Head chef keeps it fresh and avoids the grease

Steven Frei, head chef at Aberdeen’s 210 Bistro, will be going easy on the grease as we head towards some fresh summer dishes.

What’s your favourite July dish?

Definitely something on the barbecue. There’s this lovely little dish we’ve done before – a grilled tuna steak with spiced roasted cauliflower and a mango salad with a yoghurt dressing. It’s a really nice, summery dish.

What kind of food don’t you like?

I’d probably say deep fried food, which is quite a generic term. I certainly don’t want to say anything against bar food, though. I think the term is greasy food – overly greasy food, it’s too much for me. Something like a deep fried platter.

What’s your star ingredient?

I love coriander because it’s so versatile and aromatic. You can put it in a salad and it gives a really punchy aroma. You can also pop it into a soup – put in a little bit of cumin, some coriander and a tiny bit of chilli so that there’s no real heat, just a little warmth. Coriander is also amazing in stir-fries – irrespective of the flavour of your stir fry, just finish it off with coriander. Putting coriander into guacamole is a good one as well.

What local produce do you use?

We’ve got two seafood suppliers. Gourline and Granite City Fish. Gourline is based just south of Aberdeen. The guy there has his own boats and goes out to catch scallops and other shellfish. Our other supplier is two minutes up the road and catches all our white fish in Peterhead for us. The Artisan Grower gives us all of our micro-greens and micro-herbs, and our butcher is local as well. He’s based about a mile and a half away from the restaurant and gets all of his meat from Scotbeef or from local farmers. A couple of months ago we had mutton on the menu that came from a farm just outside of Aberdeen. We try and use as many local suppliers as possible; our furthest away supplier is in Turriff, everyone else is within a 10-mile radius.

Who’s your favourite celebrity chef?

There are two that I really like. I think what Tom Kitchin can do with Scottish produce is amazing. At the same time I really enjoy Italian cuisine. While I don’t always like what he does, I love the style of Jamie Oliver’s food. He’s able to take a dish and completely transform it. Sometimes I get a bit bored of having to do the same stuff all the time, so being able to put a twist on a dish and make it new is something I admire.

What’s your greatest triumph in the kitchen?

The thing I’m most proud of is seeing someone I’ve trained excel. I’ve currently got a young chef with me who started off as a commis chef, and seeing her learn and improve is great – she’s now my sous chef. It’s the small things, it’s knowing the effort you put in really means something to someone.

What’s been your biggest kitchen disaster?

We once had a function that had fish cakes as a starter, and bubble and squeak as part of the main course. It was really busy that night, so to speed up the process we breaded both the bubble and squeak and the fish cake. We accidentally mixed them up and served the bubble and squeak instead of the fish cake, and the fish cake instead of the bubble and squeak. It was all rather embarrassing. No one actually said anything to us during the starter. It wasn’t until the main course that somebody noticed. That was definitely my worst moment.

Click HERE to read more about the 210 Bistro.