The post-lockdown food scene is being fuelled by a younger generation

It’s not just police officers and doctors who’re looking younger.

Published 21st Aug 2021
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

My youthful enthusiasm withered and fell off way back in the Noughties.

I wish it was contagious via telephone, as I could have picked some up from the young couple I interviewed this week.

Matilda Ruffle and Tom Tsappis are transforming Killiecrankie House from a pleasant country pile into a restaurant-with-rooms that offers a quirky 15-course tasting menu. It’s taken over 18 months of hard slog to refurbish the property and its grounds.

On the surface, neither of them appeared to have any doubts – just sheer enthusiasm, bravery and optimism. I was jealous of their fresh-faced vigour, and there’s a lot of it around at the moment.

I’ve noticed, after getting back to restaurant reviews and some semblance of a social life, that there are lots of youth-owned businesses launching.

Even Edinburgh’s vegetarian institution, 58-year-old Hendersons, is reopening, but under the ownership of one of the younger family members, Barrie Henderson (OK, he’s 36, but that counts as young to me).

I’m a big fan of Leith’s newest restaurant Heron, which has talented chef patrons aged 23 and 26. 

If you think that police officers and doctors look like tweens, the current crop of foodie entrepreneurs are knock-kneed five-year-olds on their first day of school.

I imagine this is partially because of the shake-up of hospitality during Covid. There’s been an increased demand for takeaways and we've lost established bricks-and-mortar businesses.

Thus opportunities and properties have become available for young people who decide to change direction when their original peg started to get a bit shoogly.

Island cafe with stunning views to team up with Michelin-recommended Edinburgh restaurant for one-off supper club

The trend among this new generation seems to be for a massive Instagram presence, along with signature specialities – bubble waffles, mac ‘n’ cheesestuffed cookiesshakesbanh mi, gelato, croissants, tacos, doughnuts, loads of vegan stuff and burgers.

I recently spoke to the precocious 19-year-old owner of a new burger place in Edinburgh. At that age, my days were mostly spent watching Spaced and eating Revels and Pop Tarts. I still lived at home and I’d never heard of aioli, kimchi or probably even pesto.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard about anyone in their 40s, 50s or beyond starting a food business. Still, maybe it’s not too late. Venison falafel anyone?

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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