A Week at EFS

Text: Peter Hertzmann, Photo: Philipp Kohlmann

The sun rose the morning of the summer solstice at about half four and stayed within view for more than 17 hours. For me, the day started easy: I slept in. Later, after eating a full Scottish breakfast at a nearby cafe, I settled into the chair at the desk in the room I was renting, a mile or so south of the center of Edinburgh. I was to spend most of the next eight or so hours writing and occasionally gazing out my window at the green park below and the ever changing clouds above. After all, that’s why I came to Edinburgh in the first place, not to gaze but to write. The long day of sunlight somehow made the writing easier.

I was spending the month as writer-in-residence at the Edinburgh Food Studio, a restaurant and, as it says on the front window, a food research hub. The place was started by Benedict Reade (below, right) and Sashana Souza Zanella (below, left) in November 2015. I became aware of it from a Kickstarter campaign; I had previously met Ben at a conference three years before. The Kickstarter literature included a phrase that one of the programs they wanted to institute at the Studio was a writer-in-residence. So I emailed Ben: I write, I cook, and it would be convenient for me to be present during the month of June.

When I presented myself in the doorway the first Friday in June, we still had not actually decided what I would be doing. Beforehand, I was simply told to bring some chef’s whites with me. It was decided that I would work in the kitchen as a cook for the three days of the week the restaurant served food. I would spend the other two days writing about anything that came to mind and that was relevant to my time at the Studio.

Service days started at about ten in the morning with a bacon-sausage-egg roll from the sandwich shop two doors up the road from the restaurant. It ended early the next morning with a splash of Armagnac and a quiet walk back to my room. The hours in between were spent with Ben, Sashana, and another cook preparing, cooking, plating, and cleaning-up from the meals served in the restaurant. The other cook was Philipp Kolmann, an Austrian that was studying in Eindhoven. The four of us did everything in the restaurant.

The twelve essays that follow were produced during my time in Edinburgh. The doggerel that separates the essays was conceived during the same period, but written a short time later. It seemed that a little lightness was needed to divide the essays’ seriousness. The opinions expressed in the essays are my own. Whether the directors of the Edinburgh Food Studio agree with any of them has not been determined.



I have cooked the pork
and the chef is satisfied.
My glasses are greasy.