We’re thrilled to bring you a Quick & Quirky Questions this week from 62-year-old celebrity chef, Nick Nairn, who has happily supplied us with ‘full lockdown mode’ self-portrait.
From restaurateur to celebrity chef and food campaigner, Nick Nairn has had a long and pioneering career in the UK food industry. A familiar face from television, Nick is equally famous for his staunch support of top-quality Scottish produce and passionate advocacy of healthy eating. Based at his stunning Port of Menteith Cook School Nick’s hectic schedule includes teaching there, as well as filming and writing. He is also in demand as a food consultant, and travels the world giving cooking demonstrations and speaking on food-related issues.
Nick Nairn Consulting currently runs The Kailyard restaurant at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane hotel, and has helped several other businesses get kick-started.
Tell us 4 important facts about yourself:
- Well, I am quite good at cooking!
- I’m really into cycling and hillwalking
- I’m married to Jules, and we work together. It works really well and she’s the love of my life so I’m very lucky.
- Our family includes the four children we have together: the eldest runs the bar in our restaurant, our second eldest has just finished a law degree, our youngest girl works in a restaurant in Edinburgh and the youngest boy has just finished his Highers and done extremely well, so we’re very proud of them and the way everyone has coped throughout the long lockdowns. We also have a ten-year-old brown Labrador called Maisie and a one-year-old black Labrador called Blue, so they all keep us quite busy!
What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why?
My favourite age in life has been since I met Jules! We met later in life so for me that’s been my late 50s and now early 60s. Until the pandemic we loved eating out and spending time together enjoying city breaks, so obviously that’s been on hold with Covid and we’re going to have to work hard reopening the Cook School and the restaurant (Nick’s at Port Of Menteith) to get back on our feet, but hopefully in time we’ll return to that and can resume enjoying life at a gentler pace.
Who is your favourite fictional character or famous person over 60?
Ooh – is James Bond over 60? I’d say probably Morgan Freeman then. He’s a fantastic character and an amazing actor and I think he’d be a great person to have at a dinner party.
You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you?
It’d probably be a painting. I have an oil painting by the Glasgow artist, John Brown. He was a teacher at the Art School and started painting in his 40s and I have this big piece from his debut show that I love, so I’d grab that.
What’s your favourite creative pastime?
Cooking! It’s always been the thing I’ve loved most and done best, and lockdown was a time for me to really experiment. I’ve spent it learning proper Indian cooking and I’m now completely obsessed with it. India is such a huge country with so many styles of cuisine, so the food is incredibly varied and it’s quite difficult to make it truly authentic – not least because the ingredients are hard to get and it’s too easy to get it wrong. You need real restraint. I’m friends with some amazing Indian chefs and I’ve not yet plucked up the courage to try out some dishes on them, but maybe one day!
Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected.
I’ve developed a very unexpected passion for gardening. It’s become a real lockdown hobby. We’ve moved into a place with a 50-metre-long garden and it was an overgrown disaster that had been untouched for 30 years. It became a joint project for Jules and I and I’ve been double digging a massive bed from end to end and clearing brambles and nettles from it. It’s been a huge amount of work but we’ve discovered there’s great soil in there, and are enjoying creating sections in the garden and it’s become one of my favourite spaces to sit still in. I even watch Gardener’s World now, which I never saw myself doing before!
If Nick’s answers have inspired you, why not try your hand at writing about how you eat well as part of our monthly CLANGERS project where Autumn Voices members share their own experiences. Read more about CLANGERS.