Q&A: Fred Berkmiller – L’escargot Bleu & Blanc
Owner talks festive food as Christmas approaches
How does your restaurant change in look and atmosphere in December? What effect are you hoping for?
Both of our restaurants have put on our Christmas fur so we're extremely warm and winter friendly for the wintry season.
What are the challenges in catering for larger groups and parties? What works? What doesn't work?
Larger parties aren’t a challenge at all. We're really used to it and if I’m honest the staff and I love it when we’ve got larger parties in as there is a real buzz in the atmosphere.
Anything new and exciting likely to be on your December menu this year?
Gartmorn Farm in Perthshire have raised our very own turkeys this year and we have lots of other goodies including two cross Wagyu-Aberdeen Angus that are getting ready especially for us this Christmas.
Any top tips for cooking for a big group at home?
The best tip would be to do as much preparation as possible ahead of the day! Make sure that everything that can be cooked beforehand is cooked. Your sauces are ready, your desserts are complete and all of your vegetables are peeled, prepped and cooked ready to re-heat. Keep the last minute workload to a minimum and make sure you sit down with your family and guests to enjoy the precious time you have with them.
OK, a stalk of fresh brussels sprouts has just arrived in the kitchen. What do you do next?
Make sure you get the smallest brussels sprouts as possible. You’re looking for a bright green colour and for them to be as fresh as possible. Store them in a cold compartment of the fridge until you're ready to cook. To cook, take them off the stalk and remove the first few leaves, cut the bottom with a sharp knife and wash them in plenty of cold water. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and put the sprouts in to boil for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Cool them down in iced water, drain and reserve until ready to use and serve.
What's your favourite day of the Christmas season? What are you likely to be eating?
I dont have a favourite day during the Christmas season. Every day is an exciting day, both restaurants are very busy which is good, my family is in good spirits and it’s time to catch up with family and friends that I haven’t managed to see all year! I spend lots of evenings out in pubs and restaurants eating meal after meal of hearty warm winter food. If we’re lucky we may even get to see some snow! I don’t usually plan what I'll be cooking for Christmas unless it is something very special and needs ordering in advance. I love hanging around near the markets and buying anything that excites my tastebuds! Last year, we had a Poularde de Bresse, the world famous chicken and Wagyu Beef from Blackford farm on the menu ... those two were my favourite, no doubt I will find something new to love this year.