The celebrity chef and TV star reveals the less than perfect educational record which has led to a successful career and friends in high places
Celeb chef Tony Singh on bringing back the YTS and his guilty pleasures
I grew up in Leith. It’s a free and independent state which Edinburgh is attached to. I love Leith, there’s a great mix of people and it’s so vibrant. It still has a strong sense of community. But my favourite place in Scotland is Loch Awe. The scenery is amazing and the seafood in the area is awesome. I used to skive off school a lot. If my kids are even late for school I get a text message. They can’t get up to anything, it’s a shame. When we skived we used to go to the museum a lot or to the Water of Leith. We didn’t do anything stupid.
I picked up some cooking skills from my mum, my granny and my dad.
But I trained at Edinburgh’s Telford College. I was on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS). I think they should bring them back. Not everybody is academic. I’d rather have someone with skill and world experience than somone with two or three degrees. Love of food makes a good chef. You get people saying ‘I don’t eat this and I don’t eat that.’ That’s no good, you really have to enjoy it. You’ve got to be generous, hard working, tenacious and really care. If I wasn’t a chef I’d be a playboy millionaire. I tried to train in it but the YTS course was closed when I applied. I’d have been the best. My ultimate comfort food is my mum’s chicken curry. That or a big bowl of stovies, with brown sauce and a fried egg. My guilty pleasure is a great big dirty kebab. The strangest thing I’ve ever eaten was giant snails. I was in Vietnam, but the flavour is just like snails
‘If I wasn’t a chef I’d be a playboy millionaire’
in France. They don’t serve them whole, there was a guy slicing them up because they are about the size of your hand. Keith Floyd was my hero. He was a very charming guy and very generous. He was amazing, a real bon vivant. My grandad is also my hero. I never met him but he had nothing and he brought the family over from India. I once had lunch with the Queen. She invited me so I went along and sat next to her at lunch. She is very funny, really sharp and witty. The food was classically French – we had guinea fowl with wild morels, melon and smoked salmon. I’d want Harvey Kietel to play me in the movie of my life. He would be on the button. Harvey Kietel with a tan and a turban. I’ve tried all kinds of sports. But I’m not really a joiner. I’ve recently done an Arctic walk. I did it for St Columus Hospice, but to tell you the truth I’ve not done it since I came back. I do like eating, drinking, reading and watching movies, nothing too energetic. I’m really busy running supper clubs from my house, so I get 12 people round and it’s just good Scottish hospitality with amazing produce and flavours from around the world. I’m running cookery classes from home too. I believe in something, but I don’t think it’s ghosts. I think the essence of a person goes somewhere. I think there are energies that fluctuate through time and space but I don’t think I’d call them ghosts. For more information about Tony’s supper clubs and cookery classes visit www.tonysingh.co.uk