Chef’s Special: Paul Kitching, 21212, Edinburgh

SLTN finds out the latest from Paul Kitching of 21212 in Edinburgh


How long have you been in the industry and how did you start?

I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years. I started as a pot wash in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I loved it, I still do love doing the pots and mopping. 

What’s your career highlight so far?

Gaining both my Michelin stars in two separate restaurants – Juniper in Manchester and then Restaurant 21212 in Edinburgh.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Confidence probably. I was a very nervous chef. It was overcome by stepping back and believing in myself and the reputation I had gained.

How would you describe your restaurant and its food?

A beautiful Georgian town house on the magnificent Royal Terrace. My food is very personal to me and more impacted by the building. For it’s the building that, I feel, dictates the food’s style: “classic but cool”.

Describe your staff.

My staff are wonderful; a nicer bunch of guys you could never meet but… no one listens anymore. They’re still great people!

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?

Haggis, haggis and more haggis. It never leaves the menu!

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?

I never cook at home. No kitchen, pots or pans, no oven, microwave or even toaster. No crockery, kettle or stove. Just an empty space. Perfection!

Is there any food you dislike?

I don’t dislike, but I’m not a fan of butternut squash, sweet potato or pumpkin; and strangely enough every bowl of soup served in Edinburgh will incorporate at least one of these odd ingredients.

What’s your favourite wine?

Wine? Not interested at all. I don’t drink it or use it ever in the kitchen. A magnificent subject, topic, ingredient but not, unfortunately, for me!

What makes a good chef?

Time. A long time.

What’s a top tip every chef should know?

See answer above and for goodness sake listen!

Who do you admire in the industry and why?

I admire any of my chefs that turn up every day bright, positive, alert and smiling.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had and where was it?

The Bigg Market, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – boiled local crab from the shell, from a kiosk. Fished, caught and cooked by a guy who must have been 95 then.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?

Andrew Neil, Kirsty Wark, Emily Maitlis and Laura Kuenssberg. We would go to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, then on to Five Guys and talk politics, food and Scotland.