"It's a real visceral f*****g thing that chefs have"

Alex South

Alex South


Nick Nairn, Peter McKenna, Caitríona Balfe, and Hardeep Singh Kohli discuss the influential women in their lives and whether this is the toughest period for hospitality they’ve ever experienced, in the debut episode of Grilled Live at The Gannet in Glasgow.

In this bonus episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen, Editor Cara Houchen was joined by a panel of guests including The Gannet’s Peter McKenna, Nick Nairn, Caitríona Balfe, and Hardeep Singh Kohl, who faced questions from a live audience, and of course the infamous wheel of truth.


Kicking the night off, Peter welcomed his guests to The Gannet explaining why he jumped at hosting the first episode of Grilled Live by The Staff Canteen.

"It's a brilliant opportunity to see friends, to meet new people, have a conversation, and speak about our industry, speak of what’s going on and of course eat some good food," he said.

Joining Peter was Scottish chef Nick Nairn, chef owner of Nick’s at Port of Menteith; Nick’s on Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan; and Nick Nairn’s Cook School.

Nick rose to chef stardom after he became the youngest Scottish chef to win a Michelin star in 1986, before presenting a number of cookery programmes including the original Ready Steady Cook.

Describing what it was like working on TV, Nick said: "I just kind of fell into this by accident. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I got the gig. I was really quite reluctant to do it because I didn't consider myself to be a TV chef, but suddenly you find yourself sucked into that thing where it's almost irresistible. It completely changes your life, it changes people's perception of you, and it's very difficult to maintain your equilibrium when that happens as quickly as it happened for me back in the day."

Also, on the panel was the Scottish broadcaster and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli, who has been friends with Peter since The Gannet opened its doors over a decade ago.

Revealing how the pair met, Peter said: "I met Hardeep not too long after I opened this restaurant. He came in and before he took a seat, he came down to the kitchen to check out who was cooking his food. We struck up a friendship and throughout the years we've done charity work, we've cooked together, and we've had a laugh and a drink and he's full of banter."

Actress Caitríona Balfe, famous for her role in the hit TV programme Outlander, was also on the panel, with Peter revealing that the pair went to school with each other while growing up in Ireland.

Describing how the two reconnected, Peter explained: "I got a phone call from Caitríona a week before we did our soft launch here and Caitríona was coming over to join the cast of Outlander."

"I was actually here at the soft opening. I heard there was free food and booze and I'm here again for the free food and booze,” joked Caitríona.


Throughout the night, guests were treated to a carefully curated menu from Peter and his staff.

Starting the evening off, attendees were served a range of snacks including; House white pudding, caramelised shallot purée; Cured sea trout & picked cucumber croustade; and Barra oyster, mushroom Mapo tofu.

As the night progressed, guests were also served Gigha halibut with a Vietnamese dressing; Wild garlic dumpling with an Isle of Mull Cheddar; and Aged Macduff beef, oxtail pie, with hen of the woods.

For dessert, Peter treated his guests with a Dark chocolate soufflé tart, with sea buckthorn, and crème fraîche ice cream.

Describing the menu, Nick said: "One of the things about great food is that the taste stays in your mouth for such a long time and it changes as you go. You get a bit of the brininess of the oyster, and then there's a little bit of tofu, and it keeps changing in your mouth, and that's the mark I think of great dishes."

Praising Peter’s skills, Caitríona said: "Peter has always been super impressive. I remember when he started cooking he was always been someone who was really into food and music and all those kinds of things, I think that's why we were always friends, but to see him progress like how beautiful this setting is and these little bits woven in, the creativity and the playfulness and everything is so beautiful."


During the podcast, the panel were asked to discuss a woman in their life that has influenced and inspired them to be where they are today.

Answering the question, Caitríona revealed that her mother is the biggest source of inspiration for her, thanking her mother for everything she did for her whilst growing up.

"My mum is incredibly inspiring and inspirational. You don't realise until you get a little bit older how much our mothers did for us. When I think about how she had five kids by the time she was 30 and did all of that, it's incredible,"explained Caitríona.

Nick revealed his wife was his biggest inspiration, admitting she’s helped him enormously over the years.

"My wife, and she's here tonight. I haven't been very good at wives over the years, so this is my third wife and she started working for me, and she quite rightly detested me for being a complete a***hole, but she is single-handedly responsible for making me less of an a***hole than I was when I met her," he revealed.


It wasn’t long before conversation turned to the state of the industry after Calum Montgomery, chef owner of Edinbane Lodge, asked Nick whether this is the toughest time he’s witnessed for hospitality.

Answering Calum’s question, Nick said: "I'd love to say that I have seen a tougher time but I haven't, this is an extraordinary set of circumstances that our industry has never really had to meet head on. We've got this perfect storm of problems with labour costs, of material costs, energy costs and we have all of these things as we move into recession."

Nick added: “I'm sure like many people in hospitality over the last couple of years, you have to question why we do it because it is so hard and it just seems to get harder by the day, but the reason that I'm still here, and I suspect why many people are still here in hospitality is because it's an incredible business."

"I think everyone has the passion for cooking. It's a real visceral f*****g thing that chefs have, that passion, that hunger, to create great food in great surroundings. I'm sixty-bloody-four, I should be retired by now but I still absolutely love our industry. It's such a unique kind of thing. I think we just need to keep the heart, keep the thing that makes us chefs, and we'll get through this," Nick said.

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 14th April 2023

"It's a real visceral f*****g thing that chefs have"