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30 Minutes With...

Rikki Pirie, Sea Salt + Sole, Dyce, Aberdeen

How did you get into the industry?

I actually began my working life at the Ashvale restaurant when I was 15, making the chips. I loved the environment so I enrolled in professional cookery qualification at Aberdeen college and spent the next 20 years working across Scotland in some top establishments. The chance to own my own fish and chips shop presented itself five years ago and I thought "why not?"

What’s you favourite food?

I love most foods including fish and chips of course but I really love a good homemade curry. I love mixing spices and herbs and slow cooking meat to create wonderful flavours.

Is there a food you won’t eat?

I’ll eat pretty much anything but I’m not sure I’d be keen on eating insects. It’s big in some parts of the world but eating cockroaches is too far for me. I’m planning on visiting Asia and

Australia in January so might give it a go, but I'll need a drink first.

Where have you had the best fish and chips?

I had incredible haddock and chips at Tailend St Andrews earlier this year. We were needing some time off after a busy few months and the meal with my family with a few drinks was just what the doctor ordered. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

What side do you have with your fish and chips?

I’ll always try homemade tartare sauce as most places seem to have their own recipes for this. I’m not huge on mushy peas or curry with my fish and chips, but I’ve tried dill pickles which are amazing.

If you could open a fish and chip shop anywhere, where would it be?

100% would be Ibiza, it's my favourite place on earth.

Do you have a favourite restaurant?

I took my wife Gillian to the Fat Duck in Bray for her 40th birthday and the food was mind-blowing. It was the first time I’ve been left speechless at the quality of food.

What is your go-to drink?

I’ve just opened a new cafe, which means coffee on tap and that’s heaven for me. Alcohol-wise, it always has been and always will be Jack Daniels.

What dish reminds you most of your childhood?

We used to have mince and tatties every week growing up, it was my mum's go to dish. It’s perceived as a winter dish up here, but we had it all year round and never got fed up of it. It’s great to see my kids love it now as much as I did when I was their age.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

I’ve got a sweet tooth and love any kind of chocolate. I actually crave it badly when I’m working long hours and will drive to 24 hour supermarkets for a fix.

What’s been your weirdest food combination?

I’ve had macaroni cheese with white truffle and lobster. It was a bit weird having such a simple dish but with such luxurious ingredients alongside. It came with a really intense truffle purée and the waitress shaved fresh truffle at the table over the dish and didn’t hold back. It really was amazing.

What one piece of equipment would you love to purchase for your shop?

We have an impressive range of equipment in our shops, from vac pac machines to water baths and high speed ovens. I don’t like missing football so it would be great if they could design a frying range with digital screens that picked up live football!

If you could have anyone join your team who would it be?

Calum Richardson from The Bay in Stonehaven. It would be great to be taller and slimmer than someone for a change!

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