Wednesday 2 July 2014

The Mark of Modernity - Mark Greenaway at the Foodies Festival!

As we take a seat in the corner of the Restaurant Mark Greenaway dining room, both proudly clutching our iPads, Mark is keen to stress something straight away, setting the scene for our whole chat. 'Fanny Cradock was way before my time by the way, I'm only a young lad!'. Mark is modern in every way - in the way he cooks, the way he uses ingredients, and in the way he interacts with people who love his food. 'The Foodies Festival is a great chance for me to meet my customers, and potential new ones! Generally chefs are kept hidden away downstairs with the windows locked, so it's a great opportunity for me to show what I'm about'. Despite the modernity, does Mark have more in common with Fanny Cradock and food demonstrations of the past than even he realises? 'I don't look good in a ballgown though' he insists.

Fanny Cradock loved to interact with her adoring audience, but really at a distance. It was all more aspirational than inspirational. She'd encourage people to write to her mainly so that she could write back and correct them for doing something 'wrong'. That's the reason the dish failed, not the perfectly correct recipe. These days, it's all much more immediate with twitter and blogging - both embraced by Mark as an essential way to build an online 'word of mouth'. 'We encourage it, I think differently from other chefs, we are proud of what we do and if bloggers want to help spread that message and recommend the restaurants, that's great for us'. However Mark is also quick to point out errors in blogs if he spots them, 'I'll direct message people and say, great blog about Bistro Moderne, really positive review, thanks, but you didn't have Beetroot purée it was actually artichoke'. I reckon Fanny would never be off Twitter.

Showing off to an audience was something Fanny simply couldn't resist, and the bigger the better. Famously in Edinburgh at the Usher Hall she begged the management to let in an additional 500 eager spectators to stand at the back, demand was so high to see her in action. Mark's favourite kind of venue is one full of people too - 'if there's an audience there, I'll do it! I like venues with loads of standing room round the sides, cram them in! Like Fanny, I'm a bit cheeky and I like a bit fun!'. That's where the similarities end though - Mark leaves showing off for his restaurants. At demonstrations the aim is to inspire those watching to go home and give it a go for themselves, adding in some tricks and secrets he's taught on the day. Oh, and then tweet him a picture of the finished dish. Just make sure you describe it correctly!

So what innovations will Mark be inspiring us with at Foodies in Edinburgh this year? 'It's impossible to say, it'll be something seasonal for sure, always seasonal, something to showcase Scotlands sensational produce and something simplified from my restaurants. It'll be something which is me, something different from all the other chefs who are there. Demand for seasonal produce is helping to drive up the quality of food in Scotland, and initiatives like #EatDrinkDiscoverScotland help, I'm proud to be part of that'. Mark is hoping to see hordes of people scribbling notes while he demos, and always likes to hang about after the show for a chat - as long as it's about food! 'Don't ask me about cars or pictures, I know nothing about those things, but food, my restaurants and produce are all fair game'. Mark will be cooking one dish and taking time to do it well. 'Cooking in itself is not hard, it's putting it all together that's the hard part, making it all taste great and working together as a dish'. 

There's no room for assistants on the day either, they'll be busy keeping the restaurants going. 'I don't shout at my team like Fanny did, if I need to shout at them then I'm obviously employing the wrong chefs, they clearly can't cook. For me the essential qualifications are excellent tastebuds and faultless knife skills, everything else I can teach them'. I'm keen to learn more - so I'll be down the front at Foodies with my notebook, well actually my iPad more than likely, tapping away and tweeting about the day. Oh, and thinking up some really tough questions to quiz Mark with afterwards. What would you ask? Will you be joining me? Ballgowns are optional.

I'm delighted to be part of the Official Foodies Festival Blogging Team! 

Ticket Information

2014 Foodies Festivals tickets are now available from or by calling 0844 995 1111.

1-day adult ticket for Friday £10.00
1-day adult ticket Saturday or Sunday £12.00 (£10.00 concession)
3-day adult ticket £18.00 (£15.00 concession)
1-day VIP ticket £38.00 (Friday VIP ticket £35)
Opening times: 10am until 6pm.

VIP tickets include a glass of Bubbly on arrival, access to the VIP tent throughout the day, a goody bag and priority entry to theatre and masterclass sessions as well as a private bar with refreshments throughout the day and great views of the entertainment stage.

All children aged 12 and under go free to all Foodies Festivals when accompanied by an adult.


  1. What a great interview! Lucky you, loved watching him on Great British Menu. I'll be there but possibly leave the ball gown at home!