Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Queen of Brunch: Chef brings cafe culture to the comfort of your home

brunch
Laurie MacMillan hard at work in her Cafe Strange Brew in Glasgow before lockdown

Runny poached eggs served on buttery toast, granola topped with fresh, plump berries, and pancakes piled high and doused in syrup – sweet or savoury, brunch has become one of our favourite meals, served up on lazy Sundays alongside endless cups of coffee.

And in Glasgow, where devout foodies gladly queue around the block to get their avocado toast fix, chef Laurie MacMillan is the undisputed Queen of Brunch.

In the last five years, the 36-year-old has gone from serving up dishes to just five tables in her first tiny cafe, to owning two of the city’s most popular and highly-rated eateries, where neither love nor money will secure you a table without waiting behind throngs of hungry patrons.

Despite working in the food industry since she was 13, Laurie never imagined getting to where she is today, and admits it has been a steep learning curve.

“When I was little, I always played at running cafes and restaurants, writing my own little menus, but the penny didn’t drop until I was much older that cooking was what I wanted to do,” explained Laurie, who owns cafes Strange Brew and Mesa, as well as new venture, Sweet Jane Bakehouse, which opened in March this year.

“But I started working in wee cafes and coffee shops, where everything was made fresh on the premises.

“Without any intention, my life started to revolve around food from an early age.

“I didn’t really take it seriously as a vocation, I had planned to go to art school. Then, when I was about 22, I realised I had been ignoring my aptitude for food, so I started taking cooking more seriously as a career.”

After working hard for years, Laurie eventually became head chef at a restaurant in Glasgow’s trendy Finnieston neighbourhood, before using her savings to venture out on her own. In 2015 she bought a tiny shopfront where the first Cafe Strange Brew was born – and the rest, as they say, is history.

She said: “I had been saving for nine years to have my own place, and I paid an absolute fortune for the first unit, but I just had such a good feeling about the space.

“I never, ever expected the restaurant to be where it is now.”

Eggs of every variety, freshly baked bread and steaming hot coffee are staples on every brunch menu, and Laurie believes focusing on high-quality produce has been the key to her success.

Plus, it helps to have very photo-worthy plates of food, which customers love to share on social media.

Now, with her restaurants closed for lockdown (“Takeaway wasn’t an option – poached eggs don’t exactly travel well!”) she is focusing on the same winning ingredients to stay busy.

Laurie is one of the local chefs taking part in The Glasgow Pantry, a new online community launched in early April to support the city’s favourite food and drink businesses during self-isolation.

From live cook-a-longs to virtual beer tastings, the initiative is encouraging food lovers to get cooking alongside their favourite chefs, and Laurie says it’s been a fun way to keep active while supporting small businesses.

She explained: “It’s such a buzz to see people making your recipes at home. I actually got a message from the cheese shop here in Shawlands, on Glasgow’s Southside, asking if I had put out a recipe because they had been inundated with orders for mozzarella. I’ll give them a heads-up next time!

“At the start of lockdown I was petrified. I didn’t know how I was going to go from not stopping all day to not having any real structure.

“But I’m trying to embrace it. I’ve been in the kitchen at home, which is unusual for chefs – we’re more at home cooking for other people.”

For more info, visit facebook.com/theglasgowpantry.


Lauren’s simple banana bread

You’ll need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 smooshed bananas
  • 1 banana for on top
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 290g plain flour
  • 110g salted butter
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp bicarb
  • 90ml full fat milk with 1 tsp vinegar added
  • 7 tsp peanut butter
  • Some squeezy honey

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  2. Cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Add the eggs and whisk in. Add 3 smooshed-up bananas and mix in well.
  3. Add the salt and bicarb to mixture and mix in well. Now fold in your flour gradually.
  4. Line a 2.5lb loaf tin with baking parchment and empty the loaf mix in. Slice the banana in half lengthways and place on top.
  5. Dot around the peanut butter on the surface.
  6. Pop loaf in the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour
  7. Take out of the oven, gently use the parchment to lift on to a cooling tray.
  8. While still warm, drizzle with honey. Allow to cool and enjoy!