The Spice Master, we meet Tony Singh
Tony Singh is from Leith, Edinburgh and has worked in the restaurant industry for over 22 years. An Indian chef who strives to promote the innovative use of Scottish produce through his membership in the Scottish Chefs Association. He is also a member of the Academy of Culinary Arts, the Craft Guild of Chefs and is a Master Chef of Great Britain.
Over the years he has opened an number of restaurants of various styles, written recipe books and become a TV Chef appearing on the BBC’s Great British Menu, The Incredible Spice Men: Todiwala and Singh and A Cook Abroad.
When he joined us to give a master class in spice we took the opportunity to sit down for a chat…
What was your first food memory?
Picking stones and bits of wood out of lentils with my mum and my Gran and my aunties
When was your “aha” moment, when you first realized you wanted to be a chef?
I think it was helping make Lungar – a free communal meal a corner stone of the Sikh faith. I must have been 10 or 11 but I was going to be a chef from then
What do you think you would have become if not a chef?
Oh, I always wanted to be a play boy millionaire! I don’t really know I was lucky to have started at 16 and not looked back.
What are you favourite ingredients?
I love sea food any and all dry fresh, pickled , salted anything and of course spices they are the quickest and best way to add colour and dram to all foods
Do you prefer to use recipes or improvise?
Improvise unless it's pastry
What do you think is the most underrated dish?
Soups. I think people just think it’s a easy filler for a menu rather than making it a show stopper - right at the start. It just needs time and TLC and you can have very sexy garnishes with your soup
What is your favourite kitchen gadget or utensil? ,
It has to be my knifes. I love them all and have had them for a while they are well loved and worn, you could say an extension of my fingers
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received from a chef friend or mentor?
One of the best is ‘never throw away flavor’, so care how you trim produce, butcher meat and fish and even after you can use the off cuts and bones or whatever to make stocks to enhance the flavour of a dish
Do you prefer to eat at home or eat out?
Depends if I must do the washing up!
What’s your best kept food secret?
I would say the use of vinegar like a tincture to sharpen sauces and soups, stews casseroles , it’s a very old fashioned technique but used properly it adds so much to your dish. It can be a counter point, bring out the flavors of the stocks and sauce and if you used strongly flavored vintages it adds another layer of taste to the dish
What are the key ingredients for a successful cookery class?
It has to be fun fun fun and relevant to the pupils
What do students enjoy most about learning to cook?
I think it’s walking away with new knowledge they can give with friends and family around a shared table that they can pass on to them as well
Thank you so much Tony. We look forward to welcoming you back to SEASON soon!