imm— Wild at heart

Michelin-decorated chef Nick Nairn‘s slash-and- burn style of cooking has been captured in a new television cooking series which could be a cult hit, says Eddie Gibb.

Nick Nairn is in the kitchen of his restaurant surrounded by slabs of prime steak and a TV camera crew. When the oil hits the frying pan. camera crew and chef are forced to retreat. coughing uncontrollably. while the beef watches on reproachfully. Nairn. it turns out. has confused a pungent chilli oil with the rather more benign sunflower variety hence the coughing fits. It‘s hard to imagine dainty Delia making such an elementary error. and even harder to believe that she would have allowed such an incident to make it into the final edit of one her programmes. But Nick and Delia are very different kettles of steamed sea bass; for a start Nick Nairn has a Michelin star and there‘s not a cranberry in sight.

ll’i/(l Harvest is BBC Scotland's first venture into the world of TV cookery. though head of television Colin Cameron has long wanted to bring the best of Scottish cuisine to the screen. In Nick Nairn he has found a maverick talent who can fluently communicate the foodie creed without gushing. He has tumed the Braeval. a converted mill near Aberfoyle. into one of Scotland‘s top—flight restaurants. but Nairn remains down-to-earth in his approach to cooking. His irreverence is emphasised by the fast-cut style of the series which owes a debt to trendier American drama serials like ER. where the camera chases the action. Director Jim Shields describes the concept as ‘NYPD Cordon Bleu‘. which about sums up the frenetic pace of the kitchen action.

‘Cooking is about speed.‘ says Nairn. playing a frying pan across a flame that


would have more nervous cooks reaching for the fire blanket. ‘It is not a leisurely hobby. As much as possible should be left to the last minute to ensure maximum freshness from your ingredients. It should be hot and quick to seal the ilavour.‘ In another clip frorn the series. the chef turns hunter and heads off in search of a rabbit for his pot. It‘s in the spirit of this show that we see the bunny‘s demise. Nairn's motto might well relate to the necessity for broken eggs in the omelette-making process.

Occasionally the viewer has a chance to relax. however. as Nairn accompanies amateur chefs in the hunt for the best ingredients Scotland‘s larder has to offer. The format is similar to several of the new crop of cookery

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shows which reacted against the mumsy approach of Delia and Fanny (no. doughnuts are off today) which were tied to the studio like gel-haired TV chef(iary Rhodes. Nairn gets otit and about. but unlike Rhodes he tnanages to avoid patronising the locals. ‘I do a lot of cookery demonstrations and I realised I had this ability to communicate enthusiasm for cooking.‘ he says. ‘I come from a theatrical family so maybe it's something in my genes.‘

Television cooking shows have increasingly traded on the entertainment value of watching a

flamboyant chef. glass of wine in hand.

getting gently so/zled while the dinner sizzles. It‘s a million miles away from instructing the viewer step-by-stcp on

Flaming groovy: Nick Nairn in the kitchen

the making of chocolate crispy cakes. with a free laetshect to anyone who sends in an S.-\li. ll‘t/t/ Hunt’s! has taken entertainment o\er education to its logical conclusion. It would be almost impossible to follow a Nairn recipe from the screen (conveniently there‘s a tie in BBL book) but watching him in the kitchen does make you want to slop some l{.\tt‘a \‘irgin into a cast- iron pan and get fry ing. His approach is about inspiring. not instructing,

‘l didn't want to tell people how to cook whole tneals.‘ he .s;l_\ s. ‘lt‘s about the elements that go into making a dish. I want people to think “( )h. so that's how you get those tiobbly bits on the


Iii/(f Hum \/ s/trrlr on Wed l‘t'li /-I (III BBC}.


Ill .1 m 4 g > O < (I) 2 9 p. < > a: I.” U) m m

SUN TO FRI 6.00pm to 10.30pm ALL DAY SAT 12.00pm to 10.30pm


N The List 9-22 Feb 1996