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‘The first thing that I learned to make was sugo, my Italian Nonna’s pasta sauce’: Six by Nico chef on his desert island dishes

© Chris Sumner/DCT MediaNico Simeone
Nico Simeone

Growing up surrounded by a family of foodies, Nico Simeone always knew he wanted to be a chef.

After starting his career at Number One, a four AA Rosette restaurant located within the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, he later launched his first restaurant, 111 by Nico, in Glasgow in 2015.

Two years later, Simeone opened the first Six by Nico, his innovative eateries that offer a new six-course tasting menu every six weeks, each themed upon a different place or memory.

There are now 10 locations, including Aberdeen, which opened earlier this year.

Here, we sat down with the top chef to discover his favourite dishes, ingredients and more.

What is your first food memory?

My earliest food memories are with my family, sitting around the table together every Sunday afternoon. My family is of Italian descent and my cousins, aunts, and uncles were always a big part of my life growing up.

My Nonna’s sugo (sauce, in Italian) was one of the first things I learned to make, so I also have many childhood memories of watching her prepare the staple in her repertoire.

Who inspired you to become a chef?

My family. I grew up working in our Glasgow chip shop, which later inspired my first Six by Nico theme, “The Chippie”.

This theme returns to our restaurants for Christmas, and it’s special as it’s the menu we use to launch every new Six by Nico restaurant location site, and it’s inspired by my Scottish-Italian heritage.

Do you have any guilty pleasure foods?

Beans on toast with Worcestershire sauce!

What would be your “death row” meal?

Chicken Milanese with a fried duck egg and a side of rocket and Parmesan salad.

Sweet or savoury?

Got to be sweet. Everyone loves a sweet treat and one of my favourites is sweet popcorn. So good to eat but decidedly not very good for you…

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pasta because it’s filling, versatile and delicious. Pasta recipes have it all – flavour, convenience and simplicity.

Mashed potato or roasties?

Roasties. One of my favourite ways to switch things up is to make a crispy potato terrine similar to my Chips and Cheese dish from the Six by Nico “The Chippie” menu. If you want a classic roast potato, squeeze out all the moisture after parboiling. It’s makes them extra crispy.

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Always scrambled. For me, it is best to keep it simple – scrambled with a little butter and served on fresh sourdough.

Your fave Scottish restaurant?

I love a family Sunday roast at The Loveable Rogue on Great Western Road in Glasgow. They serve top, hearty scran and, undoubtedly, the best roast in the city.

What’s your favourite cuisine?

It would have to be Italian because the variety is limitless.

What ingredient could you not live without?

It’s obvious, but it has to be salt and pepper. They can make or break a dish.