Setting up The Honours – an interview with Paul Tamburrini

Martin Wishart and Paul Tamburrini are launching The Honours, a brasserie in the heart of Edinburgh. Together, they are hoping to make an exciting space with excellent food. Where Wishart’s is formal fine dining, this new venture will be informal, relaxed and child friendly and the quality of food and service will be high. I spoke to Paul about the excitement of planning, researching and opening a new restaurant.

Martin Wishart brings producers to his new venture.

Martin Wishart brings producers to his new venture.

There has been quite a lot of buzz about The Honours since the restaurant was announced. Martin Wishart is an Edinburgh institution: his restaurant adds Michelin glamour to the capital and his cook school shows us that that level of cooking only looks easy. On may 31st, 2011, he announced his latest venture, The Honours, a brasserie that he’s starting in partnership with head chef Paul Tamburrini.

A brief biography

Paul Tamburrini, head chef at The Honours.
Paul Tamburrini, head chef at The Honours.

Paul Tamburrini has worked with Wishart in the past – the two have knows each other for 12 years. Tamburrini trained with Marco Pierre White at L’Escargot in London for a year before joining Martin Wishart in 1999. He has worked at a number of well-known Scottish restaurants.

Most recently, Tamburrini was head chef at the relaunch of the restaurant at One Devonshire Garden in Glasgow where he started in 2006. His time at One Devonshire Garden saw him nominated for Hotel chef of the Year repeatedly and even heard him discussed in terms of winning Glasgow’s first Michelin star.

The venture

In November 2010, Wishart contacted Tamburrini with a business idea, in January he bought the restaurant (the unit that used to be Tony’s Table) and in February 2011 Wishart and Tamburrini announced that they would work together. In June 2011, when I spoke to Tamburrini, he had finally left One Devonshire Gardens. The move was announced in February but finding a replacement has not been easy and Paul stayed until he could hand over the helm to the right successor. Meanwhile, planning for the new restaurant has continued apace.

Wishart and Tamburrini travelled as far as Singapore to visit some of the restaurants that are their inspiration for The Honours. The new restaurant will be a Parisian-style brasserie, a relaxed, welcoming place with great food. Wishart and Tamburrini hope it will be as buzzy and busy as some of the restaurants that inspire them, such as Wolfgang Puck’s CUT in Singapore and Daniel Boloud’s Daniel in New York.

The Honours will seat 60 and there’s room for another 25 between the bar and the lounge. Wishart and Tamburrini have high hopes for the bar and have a barman who has worked in New York, a place where customers are very picky indeed. The Honours will be able to deliver a perfect cocktail as well as excellent food.

Good suppliers

Tamburrini explained that the saying “you’re only as good as your suppliers” is true. The quality of the food on your plate is a reflection of the skills of the chef and a good chef treats his or her ingredients with respect and lets them shine. Ingredients can’t shine if they’re not good and for good raw materials you need good suppliers. The honours will serve dishes that put three or four elements on the plate, avoiding overly fuzzy dishes and allowing the quality of the ingredients dazzle.

Chefs don’t just cook – they also find and build relationships with suppliers. Wishart and Tamburrini have both been in the industry long enough to have solid relationships with good producers and they are bringing many of them to The Honours. Paul mentioned that chef’s relationship with suppliers is one of the things that has changed over the last five or so years. Previously, finding local producers was less important – anything you wanted could be bought from France. The focus has changed. Scotland and the U.K. has a lot of good raw materials and restaurateurs are increasingly seeing the value of buying local. Of course, there are some ingredients you cannot get locally and then you souce it from abroad.

Can’t wait to get into the kitchen

I spoke to Tamburrini on June 23rd when the very last of the restaurant fitting was being completed. “We get the keys back from the contractors tomorrow. I can’t wait to get back into the kitchen.” To the chef, the kitchen is as important a space and the dining room. Pride of place in the kitchen is a high-tech stove from Grenoble, designed to Wishart’s and Tamburrini’s specifications. It is made to be as green as possible and there will be no gas in this kitchen. There will, however, be a Josper Grill, a charcoal burner that Tamburrini and Wishart are convinced, after eating steaks cooked on one, is the best tool for cooking steak.

The two chefs agree more than they disagree. Although Tamburrini has been away from Wishart’s kitchen for seven years, the two still understand each other’s cooking. When preparing the menu, each chef suggested a list of dishes which where then tried and discussed. The resulting menu combines their two styles which has excited the people lucky enough to be the tasting panel. The process has gone smoothly and it sounds as if the two had a good amount of fun working together.

Opening night

After many months of planning and hard work, The Honours opened on July 14th, 2011.

The last few years has been a difficult one for most industries and the restaurant trade has not been exempt. It is encouraging to see restaurants of this caliber opening up in Edinburgh. Wishart and Tamburrini have done their research and are experienced at all aspects of running a restaurant. These days, people won’t come unless you have something to offer them. The business has turned away from being about celebrity chefs to being about customers again. Wishart and Tamburrini want to give their customers excellent food in a relaxed environment and their combined experience should help ensure that their venture takes off.

The Honours
58a Castle Street
Edinburgh, EH2 3LU
Tel: 0131 220 2513
Email: info@thehonours.co.uk
@TheHonours

Photos by Cate Gillon, tel: 07894 664 288, email: photography@categillon.com

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Saturday Night at The Honours Restaurant, Edinburgh | Edinburgh Foody

  2. Pingback: Surf and Turf – Saturday at The Honours | Edinburgh Foody

  3. Definitely going there next time I’m in Edinburgh.

  4. Pingback: Martin Wishart's new venture – The Honours, Edinburgh | Edinburgh … | Top Cooking Review

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