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Flavour Profile Q&A: Dean Banks of Dean Banks at The Pompadour

This MasterChef finalist also owns Lunun Gin and restaurant, Haar in St Andrews, which will be reopening in a new location soon

Published: November 8, 2021
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What’s your favourite ingredient?

Kosho, I feel my style has been developing over the past few years and every now and then you come across a new ingredient. I discovered this at the start of the year and have fallen in love with it as it’s spicy, bitter and packed with umami. You will currently find it on two dishes on my menu: my kosho glazed trout dish and also one of the vegan snacks.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

Magnum ice cream. 

Tell us about your first food memory?

I grew up in very humble surroundings on a council estate in Arbroath. I was like most kids and hated vegetables but I remember the first time I enjoyed them. My stepmother, Pat, and my Mum would take turns in cooking dinner for us and I remember when Pat made a Chinese stir fry - the ones you get from the supermarket in the veg aisle. This was my first proper memory of enjoying a good and healthy meal and might have been my trigger to fall in love with Asian cooking.

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

Most recently I dined at Heron in Leith. It was hands down the best meal I’ve eaten in this country. The veal sweetbreads with girolles and celeriac puree is a dish that will stick in my memory for life. It was so good that I ordered it twice. It's not very often you have a dish that makes you think life doesn’t get any better.

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What would be your last supper?

Fish and chips with unlimited ketchup and Irn-Bru. I love finer foods and they have their place in my life but for my last supper it has to be something that’s going to take me back to being a kid tucking into my Friday fish and chips from the Golden Haddock in Arbroath.

Starter or pudding?

I would have FOMO if I didn’t order both.

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Do you have any food hates?

Hollandaise sauce from a packet.

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

Starter: Chef Clare Smyth's potato, seaweed butter and heron roe dish. Main course: Heron’s sweetbread, girolles and celeriac dish. Dessert : My Nana's banoffee. I’d invite my fiancé Isabela, Jack Stein (Rick’s son), Tom Lewis from Monachyle Mhor, and of course my good friends from Masterchef, Oli Martin, Laurence Henry and Mathew Ryle.

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What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

Walking the streets of Bangkok is like travelling the whole country within a few hours. From super fresh fruit covered in chilli sugar to noodle soups, stir fried crab, pad Thai and sticky rice and mango. Have your drinks and snacks somewhere super luxe like at the top of a skyscraper, then walk around until you find something you fancy for a starter from the street hawkers. Head to Chinatown for your main course and finish at the Train Night Market for dessert.

Dean Banks at The Pompadour has recently been awarded three AA rosettes and added to the Michelin guide.

www.deanbanks.co.uk

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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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