Meet the Edinburgh chef who swapped a Blackpool chippy for a Leith bistro
From frying fish in a Blackpool chip shop to heading up one of Edinburgh’s hottest restaurant, the head chef of a Leith bistro has lifted the lid on collaborating with a top whisky brand and his love affair with Edinburgh.
Nearly 12 years ago, Kamil Witek, now chef patron at Aurora on Great Junction Street, finished high school in Poland and headed to the UK to make some pocket money before university.
He ended up in Blackpool in a chippy, and despite hating it, the experience sparked a fiery love for cooking that set him on a career path that saw his restaurant named as best newcomer in the Edinburgh Restaurant Awards last year.
He then moved to London and was lucky to land a job with an inspiring chef, Paul Rowan, whose patience and generosity Kamil credits with giving him a head start on his future. “They paid me to go to cookery college and I started developing my skills more and more,” says Kamil.
Kamil then went back to Poland to university, during which time he opened a street food truck before itchy feet got the better of him again.
A friend suggested he visit Edinburgh and after four trips he decided to stay for good.
“There was something dragging me to the UK and a friend who lived in Edinburgh said, ‘Come here’ – that was six years ago.
“I started at The Apartment then moved to Salt in Morningside – it was my first proper head chef position with seven people in the kitchen. We had so much freedom, it was such good fun. I was then nominated to be chef of the year, it was absolutely incredible.
“Right now I am the happiest person in the world. I turn the key in the restaurant door every morning knowing this is my world – it’s so good.”
And showing his ambition and passion for interesting but seasonal dishes he jumped at the chance to challenge himself to take part in a tie-up with Tullibardine whisky house to create a menu inspired by the single malt.
Kamil’s tasting menu encapsulates the essence of Tullibardine in each dish – from Highland Wagyu beef, to Tullibardine-smoked fish prepared by Perthshire fishmonger, George Campbell & Sons.
The same water used in the whisky-making process at the distillery, sourced from Perthshire’s Ochil Hills, has also been used in each recipe.
“Aurora’s entire concept is based on local, seasonal and unprocessed values and we’ve really enjoyed the journey of working with a brand that shares this outlook.”
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