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Ondine Oyster & Grill Edinburgh's new head chef Jake Hassall answers our food questions

This chef tells us about his love of kebabs, Kinder Buenos and scallops.

Published: March 14, 2023

What’s your favourite ingredient?

Definitely hand-dived Orkney scallops. They’re one of the best ingredients and are great on their own roasted in loads of butter, but also work with complex flavours very easily. [It’s] also extremely delicious eaten raw.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

Doner kebabs on pay-day after work with my fiancée. It’s a strange tradition that’s lasted almost ten years. I also think that white chocolate Kinder Buenos are the best, and I could eat a four pack in one go.

Tell us about your first food memory

When I was three years old, I visited Columbia Road Market in East London with my dad and tried my first oysters. I managed to eat six and the guy at the fish stall, after seeing this wee guy smash back a half dozen oysters, was so shocked that he gave us them all for free.

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

Living in Leith, I’m quite lucky to have such a variety of great restaurants on my doorstep. Gulp Ramen on Leith Walk would be my go-to for regular casual eating. If I were out for an occasion, it would definitely be my old boss, Restaurant Martin Wishart. My good friends at Borough, who also do an amazing pie on their lunch menu. Also, if I was going for an after-work pint, I’d only go to one place – Nauticus in Leith.

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What would be your last supper?

I love seafood, so a classic, well executed fruits de mer would hit the spot, or even better – an Ondine hot roasted shellfish platter with garlic and parsley broth.

Starter or pudding?

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I could definitely go into a restaurant and order five starters.

Do you have any food hates?

I hate raw celery. I don’t mind celery in a dish, but don’t enjoy it on its own. Apart from that, there’s not much I don’t eat.

What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite? To start I’d serve Orkney scallops with a roasted chicken butter sauce. The main would be a large steak tartare with chips and a cherry Bakewell tart to finish, with clotted cream. My dream guests would have to be: Liam Gallagher, having grown up with a love for Oasis, Henrik Larsson, my hero as a child when I wanted to be a professional footballer. I’d also have to invite my grandad, who I was very close with growing up, but unfortunately didn’t get to eat my food.

What's your favourite geographical foodie destination? Tokyo. I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Japan as an 18-year-old travelling. I enjoyed it when locals and foodie tourists alike recommended the best places to eat tempura, ramen and sushi. The highlight was Tsukiji Fish Market. There was such a variety of stalls.

Jake Hassall has previously worked as head chef in Restaurant Martin Wishart and was also a finalist in the 2021 Roux Scholarship.

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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