Flash-grilled: Colin Anderson

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Colin Anderson chef director of Brett in Glasgow on how he got his start in the industry

Related tags Chef Scotland Fine dining Glasgow Michelin

The chef director of Brett in Glasgow, Scotland, on how he got his start in the industry, what drink to pair with fish and chips, and his dream dinner party.

What was your first industry job?
I worked in the Colonsay Hotel. I'd spent all my school holidays working on the Colonsay fishing boat - we sold lobsters, crabs and langoustines to the chef and I got to know him. As soon as I'd finished my Highers at school he called and asked if I would come and work in the kitchen. The local produce we were using was amazing.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I think I'd probably have to be some sort of adventure leader or a ski instructor in the Alps! I have to be moving at all times.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Peter Gilmore (executive chef of Quay Restaurant in Sydney, Australia). Peter is a creative genius. He's almost completely self-taught but has a mind like nobody else when it comes to crafting dishes. His food is based around amazing and interesting produce that he often starts by trailing in his home garden. He's also a wonderful human being, who wants to leave the industry in a better place than it was before.

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Used spoons going into the spoon container on the pass!

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A guest asked for us to put a BBQ scallop on their honey mousse dessert. We gave them both individually and let them make the combination themselves!

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Seasonal produce cooked right with sauces that pack a punch.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Fortunately, I don't think I've had a bad review, but I did keep saying the silent "H" in Heirloom during a chat with food critic, John Lethlean after his meal at Cullen in Australia. He gave it a mention in his review, and I was horrified.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Be prepared to work hard, always be honest and learn from your mistakes, don't beat yourself up over them.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A grill, food just tastes so much better with a hint of smoke or fire. I think I'd really struggle to do a whole menu without it.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Grilled langoustines with garlic butter to start then a ribeye with some new potatoes and a tomato salad spiked with chilli and shallots.

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte always these days.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
The Ledbury blew me away back in 2010. It was my first two-star meal and I felt in awe of what was being cooked. 

What’s your favourite fast-food joint?
I love a cheeky Nando’s.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Big Mac! I'd be able to have a few extra holidays each year then!

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
MasterChef: The Professionals​. I think the formula they have is perfect. 

What’s the most overrated food?
Bananas - I really can't get into them when used in cooking. 

You’re a restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Big beards.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
David Attenborough and Louis Theroux. Watching Louis interview David over a meal would be an incredibly interesting experience!

What’s your earliest food memory?
Watching Duncan the fisherman smoke mackerel in his on his boat smoker when we'd literally just caught them. The nature to plate thing really blew my mind.

X or Instagram?
I use Instagram and not X, but I see the benefit of both.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Definitely a time when running in the mountains, the weather really turned, and my friend Gerry and I didn't have the right equipment for the change in weather. Nothing happened in the end but if one of us had been injured then I couldn't see a way out. The same day on the same run another guy did get injured and lost his life - It was a real wake up call for carrying the right equipment.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Always the hills! There is no better release than coming down fast and having to concentrate so hard on every step! 

What’s your tipple of choice?
Champagne, as far as the actual quality goes it's incredibly underrated. It's so diverse and can be drunk right through a meal - what's not to love?!

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
Fish and chips and a cup of tea.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
There are a couple that come to mind but it's probably our chicken dish. it's based on a dish I had in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. There, it was a whole chicken grilled over huge BBQ's then served with a fresh baguette, green salt, BBQ lime and a salad - so simple but it blew me away. We've taken the concept and refined it slightly:  we serve three pieces of chicken - It's the bone out wing stuffed with the bicep, the thigh is stuffed with the oyster and a piece of breast, we grill them all then rest in a soy, lime glaze. It's served with a chicken bone sauce split with smoked chicken fat and a bright green vibrant Thai basil oil. We serve it with some fresh Vietnamese herbs and finish the whole dish with a green chilli and lime salt. it's an umami bomb when all eaten together. 

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