What’s your favourite ingredient?
I’m a man of extremes. I love fiery spices, strong cheeses, full bodied seeds like fennel and aromatic herbs.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Mint choc chip ice cream – I know some people say it tastes like toothpaste, but I love it.
Tell us about your first food memory?
The first time I had lemon sorbet. I was four years old and in a café in Italy It was served inside a lemon. It was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen or tried. Even at that age I loved a bit of theatre.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?
Fhior – they’re so dedicated to using the freshest ingredients, with a focus on seasonality, and local provenance.
What would be your last supper?
A negroni followed by a Paesano pizza or a Mother India curry, all washed down with a pint and a glass of nice red wine. As it’s my last meal I can have as much as I like.
Starter or pudding?
Starter – I love something light like a sharing board of charcuterie, olives, bread and cheese.
Do you have any food hates?
I’ve tried but I just don’t like courgette.
What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?
For welcome drinks we’re having negroni sbagliatos (swap the gin for prosecco to make this version of a negroni) with cicchetti and arancini.
The starter would be my brother’s barbecued Scottish salmon cooked on his Big Green Egg barbecue. For the main, I’m doing my signature dish, tagliata (a medium rare sirloin steak, with garlic, rosemary, fresh lemon juice, rocket and parmesan). For dessert – apple and bramble crumble with vanilla ice cream. My mammy’s recipe.
I’d love to invite Alex Polizzi because she’d tell you what she really thinks, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence as I’m a big fan of both, and Graham Norton to keep the conversation going.
What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?
Italy. There’s variety in every region. So many local delicacies and there’s always something I haven’t tried yet.
Valentian Vermouth is planning a ‘centre for excellence’ in Melrose, see www.valentianvermouth.com