HIGH FRYERS: SCOTLAND’S CHEF-PATRONS MAKING THEIR MARK ON THE SCOTTISH CULINARY SCENE
Here are the first two, FRED BERKMILLER OF l’escargot bleu, Edinburgh and MARK GREENAWAY Grazing by Mark Greenaway, Edinburgh.
Fred Bermiller grew up in a family that was passionate about food yet initially he wasn’t so sold on it himself. He explained, “I started working in a kitchen at a young age and hated it until I got to London when I was 20. I worked in Cassis restaurant in Putney, among others. I fell in love with the hard work and the industry.” Fred also ran Pierre Victoire in Glasgow in the 90s for ten years before opening Petit Paris in Edinburgh. Then he opened l’escargot bleu, l’escargot blanc and bar à vin. So what’s key to beinging a successful chef-patron? “Multi-tasking. I’ve got to be a kitchen porter, a potato peeler, and have business mind. Being a great leader comes from the top and the back – you have to be able to push and pull. If you don’t know your product, there’s no point cooking. There is a lack of education in a country where supermarkets run the show.”
Mark Greenaway is busy fine tuning the menus and getting the look and feel of his new 170-cover restaurant, Grazing by Mark Greenaway, just so. It opens on 17th April. Said Mark, “It’s going to be informal and relaxed with a high standard of food of course. It’s not all about the table cloths and £500 bottles of wine.” He said, “Being a chef and a patron are two distinctively different things. The life of a chef is really quite insular but when you’re running the place, the colour on the walls, and the service out front all comes down to you.” He said, “I still live and die by my menu. You don’t have an owner expressing his or her opinion on your menu or going to another restaurant then coming back to tell you that they’ve just had a wonderful Thai salad and then expecting you to put it on a menu with zero Thai element, for example.” His career then took him all over the world, spending five years in Sydney in the late 90s when the restaurant scene was very different. Mark explained, “You had to leave Scotland to learn to cook back then, whereas now it’s the complete opposite.”