House in Somerset.

Follow Nick Frost on Twitter: @nickjfrost

Watch an interview with Nick Frost

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In conversation with… Lee Behan

The Friday Food Club was started in 2009 by husband and wife team Lee & Fiona Behan who wanted to push the boundaries as to what was possible in the home kitchen. Lee – a classically trained chef – decided to take on the role of Head Chef whilst Fiona focused on Front of House.

Due to the success of the Friday Food Club, Lee & Fiona now host a series of one-off secret suppers across London with some of the capitals best chef’s & cooks and have turned their Friday Food Club brand from a Supperclub into London’s leading Pop Up restaurant.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Eggy, meaty, goodness.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. If going for the hard-boiled picnic variety, then cold. If presented with the runny yolk version, then always hot.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. We love the posh spiced Scotch eggs we serve with a green pea paste & chilli tomato chutney and chilled curry sauce. Personally, I think all Scotch eggs should be served with curry sauce.

Q. Your spiced duck Scotch egg with tomato chutney and chilled curry sauce was one of the most adventurous and well-executed variations on the Scotch egg that I’ve tried. How did you come up with the recipe and the idea for a chilled curry sauce?
A. I’ve always loved ham, egg and chips, and with peas and tomato ketchup it’s great. I also love curry sauce with chips. So I thought why not try and combine the lot in an attractive version of the classic Scotch egg.

Q. Apart from the spiced duck, are there any other variations on the Scotch egg you’ve attempted to create? Is it true you developed one for vegetarians?
A. I’d been working on replacing the sausage meat for a pea crust for a dinner Gizzi Erksine and I are doing at Sadie Frost’s house for world Hepatitis C Day, but after meeting for a quick drink before heading to Sadie’s to discuss the menu, Gizzi and I came up with the idea to do a Bombay Potato Scotch egg (Sadie is a vegetarian). So that was the birth of the Veggie version.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. My friend Anna Hansen (Head Chef at The Modern Pantry) does a fantastic Chorizo Scotch Quails egg – very moreish!

Keep up-to-date with the Friday Food Club

Follow the Friday Food Club on Twitter: @FridayFoodClub

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In conversation with… Jason Atherton

Jason Atherton was Executive Chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred Maze in London until 2010. In 2011 he opened his first London venture, Pollen Street Social.

In 1998 Jason backpacked to Spain, and became the first British chef to complete a stage at Ferran Adrià’s three-Michelin-star El Bulli restaurant after initially agreeing to work unpaid.

Jason has become a regular guest on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen as well as both competitor and judge on BBC2’s Great British Menu. He has two published cookbooks: Maze: The Cookbook (Quadrille) and Gourmet Food for a Fiver (Quadrille).

I asked Jason some questions about the beauty of the Scotch egg and was surprised to learn where he thought the best can be found.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Tasty, Simple, Fun.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Cold.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. Yes, with condiments, but only with a little bit of HP sauce.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, experiment with spices etc.
A. No, I prefer them served  just the classic way with sausage meat and a boiled egg.

Q. Do you have any memories of trying Scotch eggs when you were younger?
A. Yes, I hated them as a child but my love affair grew (over time).

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. Waitrose!

Visit Jason Atherton’s website: www.jasonatherton.co.uk

Follow Jason on Twitter: @Jason_Atherton

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In conversation with… Tom Kerridge

Tom Kerridge is a popular chef who with his wife opened The Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow in 2005. Tom was previously head chef at Adlards in Norwich (one Michelin star), and senior sous chef at Monsieur Max in Hampton (which also had one Michelin star). Before then, Tom cooked at London restaurants including Odettes, Rhodes in the Square, Stephen Bull and The Capital.

Tom’s popularity has increased with recent appearances on the Great British Menu (BBC2). He is the only chef in Great British Menu history to cook at the banquet twice. His 2011 winning main was roast hog with salt baked potatoes & apple sauce.

Here, Tom answers a few questions about Scotch eggs and a few of the variations he’s developed.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Fun, Crisp and Round.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. They’re best served hot.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. I like to serve with Wild Garlic Mayo on the side. Mix garlic, wild garlic, English mustard, egg yolks and white wine vinegar, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Q. Your crayfish Scotch egg at The Hand & Flowers has developed a bit of a cult following. Are there any other variations on the Scotch egg that you’ve developed or enjoy?
A. I make a Salt Cod Scotch egg using dried salt cod and quail’s eggs.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. Probably Heston Blumenthal’s pub, The Hinds Heads in Bray.

Visit The Hand and Flowers website

See Tom’s Crayfish Scotch egg recipe.

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In conversation with… Tom Parker Bowles


Tom Parker Bowles is a real foodie enthusiast. He is the author of three books: E Is For Eating – An Alphabet of Greed (2004), The Year of Eating Dangerously (2006) and Full English: A Journey Through the British and their food (2009). He is currently working on a fourth book, entitled Let’s Eat.

From 2007 to 2010 he presented Market Kitchen with Matthew Fort and over the past ten-years has had a weekly column in The Mail on Sunday.

A chief supporter of the Scotch egg movement (yes, there is such a thing), Tom believes it is one of the world’s great combinations: “pig meat, fat and blood, fried up into something so decadently porcine that my arteries began to creak. In a good way.” Here are Tom’s thoughts on some questions I posed to him, including a rather gruesome sounding egg.

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Pork wrapped perfection.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Cold.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. I’m usually a purist, although a dash of English mustard is often a welcome addition.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, others may try to spice the meat etc., or maybe you make your own?
A. A few chunks of black pudding (à la Handmade Scotch Egg Company), makes for double pork bliss. And I like a whack of chilli too.

Q. Talking of eggs, can you tell us a little more about your recent experience with a Balut egg?
A. Gosh, balut. A fertilised duck egg complete with embryonic bird. Contrary to popular opinion, the best balut does not contain a fully formed duck with bones, feathers and beak. The finest are those of about 16 days old, where the embryo is soft and wobbly. You make a crack in the bottom, pierce the membrane and suck out the juice. This is rich, savoury and a touch pongy! You then open the other end, douse with salt or vinegar, and eat the little duck. It has no flavour and the texture of a warm oyster. You then dig into the egg, which is wonderfully rich. I was rather dreading eating it but it actually turned out to be pretty good. One’s enough though. Somehow, I don’t see the balut Scotch egg taking off over here.

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. The Handmade Scotch Egg Company are very good, and Hix one’s fine too.

Read more from Tom Parker Bowles at the Mail Online

Photograph © Les Wilson

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In conversation with… Tim Hayward

Tim Hayward is a food writer, broadcaster and photographer. His features appear in the Guardian, Olive, Waitrose Food Illustrated, the Sydney Morning Herald, Delicious and a variety of on and off-line publications. He is also a regular contributor to the Observer Food Monthly ‘Word of Mouth’ blog supplying both news comment and a weekly column ‘Too Many Cooks’.

Tim is also the proprietor and editor of Fire & Knives, a quarterly magazine of new food writing (which is bloody marvelous!).

An equally keen devotee of the Scotch egg, Tim answered a few questions from me on the delectable pub snack…

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Pork Hand-Grenade.

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. Hot and with the centre just a bit runny.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. With Piccalilli.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, others may try to spice the meat etc.
A. Eggs, forcemeat and crumb-coating come in countless flavours and combinations. Given that the Scotch Egg only escaped the Bad Food Joke Book a couple of years ago, I can’t help thinking that, working at the most frenetic pace, our best chefs haven’t even begun to cover all the delicious options. There are countless thousands to go and I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t love. One thing, though, chefs. No matter how staggering your variation, don’t make the mistake of trying to rename it something more cool. Even if it’s a parfait of unicorn loin wrapped round a Faberge egg, it’s still a Scotch egg…. that’s the whole point!

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. I honestly think that’s too complicated to answer. These are deep philosophical quandaries. I’ve loved real ‘gourmet’ versions, poncey little quail egg jobs and the ones in the gas-flushed podules at motorway service stations and they’re all good at the right time. Does that make quality a temporal issue? The fact I can love a similar egg more or less each time I try it implies that quality is less of an absolute than one might believe. If asked ‘where serves the best beer’ could one ever truly answer. Instead, drawing on personal experience, I can only offer the rather unsatisfying opinion, and fervent wish, that the best Scotch Egg is the one you are about to eat.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @timhayward

Subscribe to Fire & Knives

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In conversation with… Kate Spicer

Kate Spicer is a lifestyle journalist who has written on a wide variety of subjects, from fashion to food. She is a contributing features writer for The Sunday Times Style and has written restaurant reviews for The Sunday Times and The Evening Standard, as well as also appearing as a judge on BBC’s MasterChef. On top of all of this, she is a documentarist who has explored the world of botox and more recently, sought out Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich along with her two brothers in a feature entitled Mission to Lars.

With a reputation for straight talking I threw a few questions at Kate about the little golden-orbed pub snack, and here are her answers:

Q. In three words, how would you describe a Scotch egg?
A. Porky, egg, love!

Q. Best served hot or cold?
A. I like warm, but there’s something uniquely delicious about the taste of the pork infused egg white on a cold cheap Scotch egg. If my stepmothers fishing them out the deep-fat fryer then I’ll huff and blow and puff till it’s just cool enough to scald my mouth and eat straight away.

Q. Served with or without condiments? If with, then which?
A. If it’s seasoned correctly, then with none.

Q. Are there any variations on the Scotch egg that you enjoy? Some chefs choose venison over sausage meat, others may try to spice the meat etc.
A. Look, love, I’ve had some posh eggs in places like Hix and some exotic variations on the theme at the Cinnamon Club. I liked Mark Hix’s fish Scotch egg too at his restaurant in Lyme Regis, but for me, common as I am pet, they are the luxury climax of the car picnic, and as such I prefer a good shop bought one – the Gourmet Scotch Egg Company in Bristol is infinitely better than sad old Ginsters, though the sausage-meat jacket could be a little thicker – eaten on the move, perhaps with some quavers and a bit of Radio 2?

Q. In your opinion, where serves the best Scotch egg?
A. The Bath Arms, the pub on the Longleat Estate.

Follow Kate on Twitter: @spicerlife

Image copyright of Tony Buckingham ©2009

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