Fred Berkmiller is chef proprietor of two Edinburgh restaurants: L’escargot bleu on Broughton Street and L’escargot blanc on Queensferry Street. Both offer authentic French cuisine created using produce from local suppliers. The eateries have won several awards over the years, including the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Award for Scottish sourcing in 2017.
How long have you been in the industry and how did you start?
I started training at the age of 14 as a young chef in France.
What’s your career highlight so far?
I was awarded Scotsman Food Pioneer at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards in 2016.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges was opening L’escargot bleu. I don’t know how I did it, but it took two years.
How would you describe your restaurant and its food?
Classical French; easy going, informal yet with style, and a bit like me – lots of character.
Describe your staff
Easygoing, hard working and knowledgeable.
What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?
Katy Rodgers Crème Fraiche.
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
Is there any food you dislike?
Mainly any food that looks far too good and disappoints you when you take a mouthful.
What’s your favourite wine?
Morgon, Cotes du Py Jean Foillard, 2013.
What makes a good chef?
A chef that knows how to cook good simple food and who enjoys eating.
What makes you laugh in the kitchen?
Who do you admire in the industry and why?
Pierre Koffman. He’s kept his three Michelin star status for many years, creating such easy and simple cooking. Simplicity is very hard to achieve and maintain.
How do you relax outside of work?
I cook a lot and enjoy time at the table – mine or others!
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had and where was it?
My best meals very often are the simplest dishes but accompanied with best friends. Friends plus a great ingredient plus great wine is the best meal.
Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?
I’d go to my house in France and would invite all my close friends and family.