Archive for the ‘Edinburgh Sikhs’ category

Tony Singh’s Oloroso: One of Edinburgh’s best-known places for fine dining

August 26th, 2011

He combines a proud Sikh heritage with a strong Scottish identity. At 39, Tony Singh is one of the most talked-about chefs in Scotland and a leading culinary entrepreneur. He was raised in a large Punjabi family in Edinburgh-where food and having meals together were always considered important.

And that’s what has also shaped his career in a big way. Singh, who owns Oloroso, an upmarket rooftop bar and restaurant in Edinburgh, first developed an interest in cooking when he saw his mother and grandmother preparing family meals and everyone else pitching in to help.

“The philosophy behind running my restaurant is getting the best products from the local markets and that is something which has come to me from my family kitchen. My mother and grandmother also helped in preparing meals at the gurudwara. My interest in Scottish and other global cuisine developed during my college years in Edinburgh. In the kitchen at my restaurants, I try to use Indian techniques and ingredients to create a fusion with Scotland’s cuisine,” says Singh.

His rooftop restaurant, which was opened in 2001, is now among the best known for fine dining in Edinburgh and offers a breathtaking panorama with enchanting views of the city’s glimmering lights. He has also made a foray into the informal bistro space with Tony’s Table. It’s the social aspect of eating and entertaining that makes them successful.

Singh, a proud Sikh who wears a turban, is the first chef-entrepreneur in the family. His father, Baldev Singh Kusbia, who runs a transport business in Edinburgh, was born in Lahore in 1944- and like many others-the family was forced to leave Pakistan in 1945. After an arduous journey, they reached a refugee camp in Delhi. In 1953, a part of the family, which included his grandfather and great-grandfather, boarded a ship to London from Mumbai, arriving in the UK in winter.

After receiving British citizenship in 1971, Tony’s father’s first job was to shovel coal in a steam engine. He has remained in the transport industry to this day, and is proud to be known as one of the first Sikhs in Edinburgh to drive a bus wearing his turban. “My father, who had a tough struggle in his initial years in Scotland, was very supportive when I started my restaurant. In fact, my siblings too were free to do what they wanted,” says Singh.

His journey of course was not easy and he has worked in many kitchens and pubs, including The Royal Yacht Britannia, Balmoral Hotel, the famous Royal Scotsman Train and Skibo Castle, before striking out on his own. He is a member of the Academy of Culinary Arts and has received a number of awards for his talents.

Singh depends heavily on the good relationship that he has with the suppliers and has known them for many years. He makes sure to use local produce in his restaurants. For Indian cuisine he imports the best ingredients. “Rich and heavy Indian cuisine is good in winter and some of the spices lend themselves to the European dishes,” he says. Having grown up in Edinburgh, which he considers a small city, Singh and his family have close ties with the local Sikh and Hindu communities.

“The Sikh families have lived here since the 1940s and are integrated in the local community. But we still maintain our own identity with many of us having done well in retail, food and property businesses,” he says.


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