Ahead of his appearance at the BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow this month, we caught up with TV presenter, writer and chef Tom Kerridge to discuss Scottish produce and what he enjoys about heading north of the border.

If there’s one thing we love in the UK, it’s likeable, knowledgable and passionate TV chefs and they’re are few who fit that mould better than Tom Kerridge.

Having appeared on, and hosted, some of the most popular UK cookery shows including the Great British Menu, MasterChef and Saturday Kitchen, and opened his hugely successful gastropub – The Hand & Flowers – with his wife, Tom is now heading north with the BBC Good Food Show to showcase Scotland’s wonderful natural larder.

“Above everything else, what I love about coming to Scotland is the hospitality,” Tom replied when asked what he looks forward to most about coming to Scotland. “Everybody is so friendly and lovely. The sense of hospitality – and of course the hospitality industry itself – are absolutely phenomenal.”

Tom will be appearing at the BBC Good Food Show. Picture: BBCGFS

“The last time we did the BBC Good Show Scotland, was amazing, it is such a warm and wonderful place with a huge interest in food.”

Tom is quick to point out that his passion for sourcing the best ingredients has already extended to Scotland, where he cites the country’s lamb and game as some of the best around, saying that Scotland really is “one of the best places for produce”, and that the rest of UK often “look on with envy” at the “fantastic shellfish, wonderful vegetables, and excellent beef and pork” produced here.

And of course, the national dish has also been on his radar.

“I’m a big, big fan of haggis, and we actually make our own at the Hand & Flowers – we do a haggis tart.”

Surprisingly, for an audience that’s not used the traditional dish, Tom explains that it is hugely popular with his customers.

“It’s quite a big seller, I think people are not quite sure what to expect, but when they come to us they feel comfortable when it’s in the hands of a chef they feel they trust.

“There isn’t a single person who has it that doesn’t come away thinking it’s lovely.”

His love of Scottish produce doesn’t just extend to meat, the well-known chef is keen to add mushrooms and soft fruits are also firmly on his list of ingredients.

“Scottish mushrooms are some of the finest around, and Scottish red fruits are just wonderful because they take that little bit longer to ripen – due to the weather being that little bit colder – and when the summertime heat finally gets through to the raspberries and strawberries, the sugars are deeper and the flavour is just so much more intense.”

This trend for Scottish produce being more widely available across the UK is something that Tom says comes down to the fact that a lot of Scots producers are already ahead of the game when it comes to traditional techniques like smoking and game management.

“These inherent British dishes that small scale producers are trying to do, the people in Scotland have already been doing for years, so they’ve got a bit of head start on the others because they are already ahead of the game and the quality and standard is phenomenal.”

The BBC Good Food Show arrives at the SECC in Glasgow at the end of October and Tom states that those attending can look forward to some amazing live demos, talks and of course, a chance to talk to the producers and chefs in attendance.

“For the live demonstrations, we will try to do food just the same way we do it at the Hand & Flowers, by making great dishes that are easily accessible.

“The food we make will hopefully be the same that you can cook at home, but we’ll also be offering a few tips and techniques to enhance the skills that people already have – such as bringing acidity to the dish or adding texture or crunch – ideas that will hopefully make things taste better.

“We aren’t trying to alienate anyone or overwhelm them with information, we just want to show them things that enhance what they already do. That’s what we like to do.”

It’s something that Tom expects to go down well with an audience already ravenous for more knowledge about food and drink.

“The subject of food and drink is just huge at the minute, there is a lot of back to basics skills that people are now looking for, many of the guest we talk to have become far more interested in the history and heritage of where produce comes from.

“It’s become so much more personal, with consumers moving away from the big supermarket chains and the idea of faceless brands, and looking for the people behind the produce they are enjoying.

“It’s happening across the whole industry and I think it can only be a good thing.”

And it’s not just down to the consumers, chefs like Tom are now staking their names on sourcing the best local produce and it’s these connections, not just with the chef and the customer, but also with the producers, that are really changing the culinary landscape.

“It’s all about building relationships, and that relationship that you have with a producer can then see their story brought through to the customer who is eating in your restaurant, meaning they are not only buying into eating in a pub or restaurant, but also buying into the whole food journey.”

For a man running a successful restaurant and touring the country with the BBC Good Food Show, you’d think Tom would have enough on his plate but he revealed that he has also been working on two more television series.

“We are working on a couple of shows that should be out in the new year, one is about amateur producers while the other is about weight loss – two subjects that are close to my heart.”

Finally, why does Tom think people should head along to the show?

“It’s just a wonderful way of showcasing fantastic produce from the region, and that’s the most wonderful thing about it, the main focus of the BBC Good Food Show is to support regionality and we enjoy highlighting what Scotland has to offer.”

• The BBC Good Food Show returns to Glasgow’s SEC for its eleventh year on 20-22 October 

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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