Nick Nairn, restaurateur, entrepreneur and popular celebrity chef, chooses his favourite sites.

Self-taught Scottish chef Nick Nairn began his cooking career by starting up a local restaurant from scratch and serving the best local produce around. His passion, drive and great food led to him becoming Scotland’s youngest Michelin-starred chef. Nick remains a prominent spokesman on diet and he is a vocal champion of Scotland’s wonderful natural larder. Catch up with his opinions, recipes and chat on his blog and Facebook page.

Today he works from and teaches at the acclaimed Nick Nairn Cook School beside the beautiful Lake of Menteith in central Scotland. He has published 10 cookery books selling more than 500,000 copies from the Nick Nairn Cook School book to New Scottish Cookery and many others, available here.

Nick has made a succession of successful BBC television series, from Wild Harvest and Island Harvest to Nick Nairn And The Dinner Ladies, and now appears on Saturday Kitchen, The One Show and BBC Scotland’s Landward. He also won the first Great British Menu television show, the prize being to cook his roe venison dish for The Queen’s 80th birthday banquet. He is currently filming a new TV show with his chef pal Paul Rankin, in which they sail around the Scottish and Irish coastline cooking up local food and stories.

Nick also runs the Nick Nairn Consultancy and has a range of shortbreads, cereal and oatcakes. He is bringing out some meaty pies and haggis later this year, all using his own low-salt recipes with locally sourced produce. Nick has also put his name to the Kailyard restaurant at Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro hotel.


Piston Heads - I love cars. I really do. And this is a great car website. It’s basically fantasy car browsing – perfect for petrol heads like me. You get to imagine what you’d put in your ideal garage from a Bugatti Veyron to a classic 2CV. There are also some good articles. I could spend hours on here.

Epicurious - This is a really extensive US foodie site with some interesting recipe ideas. I use it as an everyday reference site, just to check up the odd recipe, or get some inspiration. I think it works because it feels well managed but has input from all corners - everyday folk, chefs, magazines, food writers. It lists recipes under loads of different categories from International (Ethiopian, Lebanese, Korean, Iranian – the whole world is covered) to seasonal, to ingredients – so it’s easy to navigate but takes you down some nice alleys. It feels open and interactive with systems for rating recipes or sharing your own.

8 Tracks - My Cook School manager introduced me to this fab internet radio website where people upload eight of their favourite tracks in the style of a mini album, sometimes with a short explanation of why they picked the songs. It’s a great way to tap into music that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. We tend to play it as our background music at home and you just tune in and out to the tracks that appeal to you. And of course you can upload your own music. It’s a bit like music Twitter.

Blipfoto - This is a photographic share site where you can upload photos for others to see – or just nose about at other people’s pictures. It’s pretty stylish with some stunning photography and some basic documentary photography, too. Its only rule is that every photo must have been taken on that day, so you get a unique picture of the world on any given day.

National Trust for Scotland - I’ve become a keen gardener since we started creating a new garden at home a couple of years ago (Mrs Nairn is an expert). We joined National Trust for Scotland to visit a few gardens for inspiration, for pleasure and for a few lovely days out with the children. It’s been more than worth it – and great value. We’ve found some stunning Scottish gardens hidden away up and down the country and the kids have loved it. Fave place so far is Crarae up on the West Coast. The website is great, too - clear and helpful.

Mark Bittman - This is a food blog by no-nonsense American food writer Mark Bittman. He’s a columnist for The New York Times magazine and wrote ‘How to Cook Everything’, but he was once a home cook, cabbie and teacher and is very down-to-earth. He strives to make cooking accessible and battles the ‘ascendance of “convenient” processed food’. Well, that strikes a chord with me and I enjoy flicking through his recipes and pictures. The food is not all brilliant - a lot of it’s not polished, just a personal take on a dish and he takes the photos himself, but that’s what makes the blog feel real and interesting.

7 June 2011