Real food for real people

Not content being Glasgow’s king of fusion, restaurateur Colin Clydesdale has a new project engaging the city with the riches of Scottish produce

Real food for real people

Colin Clydesdale / credit: James Morrison

Glasgow’s food culture has come a long way since 1971 when Ronnie Clydesdale opened Ubiquitous Chip, a restaurant whose visionary focus on local, seasonal produce prepared with love and imagination anticipated the slow food movement by more than a decade.

The Chip remains one of the city’s best-loved places to eat, and when Ronnie passed away in 2010 the torch passed to his son, Colin. His Stravaigin on Gibson Street has been pursuing an ethos of ‘think global, eat local’ for 21 years – the name means ‘to wander’, reflecting an eclectic approach to both food and wine. Another of Colin’s ventures is the Hanoi Bike Shop, opened in 2012 on Ruthven Lane, a Vietnamese ‘canteen’ that’s unambiguously authentic in its cooking while happily plundering Scotland’s natural larder for most of its raw material.

Once called ‘the man who brought fusion to Glasgow’, Colin makes a distinction between a global trend and what he sees as a real and identifiable west of Scotland movement. ‘It’s celebrating some of the best local produce in the world while cherry-picking global influences. Dozens of chefs around town are doing it – working with passion, imagination and curiosity – and it’s making our city a great place to eat.’

Now Colin believes it’s time to give something back to the community. He’s working with a group of other Glasgow food luminaries on an initiative that aims to engage, inspire and feed a bigger, wider section of the city’s population. ‘Today Glasgow has a genuinely exciting food culture, but there are huge areas of the city that just aren’t touched by it,’ he says. ‘Our aim is to get chefs and producers out there – in schools, in the street, at special events and pop-ups – reaching the kind of folk who don’t often eat out, and who aren’t even aware of what Scotland produces.’

If that sounds a bit like Jamie’s School Dinners, it may be no bad thing – Glasgow is one of Europe’s least healthy cities in terms of diet, and increasing exposure to fresh, natural food could be a worthy goal in itself. But the cooperative venture has a wider remit, and some ambitious long-term goals. Called Real Food, Real Folk, it will organise large-scale events, demonstrations, fairs and tastings. One of the first confirmed initiatives is Let’s Eat – a restaurtant festival and pop-up market, ‘like the kind of thing you’d see in France or Spain’ according to Colin – which is happening at SWG3 on 5-6th September 2015.


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