How do you make mince ‘n’ tatties more exotic? It’s the sort of question Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala will be ready to answer at the book festival.
After their smash-hit BBC TV series, The Incredible Spice Men, plus a rave appearance at Lennoxlove Book Festival, the duo come to Melrose this June for their first appearance at the Borders Book Festival.
Between them, Singh and Todiwala have cooked the Queen’s Jubilee Dinner, won awards for sustainable food and been Scottish Chef of the Year, received an OBE and run their own successful restaurants.
They know exactly how to give Scottish and English cuisine a spicy boost – Shepherd’s Pie with ginger and cumin, coriander in coleslaw and tangy fish and chips anyone?
At their appearance in the Homecoming Scotland Marquee on the Saturday of the festival, Singh and Todiwala will talk about their cookery, their lives and what excites them and makes them laugh.
So far, a second series of the highly popular Incredible Spice Men has yet to be commissioned, but that doesn’t faze Leith-born Singh.
“The television programmes are great fun to make, although another series hasn’t been commissioned yet, but that’s fine, though, because I didn’t get into cooking to be a tv star,” said Singh, who plans to open his latest restaurant venture in West Linton in May, when speaking to The Southern for our exclusive book festival coverage.
He already knows the Borders well, having visited on numerous occasions when a youngster.
He told us: “We came down quite a lot with my dad when we were kids, so I know quite a few of the places. I’m really looking forward to appearing at the book festival – I think it’ll be great fun.
“It’s always exciting talking about something you love doing.”
For over 25 years, Singh has pushed the boundaries of culinary innovation, combining his Sikh upbringing with his love of Scottish produce.
His distinctive style has seen him secure membership of the country’s leading bodies including the Academy of Culinary Arts, the Craft Guild of Chefs, the Scottish Chefs Association and the Master Chefs of Great Britain.
And Singh feels Scots are now becoming much more adventurous in their cooking and less frightened of using spices.
He explained: “I learned a lot from my mum and dad who were both good cooks and were always trying different things.
“People are becoming more comfortable with spices, mainly I think because they are travelling more – that and the fact Britain is now very much a multicultural country.”
Singh, who has run several famous Edinburgh eateries in his time, including Oloroso and Roti, hails Scottish cuisine as amongst the best, especially when it comes to the quality of produce used.
“Our produce, such as seafood, is rightly renowned the world over. And the quality of our baking – it used to be said that Scottish women were born with a rolling pin under their arms, such was the fame of Scottish baking.”
z The Incredible Spice Men Homecoming Scotland Marquee, 3pm, Saturday, June 14. (£14, £12c)