Day in the Life: Fred Berkmiller, chef patron of l'escargot bleu in Edinburgh, tells us about life in the kitchen

Fred Berkmiller’s restaurant on Broughton Street celebrates the Auld Alliance

Published 31st Aug 2021
Updated 18 th Sep 2023


It's early, and I’m woken by the sound of a teaspoon rattling inside a mug. I get out of bed, and find my son Camile in the kitchen making tea. I get a one hour long lecture on the Midway Battle followed by another short lecture on the Challenger Tank, subjects he is always keen to tell me about.


After two or three cups of tea, I go for a shower. After that, I have a quick look at my emails while listening to French news on the laptop, as well as British news on the radio.


I get dressed and set off for Newton Garden, where I grow herbs, salads and vegetables for the restaurant. It’s a beautiful walled Georgian garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh. I’ll pick a few fresh herbs and salad leaves to use at today’s lunch and dinner services.


Now I head over to Monkton, the farm next door, to harvest some baby vegetables and a good crop of courgette flowers. I started working with the owners here back in 2020 and we’ve now planted enough veg to keep us supplied all year. Then I’m back in the car to head to the restaurant on Broughton Street, dropping off courgettes to a few other chefs on the way. There are just too many for me to use. I arrive at l’escargot bleu to welcome a delivery of rose veal from Peelham Farm and have a coffee with Judith who delivers it.


I put my chef’s jacket on, ready to start menu planning with my head chef, Bertrand. Then it’s onto cooking prep for the rest of the morning.

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Time for the staff lunch before service. We always eat the same dishes that the customers get.


Lunch service begins and all hands are on deck.


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I come out of the kitchen to chat to a few customers in the restaurant, before heading home for a while.


After a quick 10-20 minute nap followed by a shower, I spend the rest of the afternoon sending and responding to emails, making phone calls and having a few cups of tea with my wife Betty. Then we are off again, back to bleu for the dinner service.


We have a staff dinner before we check the table plan for the evening and see if there are any customer requests, then I’m back in the kitchen to welcome the first orders of the evening.

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Some 50 or so covers later, the kitchen is cleaned and the kitchen staff all head home. Sometimes on a Saturday, we might enjoy a glass of wine together. Bon weekend!


I’m home and might cook something to eat, like courgettes and steak, if I didn’t have time for the staff meal earlier on.


I am off to bed. Good night!

L’Escargot Bleu is at 56 Broughton Street, Edinburgh (0131 557 1600,

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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