Paul Kitching: 'I worry about some of the chefs out there stuck in isolation'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

As we've all discovered in the past two and a half weeks, life in isolation isn't always easy. 

But Paul Kitching, chef and owner of 21212 Restaurant in Edinburgh is making the best of a bad situation. 

"There's me and Katie in this huge house, I see Kate for a few hours a day, we pass each other and go 'hey how're you doing,' I cook her a bacon sandwich in the morning. We have a great time."

"The beauty of being a head chef is that isolation is part of the repertoire. You have a great time with the guys, mess around, but there's always a distance because you spend more time on your own.

"I certainly wouldn't go out and drink with those bunch of reprobates," he laughed. 

In close contact with his team, the chef explained that for them, it's not so easy being apart. 

"You can sense the anxiety from them. It's past boredom now - one of them chappies, he's almost become a bit frantic because they're all out of their comfort zone. They can't all get together and drink coffee and chat - they're all finding it difficult." 

"I speak to them quite a bit. There are some I worry about, and some I know are going to be okay." 

A thought that haunts him, he said, is that some people are living in total isolation. 

"There must be people stuck in a situation, almost like a prison cell. You think, 'fucking hell.' If you've not got much money and you don't speak a lot of a language, you're a chef and you're Chinese or Italian, you're new on board, new in the city, you can't get home. You're a young kid, your mind's not as strong as an older person may be in that respect, that's going to build anxiety." 

For his part, the chef is focused on resisting the temptation to drink - a concern he is certain many others share. 

"That's my little anxiety at the moment, fighting not drinking alcohol." 

To help see him through, he's stocked up on alcohol free beers, DVD boxsets and books. 

"At least I'm keeping Amazon going, that's for sure," he laughed. 

Another means of staying busy and helping their suppliers stay afloat, the couple have started making food deliveries to neighbouring people in self-isolation - a service which they could see continuing after the lockdown.

The chef is optimistic about the future, despite the fact that, as he sees it, the UK made blunders as it entered the current crisis. 

"We have a track record of making a mess of things, turning it around and doing quite well. We'll be alright."

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 10th April 2020

Paul Kitching: 'I worry about some of the chefs out there stuck in isolation'