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Scotland's Larder: Can Misirlioglu of Écosse Éclair Edinburgh

We talk to Can Misirlioglu about fulfilling his sweet dreams and opening his shop, called Écosse Éclair on Easter Road in Edinburgh.

Published: October 20, 2021
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The Écosse Éclair shop on Easter Road wouldn't look out of place in a posh London street, and you know they must be doing something right when the French community are flocking, and pronounce the éclairs as the best in Scotland.

But it may come as a surprise that owner, Can Misirlioglu (pronounced Jan) is neither French or Scottish, he was born in the Netherlands, but grew up in Istanbul and then decided to move to the UK.

Écosse Éclair
The range of Éclair on offer Cranachan, Lemon Meringue, Coffee Crème and Chocolate. Photo: Lisa Ferguson

He is passionate about pastry and has long held a dream to run his own business… and settling with his wife in Scotland gave him the confidence to take that step.

Sweet Dreams

Turkish cuisine reflects its ethnically diverse population, being at the crossroads of the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia, Can grew up and has experience of many different cultures and cuisines.

However, a sweet tooth means he is a big fan of Turkish desserts which use a lot of syrups, and he is, of course, a fan of European patisserie - why else the French visitors.

His favourite savoury snack is a Turkish street food called Simit: "They sell it everywhere in Turkey all the regions have different ways of making it."

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey with simit street food cart Photo: samael334/istock

Mother and son

His parents separated when he was young and he grew up with his mother who worked to provide, although both his parents are good cooks, but he learned a lot of things from his mum, and his grandmother was the top chef of the family. “I'm just trying to keep up with them," he says, modestly.

Although he has been a professional pastry chef for 15 years, there are some dishes his mum is better at making, as he readily confesses.

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"She has a special recipe for a caramelised apple cookie, which is amazing. I still can't figure out how she does it. Her cookie dough is very crumbly an, when I try, I overwork it and it becomes very elastic, like a bread dough."

Écosse Éclair Edinburgh Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Art of cooking

After leaving school he wanted to study design but eventually chose the Culinary Arts. He attended a private culinary school to learn professional European cuisine before he headed to Italy to learn more about pastry making.

"I spent a year studying, for six months in Parma then Sicily. I really enjoyed it." He then returned to Turkey to be reunited with his girlfriend (now his wife).

"We hadn't seen each other for a year and we didn't want to spend more time apart so I worked in Istanbul at Les Ottomans and then at other catering jobs."

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They had met as students and she now worked as a lawyer with the Turkish Football Federation which meant long hours for them both, so they decided that something had to change.

The Scottish Cranachan Éclair Photo: Lisa Ferguson

The Big Smoke

Can looked around and applied and was accepted for job in the pastry section of The Lanesborough in London. "I flew in for two days and went straight into the kitchen. I started working a week later."

So his girlfriend left her job and joined him a couple of months later, although, he admits, "a typical Turkish girl would have ended the relationship."

The move was a success and they married in Hammersmith with more good news as his wife ended up employed in the Turkish consulate.

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He moved on to the Hyatt Regency London for four years and considers it as, ”one of the best places I have ever worked".

“There was a gas explosion in the basement and kitchens in 2014 but the company kept their staff employed throughout the year-long rebuilding.

They prioritise keeping their staff happy; it happened at 11.20pm, I left minutes before. Luckily I had gone home and I woke up to a million missed messages, they thought I was dead. especially my chef de partie."

Écosse Éclair Éclairs. Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Take the High Road

They couple visited Scotland on holiday to see friends in Glasgow followed by a sightseeing tour of Loch Lomond, The Highlands, Loch Ness, Inverness and then Edinburgh, and they both instantly fell in love with the capital, won-over by the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle.

They walked all over the city and they began to feel that: This is a place that we could live in and my wife said imagine if they had a Turkish consulate here."

They returned to London and they discovered that the Turkish Embassy were actually planning to open a consulate in Edinburgh so his wife immediately applied for a transfer.

Auld Reekie

The couple moved in February 2016, he said: "I am much happier here than in London."

Initially, he worked at the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria hotel, as a breakfast chef, and then at Patisserie Valerie, and, although it was a job in pastry, “it was in the production kitchen so I felt like I was betraying my craft."

He learned that a pastry chef was needed at Prestonfield house so he worked there for four years. “It was a good opportunity, I was the sous chef with the head pastry chef."

Coffee Crème Éclair. Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Be your own boss

However, he still dreamed of opening his own place, so when the time was right he took a gamble and handed his notice in and went in search of the perfect premises.

He eventually found a shop on Easter Road. “It was small, it needed a lot of work and I was a bit scared by that, but it is was close to my house so I could walk there."

He took the plunge and signed the contracts but, a week later, lockdown happened. “It was hard, it was mentally tiring and disappointing. I couldn't even do any renovation it was just sitting there dormant."

A government grant made all the difference. “It saved my life, I am so grateful."

Écosse Éclair on Easter Road, Edinburgh Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Opening hours

When he was finally renovating the shop the doubts still crept in; "is this going to work out are we going to be ok." t in July 2021 he opened the doors; "after a year and a half of struggles. So I was ready for anything."

His wee éclair shop is now his pride and joy. "I worked for 15 years as a pastry chef but I never wanted to be a famous pastry chef. I just wanted to gather skills that I needed to open a place for myself."

Sweet Treats

But it is not just éclairs that he sells, he makes chouquettes and choux buns as well as a Turkish dish called Tulumba which is a bit like churros. Pastry is piped into oil with a star nozzle to be fried, before being covered in a syrup.

“It is crispy and transparent and you eat it with clotted cream to balance out the flavour... it is amazing." He also sells profiteroles covered in chocolate sauce filled with vanilla cream.

The mouth-watering display clearly has curve appeal. "The bus stop is right is in front of my shop and I see people turning their head and looking at the display."

Filled with love

The Écosse Éclair name is a French/Scottish fusion so he also sells Scottish shortbread and his own unique invention of a cranachan Écosse Éclair: “All the same elements combined which no-one else is making, so I'm planning to trademark it."

His shortbread recipe comes from his time in London but it has been extensively tested on Scots who have given their seal of approval: "They said it was the best shortbread they have ever tasted."

Écosse Éclair Edinburgh Photo: Lisa Ferguson

He has quite a few regular fans who come in especially to buy it and recently he was been enlisted to make pastry in a rush for a very important hotel guest.

V.I.P.

"The concierge called me in the morning, a guest had requested lemon curd filled Beignet... they had had it before, but it wasn't on the menu and their chef didn't have time to make it. I was able to make it for them and the guest was really happy."

Le Français

Making Choux pastry is very technical and he has been influenced by Maitre Choux in Soho, Christophe Adam at L'Éclair de Génie in Paris and Korean chef, Garuharu, but perfecting his pastries have very much been a case of trial and error; he said, "the amount of doughs I have ruined is unbelievable."

Luckily the French community heartily approve and have been flocking to his door, as soon as they heard there was an éclair shop opening on Easter Road.

He is also a skilled chocolatier but, as there are already a lot of chocolate businesses in Edinburgh, he felt there would be a lot of competition.

Halloween meringue treat at Écosse Éclair Edinburgh. Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Instead his wife suggested éclairs. “It all made sense, she loved the ones I made and the choux pastry is a neutral dough so you can make savoury options as well."

Lend a helping hand

Working by himself in the shop it is a huge logistical challenge, but his mum is planning to visit Scotland in the run-up to Christmas to help.

"I'm pretty excited to have some help during the week days." And he hopes to persuade his mother to finally reveal the secret techniques of her apple cookie!

He is optimistic for the future and he is working on some Halloween and Christmas themed éclairs for the shop display to wow everyone passing by.

Can Misirlioglu of Écosse Éclair Edinburgh. Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Écosse Éclair

88 Easter Rd
Edinburgh
EH7 5RQ

07535 452470

Catriona is based in the Scottish Borders and works as part of the audiovisual team at the Scotsman but she reviews restaurants for Scotland on Sunday and writes for Scotsman Food and Drink in her spare time.

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