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Flavour Profile: Finlay Clarkson, co-founder of Edinburgh’s Pizza Geeks

Published: January 31, 2022

What is your favourite ingredient?

It’d either be nduja sausage or harissa paste. They’re both such flexible ingredients and can make any dish sound more impressive. I use them on pizza, with eggs, or even just on toast. Absolutely delicious.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Crisps of all varieties really, but I have a particular weakness for Salt & Vinegar McCoys. I could genuinely eat them until my tongue goes numb, they’re that good. It’s actually got to the point where I need to go on periodic self-imposed crisp bans for the sake of my physical well being.

Tell us about your first food memory?

It’d be visiting my Nanna for one of her Sunday teas. Growing up, there were no hot dinners on the weekend. We’d usually have bread and butter, glue-your-mouth-together ginger cake and toasted hot cross buns. Even as an adult I am immediately taken back to being a kid again when I have any one of these foods. Never underestimate the power of bread and butter.

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

Alby’s in Leith do incredible hot sandwiches. They even put crisps in them sometimes which is obviously a win for me. Shrimpwreck in Portobello also does excellent food and their shrimp buns are next level. I would crawl all the way to Porty for a shrimp bun.

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What would be your last supper?

To start I’d have a Salt & Vinegar McCoy’s focaccia sandwich with salted butter. I mean, it is my last meal. For the main course, I’d go for a four cheese mac ‘n’ cheese with an nduja crumb. I'm not too fussed about the type of cheese that's used in this dish, so long as they pack a punch. Plus, the nduja would make it much fancier.

My dessert would be a marmalade bread and butter pudding. On reflection, there is an awful lot of bread in this meal.

Starter or pudding?

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Starter, every time. No competition.

Do you have any food hates?

I’m allergic to nuts so that’s an obvious food hate. Although I also have a particular disdain for Fry’s Turkish Delight. Who wants to eat chocolate covered soap? Not me!

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

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I’d ask Dumbledore, Steve Carell, Miriam Margolyes, Gromit (but not Wallace), Micky Flanagan, Jane Austen, Alan Rickman, Mark Bonnar, and the Mexican chef, Enrique Olvera.

We’d all rendezvous at any good motorway service station M&S along the M8 for canapes. There would be crisps for me, pork pies for Micky and sherbert lemons for Dumbledore. I’d then take everyone to Alby’s for big hot sandwiches and then to Decanter in Bruntsfield for cocktails and/or nightcaps.

What’s your dream food destination?

It’s a toss up between Mexico or Tuscany. Mexcany? Tuscico? Both are great hubs for delicious food.

Pizza Geeks have branches at Edinburgh’s Haymarket, Leith and at Cask Smugglers, Waverley Mall. Their Pizza for the People initiative sees sales of their featured pizza matched and donated to homeless and disadvantaged people within their local community. They have so far given over 19,000 pizzas to people in need since starting the initiative in 2018.

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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