Carina Contini: Capital huge inspiration for chefs

Carina Contini.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Carina Contini. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Carina Contini is one of Edinburgh’s most celebrated restaurateurs and joint owner of Centotre and The Scottish Café Restaurants.

When I hear the words ‘This Is Edinburgh’, the first thing that springs to mind is: The Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. A world class arts festival that puts us on the world map every time.

What makes me particularly proud to work in the city is: Part of the reason we pitched for the catering contract at The Scottish National Gallery was our love of the galleries. The Scottish Collection in particular has inspired our cooking over the last five years.If you have a few spare moments, take the time, as it’s free entry, and savour the beauty of our Scottish paintings that capture the heritage of our food nature in a very unexpected way.

Edinburgh has more restaurants per head of population than any other British city, what makes Edinburgh such a gastronomic hub: Scotland’s capital city is blessed with access to the whole of the country’s abundant natural larder. Fish from Perterhead, lamb from the Borders, raspberries from Perth, cheddar from Mull – it’s all accessible within 24 hours and it’s a joy to be able to showcase all the riches of our country. The Capital does a good job at showcasing it.

4. What’s your ideal Edinburgh culinary experience: I was 18 and was allowed to go to Princes Street Gardens and watch the International Festival Fireworks with my big brother and all his friends. Victor, my future husband, happened to be in the party. We had a Gregory’s Girl moment – dancing while looking up at the fireworks. Very special but what made it even better was the picnic we’d brought earlier. Homemade soup in flasks, home-boiled ham rolls and cakes. Picnic in Princes Street – nothing better.

5. A perfect day in Edinburgh ends with: A walk up to the top of Castle Hill on to the Esplanade - and watch the city below sparkle.

6. As a local; my hidden gem that most visitors to Edinburgh may miss is: Eddie’s Seafood Market in Marchmont. Eddie is an old friend and always makes me feel welcome. Fresh lobster from the tank or squid cleaned in front of your eyes straight off the local Scottish boats. Fresh and fabulous.