A Scottish Showman and a Chef: Tom Lewis

It is not everyday that you meet a showman and a chef rolled into one. 43 year old Tom Lewis Chef and Proprietor, Monachyle Mhor, is all this and more. Part of the Visit Scotland entourage to Mumbai, Tom regaled audiences with his culinary craftsmanship, albeit in simple, home style dishes.

Tom Lewis is a farmer at heart and a crusader for local home grown produce. Not surprising as he was 13 years old when his parents bought a 2,000-acre farm in the hills around Loch Voil and Loch Doine, Perthshire, in 1983 and moved their family up to Scotland from Wales. His ethos was to source as much produce as possible for his kitchen from the family’s farm and it wasn’t long before this self-taught chef began to attract attention for his, then, 34-seat restaurant with rooms.

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At the Visit Scotland event at  the Taj Mahal Mumbai, he made a simple porridge, an everyday breakfast staple. Easy to prepare, Chef Tom enjoys that every day he says, as most Scottish people do. He likes his food to be simple and uncomplicated. He is glad that the Scottish are going “back to simple, home-style  food.” He loves fresh stuff and longs for “the sun to come out and ripen the tomatoes.”

Scottish Salmon and Pearl Barley prepared by Tom Lewis

Next he demonstrated a delectable salmon dish with pearl barley and veggies. The dressings he made were unusual and yet easy to prepare. Never knew barley could enhance the taste of salmon to such an extent!

Always on the look out for new ingredients, in India, he has stumbled upon rock salt and plans to use that. Cinnamon is his favourite spice but he believes it should be used carefully. ‘Less is more’, is his mantra.

He loves the aroma of Scotch whisky, naturally and feels it can be paired perfectly with a lot of Indian food.

Food from Scotland suddenly acquired a new meaning for me that evening.  And it is a destination for a foodie like me. From Whisky Month to the seafood trail and Michelin-starred restaurants, there is a food and drink experience for all tastes and ages in Scotland and more so this year. 2015 is the Year of Food & Drink and Visit Scotland is highlighting the country’s ‘land to larder’ ethos and showcasing to visitors how the amazing Scottish land creates bountiful and delicious produce.

The packed programme of food-focused events and experiences such as the Big Burns Supper Festivals and the World Porridge Making Championships sound really interesting and inviting. Scotland is surely a destination to consider this year!

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