EatNorth catches up with chef Paul Kitching of 21212 in Edinburgh.
Q. Tell me about the thinking behind 21212?
It was always my dream to set up 21212 and run it in my own imitable style. I wanted to create something that was unlike anything else, something that offers diners an experience rather than just a meal out. When we first opened 21212 our menu had two choices for a starter, a soup course, two choices for a main, a cheese course and two choices for a dessert, hence the name 21212. Now we’ve expanded our choice a little and offer three choices for a starter, main and dessert as well as the soup and cheese course in-between.
Q. How do your customers respond to a small menu?
Our customers are happy with how our menu is set out. Over the years, I’ve realised that people don’t want to spend three hours talking about the menu, they just want to be together and have fun. Having a limited choice menu cuts out the rubbish as too many choices just end up getting in the way.
Q. How would you describe your style of cooking?
My style of cooking is very personal to me, our diners and our beautiful Georgian building in Edinburgh.
Q. You have been open for seven years now. Any new developments?
We don’t tend to change a huge amount at 21212 because what we do works so well. However, we do have a weekly changing menu to reflect the change in seasons.
Q. Scotland has gone all out to promote its exceptional produce? What does it mean to you?
Scottish food is everything like Welsh food would be everything to me if I lived in Wales. I make the most of the larder that’s available to me in the country that I live in – that’s the most important thing.
Q. What are your thoughts on the current trend of chefs growing their own produce or foraging?
It’s absolutely brilliant, mad, but brilliant. How they manage to find the time to do it is great, I really do take my hat off to them. Their energy for the industry is impressive.
Q. Where do you source your ingredients and what do you look for in suppliers?
We’re quite well known for sourcing the best of the best. Wherever the best is, we will go to. Whether this is the farm down the road from us in Edinburgh or from a producer over the other side of the world in Australia – we only work with the best and we pride ourselves on this.
Q. Are you a fan of food and alcoholic drink matching?
That’s what food is all about. You need one before the other.
Q. If you only had 24-hours in Edinburgh, where would you visit?
Farmer’s market: Stockbridge market. It’s tiny but it has a wonderful feel to it, especially on a wintery day.
Street food: The Christmas German market is really hard to beat. Send me to one of the pulled pork stalls and I’ll be a happy man!
Seafood restaurant: Galvin Brasserie de Luxe in The Caledonian. It has a great crab bar.
Restaurants (High end, low end): The Honours is one of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh. For something less expensive I like to go to Treacle on Broughton Street, it’s really funky and cool.
Gastro pub: The Playhouse Theatre Pub.
Café/Tea Room: On George Street there is a gorgeous little coffee shop in The George Hotel called Burr & Co. It’s not well-known, which is what makes it so charming.
Q. What is it like to live and work with your wife?
It’s great. Nothing else like it in the world. The only time we argue is when it’s my fault. She’s always right.
Q. What are your thoughts on celebrity chefs today?
Brilliant – they must have a lot of confidence. Rick Stein has and always will inspire me.
Q. Why the move to Scotland from the North West of England?
I wanted a bigger stage to perform on.
Q. What is your signature dish?
Lemon Tart 23rd with glazed curds and blueberry compote.
Q. Advice to up and coming chefs?
Forget television and iPhones and concentrate on your knives.
Q. What are your other interests or how do you unwind when you are not in the kitchen?
Cricket, history, landscape photography.
Q. And finally.. Your guilty food pleasures….?
Refresher chews, drumsticks. Wham Bars. Anything chewy.
Something savoury? A steaming hot jacket potato loaded up with cold cottage cheese.
Make a reservation..
21212, 3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB
0345 22 21212 (UK)
+44 (0)131 523 1030 (International)
About Paul Kitching
Paul and his partner-wife Katie O’Brien have over 45 combined years of Michelin star experience.
The duo moved to Edinburgh in 2009 where they opened 21212, a five-star restaurant with rooms. The restaurant has received numerous awards – including best new restaurant in the UK, a Michelin star, four AA rosettes and been named Catering in Scotland’s Restaurant of the Year. Paul was also awarded the Prince Philip medal for services to the catering industry.
Prior to their move north, Paul and Katie ran Juniper in Greater Manchester. Juniper received accolades and praise from chefs and reviewers alike. It became the North West’s only 4AA rosette restaurant and Greater Manchester’s only Michelin-starred restaurant. It also ranked in the top 20 restaurants in The Good Food Guide and was England’s Restaurant of the Year.