Christmas cooking is stressful enough at home, but spare a thought for those catering for 30 at a time. Celebrity chef NICK NAIRN says the art is in the planning. Words: Barry Shelby

The month of December rs undoubtedly the DUSIESI of the year for most restaurateurs. Whrle EuCratsve, it's also a oerrod that N'ck Na rn looks towards wrt'n a Irttle t'eDlOaIlOD at hrs eponymOusly named restaurant Ill Glasgow The rarsed expectations of festive-seasOn drhers s a certatnTy a challenge to meet. But add to that the stress 0‘ large partres and yOu have the potent a! ‘or mertoow n amrd al' the Chr'stmas cheer

'No brzgade, no krtCneh rn the word, can produce 80 oates of fooo In a ha'f hour and have EVEP'ythrng be fme,’ Narrn says. He oescnbes brg games as “oeasts' ful' of ’nertra' But tamrng them vs a

matter of t mrng .and not orrer-workrng staf‘ with s mu’taneoas orders 'lt’ you get

two or three org partes rn one

"rg"t and orders come :nto the krtchen at the same tme, tn. hg to out out 25 starters to one party and twenty to a"ot".er doesht grve you: the time and olay yOu war“. You end so rushrng thrngs'

As the celeor ty che‘ also worrres that bo:ste'0us grouos ca" d;st'u'o other deners, he has the uxu’y of gr\."‘g partres a D":\’a’.€ functrOn room 'Then they can do "atever they Izke,’ he says ‘They can get therr kt off and dance on top of tne tables as far as we’re concerned'

'They can get their kit off and dance on top of the tables as far as we're concerned.’

Narrn’s approach to the festrve drnrng season drffers from many peers rn the rndustry and he eschews specral menus. ’We make up the menus as we go along and i don't lrke do:ng them too far rn advance,’ he says. So whrle he rs thrnkrng about hrs speCral Chrrstmas Eve and Hogmanay meals, he wrll not deCrde preCrsely what he wrll serve untrl much closer to the date. Because he warts to hear what supplrers suggest as the freshest seasonal produce, he adds, ’For me to crystal gaze two months ahead rs gurte drffrcult.'

As t'or Chrrstmas Day at home, Narrn reduces hrs stress levels when it comes to the famrly lunch by lettrng others take charge at the cooker. Thrs year hrs only reSDOnSrbrMy rs making the sauce for the beef. ln general, he says, :t’s a smooth operatron' ’The trrck rs pre-plannrng’. Buy and preoare what you can rn advance. ’Surely Chrrstmas :S the trme for relaxrng, enroyrng yourself and not gettrng rnto a tzzzy,’ he says. 'Pe0ple often try too hard and try maybe too many thrngs.’ Those rn need of soecrfrc advrce on how to whrp up a Chrrstmas meal trad'tsona' or alternatrve mrght conSrder enrollrng in a class at hrs recently opened cookrng school on the shoes 0‘ the Lake of lvlonterth. The 'stress-t’ree’ Chnstmas cookrng course, he confesses, ’rs provrng the most poourar one'.

At the restaurant, the festive perzod doesn’t end wrth 25 December, not by a :ong shot. So after a day off, it’s back to work The week between Chrrstmas and Hogn‘anay poses oartrcular problems as supplrers and d25UrCuiOrS ‘l-(e many of us\ prefer to take those days


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off. ‘lts frne up untrl Christmas Eve and we can get the supplres,’ Narrn says. ‘Then the vans stop runnrng to the market and nothrng rs comrng up from down south for a few days.’ Even then, there rs the possrbrlrty that the ’fresh’ produce has been Slttlng around for a few days rn a warehouse or shuttered market. 'You have to be very careful about your orderrng and make sure you have some stand-by stuff,’ he says ’I hate usrng frozen food.’

After New Year’s Eve, Narrn’s restaurant rs dark for a week. 'There rs a huge Sigh of relref,’ he says. ’lt’s great to get rt over and done wrth. , . Thank God it’s over for another year.’ (Barry Shelbyl

Information about classes in Christmas cooking at Nairn’s Cook School is available on 01877 385 603 or at www.nairnscookschoo|.com.

Nick Nairn has the ingredients for a stress-free Christmas

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at Hydepark Corner

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( lll'\l\llllll\ |,Ull( ll {14.05 11th to 15th December and 18th to 22nd December inclusive

12pm - 5pm

(Ill'\l\i lllli\ l)illlll it [i |‘l.‘lS 11th to 15th December and 18th to 22nd December inclusive

5pm - 10pm

at Hydepark Corner

Lacefield Quay 154 hydepark Street Glasgow GB 88W Tel: 0141 221 2822 Fax: 0141 221 2888 Email: axiom@icscotland.co.uk Website: www.icscotland.co.uk/axiom

l9 Oct—2 Nov 2000 THE “ST 105