Chef’s Diaries: Scotland

El Celler de Can Roca opened in Girona, Spain, in 1986 by the Roca brothers, has held three Michelin stars since 2009 and was named the best restaurant in the world in 2013 and 2015. Head chef Joan, sommelier Josep and pastry chef Jordi travel to Scotland, traversing the country and exploring its local produce and culinary traditions, seeking inspiration to develop their own menus. What they discover is a country and cuisine so rich and diverse that they cannot understand its modesty. This is a fascinating celebration of Scotland’s unsung culinary virtues, seen through the eyes of some of the best chefs in the world.”

I’m Scottish. I’m Scottish and I love food. I don’t mean I love vast quantities of food I mean I love good well made food, I love to cook when I can and I even enjoy choosing and buying the ingredients myself to follow any number of weird and wonderful exotic or local recipes. This film feels like a love letter to not just Scottish food and the ingredients that go into making that food but more specifically a love letter to Scotland’s forgotten food culture. The audience gets to experience Scotland’s food by way of some of the worlds top chefs as they travel around tasting food and meeting producers.

They set out with the intent of creating a menu inspired by Scotland and there’s thankfully no deep fried Mars bars to be seen. We get to see the passion of not just the chefs themselves but the people who are producing some amazing ingredients that are available right on our doorstep. The film feels a bit like a pilot episode for a Netflix show in the vein of something like Chef’s Table, a series in which they do feature, it is stylistically very similar but that’s not a bad thing, it means we a treated to lots of gorgeous cinematography and interesting and passionate interviews with both the chefs and the producers they meet. It’s interesting to see that, whilst Scotland may be best known, in culinary terms, for Haggis or deep fried Mars Bars, but that beneath the surface there is so much more. There is a wealth of ingredients that Scotland has in abundance, huge varieties of seafood some of which is not found anywhere else in the world, varieties of game animals that live and thrive in the wild. We have fruits and berries that, because of our lack of decent sunshine, ripen slower so have a very distinct taste unique to Scotland. Having 3 of the best chefs in the world fall in love with our food and our almost forgotten food culture is infectious, it makes you want to go out and try all of these wonderful ingredients and dishes that never make an appearance in your local Tesco (other supermarkets are available – ed.) and in spite of the necessity of the subtitles the passion they feel for it is obvious.

This documentary was right up my street, it is something that if made into a series I would binge watch immediately. I’m not sure how well it fits into a cinema setting but it does allow the cinematography to shine through. The subtitles, or the person creating them, sometimes struggled with a few of the accents and some of the words are wrong but nothing unforgivable. I would like to have seen more time spent on the food they have created based upon their visit, unfortunately we are limited to the final 10 minutes including over the top credits, the food sounds and looks amazing but i’d like to have had a little more detail. Over all and enjoyable hour and 15 minutes of gorgeous imagery tempting food, that perhaps doesn’t belong in the cinema.

★★★★

Euan Tennant

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