If you’re into fine dining in Edinburgh, Martin Wishart is probably one of the first names you’ll think of when you hear “Michelin star”. Having recently celebrated 15 years of holding a Michelin star at his eponymous restaurant at the Shore, we spoke to the man himself all about his achievements, his inspiration and why he loves Edinburgh. From the possibility of opening a new restaurant to discussing his favourite seasonal ingredients, we covered a lot in our 10 Minutes with Martin Wishart.
How does it feel to be celebrating 15 years of Michelin stars?
I never think about my Michelin stars, I just come in and work with my team on the menus and make sure that the customers are happy with our offer and the experience that we’re providing, and that’s what we focus on.
Where do you get your inspiration from, and has this changed over the years as you have become more experienced?
As I have established myself in my own business for sixteen, nearly seventeen, years, a lot of my inspiration has come from the seasons. I’ve just come from a meeting with one of my vegetable producers, looking at new vegetables coming in to us. There’s white asparagus, fresh peas, broad beans, different melons… a lot of my inspiration comes from the ingredients themselves as the seasons change.
I eat out a lot across different restaurants in places like Holland, Belgium and France and that provides inspiration for all aspects of the business; service, decor, presentation as well as food ideas. I get inspiration from my team as well, we always work together on creating new ideas.
I really like being close to the water. There’s an attraction, something quite peaceful about it.
What do you like about being situated down by The Shore, and how has the area changed since you opened back in 1999?
Previous to opening my restaurant here, I worked in Amsterdam for Albert Roux and The Shore here reminds me of my time spent there, with the river and the canals in Amsterdam both surrounded by gable end buildings. I like, and always have liked, The Shore area. There have been a lot of changes; a lot more people with the increase in housing, lots of businesses opened up, and lots of the existing businesses when I moved in are still here which is nice.
What do you like most about working in Edinburgh?
It’s a beautiful city. I travel a lot and I’m proud to say that Edinburgh is my home and I’m from here. Anyone that comes to visit, whether that’s friends or family from overseas, they always comment on how great the city is. There’s great architecture and I love the location close to the sea as well, and it’s great for not only all the festivals but also things like restaurants.
Over the years, has it become easier to settle into a routine or do you still enjoy challenging yourself and doing something different every day?
I’m not one for sitting still. Since opening the Leith restaurant I have expanded my business and now have four restaurants and a cookery school, and we’re looking to expand that further. We also do lots of consultancy, I have apprenticeship schemes in place and do a lot of work with other businesses, and we have an outside catering business which does events locally, nationally and overseas.
I personally love to be challenged. That’s the one of the great things about running a restaurant, no two days are really the same.
In my day-to-day I’m always looking to improve every aspect of the restaurant wherever is possible. We’re about to have a refurbishment in April. Training is ongoing all the time, whether that’s working with my team on new ideas coming onto the menu or discussing with the restaurant team about new ingredients that we’re about to use, new cooking techniques or descriptions of dishes; we need to be able to communicate through the front of house staff to the customer – more so nowadays as people are very interested in how the kitchen selects the ingredients and the techniques we use – so we as a team have to provide all that information.
The tourism in Edinburgh gives you the ability to showcase Edinburgh as a fine dining venue with great tasting menus.
So are you looking to expand by opening another restaurant in the city? Why do you think Edinburgh has such a great fine dining scene?
I would love to open another venue in Edinburgh, but it’s finding the right location to do it in and the right building. I’m in no rush to do it because I like to find the right thing first. It could be just round the corner or it could be another year away, who knows. And what makes Edinburgh so good for fine dining? Well, we are internationally visited throughout the year so you have a great cross section of different customers coming in to the city and I think that really helps.
Are there any particular ingredients you love working with?
I love working with Scottish creel caught langoustines and hand dived scallops from Orkney. I love working with all the game when it’s in season in Scotland, and I particularly like working with all the fresh seasonal vegetables as they come through. This is a great time of year, all the way through from late spring into early summer, it’s very inspirational as you’ve got a lot of different fresh flavours coming through.
Restaurant Martin Wishart
54 The Shore
Best for: an unforgettable fine dining celebration