Now, the next installment is with the fantastic Paul Wedgwood. If you’ve not been to Wedgwood on the Royal Mile then you are definitely missing out and we’d say get yourself a table booked. If your not sure it’s your cup of tea then try out their lunchtime menu which is very. very reasonably priced and gives a great insight into what you can expect from the evening menu. I’ve been lucky enough to have eaten here twice, Mr E once. First time was with the girls as our Christmas treat and I raved about it so much that the following year Mr E had remembered and had booked it for my birthday (massive brownie points for him!!). Wedgwood has won numerous awards since it opened including SLTN ‘Restaurant of the Year’ in the under £35 category in 2010,2011 and 2013.
Here’s what Paul had to say when we asked him a few questions:-
When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
From a very early age I was helping out my parents in the kitchen and was always taking an interest in new flavours and ingredients and I was never afraid to try anything.
What would you say is your signature dish?
I suppose it would have to be my Lobster thermidor crème brulee, it’s a recipe I have had on the menu for a while but just can’t take off due to our customers’ demands!
What inspires you? How do you come up with ideas for the dishes in your restaurant?
I like to travel a lot and when I’m in new destinations I immerse myself in local traditions and food and then take inspiration from these experiences and knit them into my cooking style.
Do you do the cooking at home?
My wife Lisa hates cooking so leaves all the culinary stuff to me, which I really don’t mind as it gets me out of the washing up!!
What Scottish ingredient do you love to cook with and why?
Scotland has arguably the best natural larder in the world which changes constantly throughout the season, I love wild food, fish/shellfish and the amazing meat produced and vegetables grown on our fantastic farms so I love to cook with all Scottish ingredients when they are peak in season.
Do you have any hints or tips for cooking the perfect steak?
Buy the best quality steak you can afford, from a local butcher, ask him of its provenance, he will see you are interested in what you are buying and maybe guide you in the right direction for the cut you want. Before cooking ensure the meat is at room temperature, oil the steak lightly before placing on a hot chargrill, cook evenly on both sides until nearly reached desired “doneness” transfer to a very lightly oiled hot pan and roll the steak through the pan to seal the outside edge, add butter to the pan, season the steak and baste in butter for about 30 seconds. Set the steak aside to rest for a minimum of the same amount of time you cooked it for.
What is the most essential item in your kitchen?
Apart from common sense, the most important item in my kitchen has to be my thermomix, it’s like having an extra pair of hands and in a kitchen as small as the one at Wedgwood it’s essential.
Where do you go when you want to eat at a restaurant?
I always try and go somewhere new, I like to travel so I combine both these things so have a look at my rota, see what days I am off, check for cheap flights anywhere, then find a restaurant in the city where I have my flights booked too.
Have the tastes of customers changed during your career?
During my career the food scene has changed immeasurably! When I first started out in this industry it was all melon boats and prawn cocktails, steak Diane and mushroom stroganoffs. Now with the rise of the TV chef and the amount of cooking programmes on TV, home cooks are experienced and skilled in many techniques and styles of cooking so we as chefs have to keep pushing the boundaries and moving things forward because if you at home could cook the same as you get in restaurants then why would you go out at all??
What ingredients should every home have in the cupboard/refrigerator?
“00” flour and eggs as you can’t beat fresh pasta and some really good oil and vinegar.
Do you have any tips for budding chefs or restaurateurs?
Be focused on your goals and give 110% to achieve them.
Why did you pick the Royal Mile to set up your restaurant?
It’s not so much that I chose the royal Mile but the royal mile chose me, when we first starting looking for a restaurant in Edinburgh, this is one of the first sites that we saw, we loved it so much, we put an offer in straight away, it was accepted so we then moved to Edinburgh, however due to unforeseen circumstances with the landlords the deal fell through. Now living in Edinburgh we continued looking at all different possible sites for 2 years but nothing came close to the feeling we got when we first walked into the site on the Royal Mile, patience paid off and when the royal mile site came back on the market – as we had previously completed all the surveys, we were in a position to make an offer immediately which was accepted and the rest as they say is history!
*Image credited to This is Edinburgh.