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Flavour Profile Q&A: Will Bain, catering manager of Edinburgh social enterprise, Scran Academy

This chef shares his favourite ingredients and food-loving destination

Published: January 10, 2022
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What’s your favourite ingredient?

This is tough, it depends on so many things. How about whatever veg is in season - at the moment it’s winter, so I’m obsessed with sprouts and parsnips, but in a few months I'll be loving wild garlic and rhubarb, then peppers, courgettes and tomatoes in the summer, followed by pumpkins and sweetcorn. 

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

One of Scran Academy’s young people, Kimberley, makes the most incredible brownies. I made my own recipe for brownies when I first started working here and she didn’t think much of them, so I threw down the gauntlet and got her to beat it. My recipe has now evolved into her recipe.

Tell us about your first food memory?

Really really really soft boiled carrots at my Granny’s house. I was not a fan.

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

There are tons, but I’m a massive fan of Twelve Triangles – everything they make has so much attention put into it. I’m also really excited to eat at Heron – the chefs Tomas and Sam are people who Know What They’re Doing.

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What would be your last supper?

I know it’s a boring answer but I’d have to go for a perfect roast. If I was pushed to pick then I’d go for roast rib of beef (from Bowhouse Butchery in Fife), Yorkshires, roasties, carrots (but not my Granny’s), cabbage, gravy, horseradish, and a really really good cheese board.

Starter or pudding?

I’ll go for cheese instead.

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Do you have any food hates?

I hate a sandwich that’s all soft. Lettuce, onion, crusty bread and/or crisps are essential. Other than that not really. I actually discovered recently that I have a lower than average number of tastebuds, which means that a) I need food and drink to have tons of flavour, and b) I can find things to like in most food.

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

Wow this is a big question. Do I have to cook? If so I’d make simple stuff prepped in advance so I can hang out with guests. I think I’d start with langoustines accompanied by mayo and brown bread, followed by chicken and leek pie, then a chocolate and hazelnut tart for pudding. My guests would include Kate Bush because she’s a goddess, Bill Bailey because he’s hilarious and seems nice, the chef Fergus Henderson as he’s a hero of mine that I’d like to meet, and all the Scran Academy young people, since they would make for banter and chaos.

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What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

We had a holiday in the Mani Peninsula in Greece a few years back. Everywhere that we went to eat cooked basically the same menu, and there was nothing showy or cheffy going on, but I could eat the food there my whole life and never get bored.

For more information on Scran Academy, see www.scranacademy.com 

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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