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Celentano's Glasgow co-founder Dean Parker on his love of toasties, Sriracha and Inver

This chef shares his food likes and dislikes

Published: March 21, 2023

What’s your favourite ingredient?

This is a bit of a rogue one, but it has to be whey. It’s a byproduct, produced when making our own ricotta, and we use it in so many ways at Celentano’s. It features in sauce bases, for preserving and cooking vegetables, in ice creams and even cocktails. It has a savoury taste, but with a subtle sweetness from the lactose.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

I don’t ever let myself feel guilty about food to be honest, and sometimes the weirdest flavour combinations turn out to be the most wonderful. What I do love as a late-night snack after a long day in the kitchen is a loaded rice cracker topped with hummus, sauerkraut, Manchego, Sriracha and lettuce. It always hits the spot.

Tell us about your first food memory?

My grandparents used to make these mega but super simple open toasties with just cheese and tomato. I used to add Bovril to them, which is really common in South Africa. When I was at uni, I’d make my friends similar loaded toasties with loads of different barbecue spices, caramelised onions, you name it. That’s probably what kick-started my love for cooking for others and really sparked an interest in becoming a chef.

What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?

My wife and I went to Inver on the west coast last year and it’s probably one the best meals we’ve had. Super peaceful surroundings, a well-balanced menu and really clever cooking. We stayed in their cabins, overlooking Loch Fyne, and it was an outstanding experience. In fact, I think breakfast was my favourite part of our stay, sitting by the water’s edge after a run, with a basket of freshly baked bread, butter, preserves and coffee – heaven!

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What would be your last supper?

A BBQ in the summer, ideally in the sun and by the sea. We’d have charred veg, whole fish and white wine, with some sort of ice cream to finish.

Starter or pudding?

I’m a savoury person, so I’ll say starter.

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Do you have any food hates?

No, though I do have bad memories of over-boiled vegetables when I was younger. Cauliflower cheese was particularly unpleasant.

What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?

We used to host late night supper clubs at London restaurant The Dairy, where I was head chef, called Blood Shot Supper Club. I’d recreate that but with my closest friends. Always start with negroni and a bread course – sourdough, smoked bone marrow butter, chicken liver mousse, and some sort of coppa. Main would be pressed pigeon with soured grains and parsnip, with the juice from the pigeon squeezed over the plate table-side. For dessert? Always affogato.

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What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

London. I lived there for 19 years and witnessed the growth of many neighbourhood restaurants and the diversification of the food scene. There are so many amazing chefs and suppliers in the city, you’re spoiled for choice. I learned so much from working, living, and eating there and I love going back to visit.

Celentano’s, 28-32 Cathedral Square, Glasgow,

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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