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‘Opportunities like this bring me great hope’: Fife chef Barry Bryson opens pop-up cafe at outdoor art gallery

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The private chef is running a three-week cafe over the October holidays at Jupiter Artland and says he is grateful to be given the chance to branch out in this way during tough times for the hospitality industry.

Fife chef Barry Bryson has begun a three-week residency at the outdoor gallery where he once managed a cafe for five years.

Barry first started working with Jupiter Artland in 2009, and the private chef is now back there as the attraction opens for the first time during the October break.

In August, Barry spoke about the difficulties facing the hospitality industry, revealing 15-20% of his company Cater Edinburgh’s annual turnover was based on catering for large events such as the Edinburgh Book Festival which have been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

For him, the opportunity to diversify through a pop-up cafe is proving to be a heartening experience.

He said: “I’m an unusual chef in that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I did feel a sense of hope when the opportunity came along. We’re living month to month in uncertain times, and just having the opportunity to continue cooking gives me hope. The way things are at the moment with ever-changing legislation and Government advice changing by the day and the hour and affecting how people feel about hospitality, I was hopeful about the pop-up as it’s an outdoor space. I thought I was entering into a project that I wasn’t going to find myself a week in going, ‘well that’s not happening’. I feel confident it’s something we can do really well.

“Jupiter Artland is for everybody. One of the things I love about working within the arts is that they’re there for everyone to enjoy. When I was a kid I got taken to art galleries and the  first thing I wanted to do was go to the cafe, so I’ve always got that voice in the back of my mind. Because the Artland is for everyone, infant and upwards, we’ve created a menu that pleases a wide range of tastes but fits with the kind of things I like to cook in autumn. So the menu is nourishing, and it’s about sustenance and seasonality I’m using with some amazing seasonal producers.”

But there are challenges too in running a pop-up operation with social distancing measures in place.

He explained: “We’ve reduced the indoor seating by over a third, so we can keep to the required distance between tables. Robin, who runs the business alongside me, has devised a simple but effective system. We want to bring the service back.

“There’ll be a covered terrace outside, we’ll take track and trace details, but with ordering, I wanted to bring the charm back. Customers don’t particularly want close interaction right now, so for the menu you’ll get a brand new pencil, neve used before, and a single-use menu and you just fill it in. The host will collect that from your table and put it in through an iPad, so the engagement at the table is there, but the long bit which is taking the order, we’ve cut that.

“There’s also a little note that says, ‘Tell chef Barry anything you need him to know’, so customers can write down dietary requirements or requests.”

Gardeners mow the grass on the Cells of Life landforms created by landscape architect Charles Jeneks which is one of the site-specific sculptures in the grounds of Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh.

Barry’s warming autumn menu at the pop-up features local and seasonal produce, including St Brides warm roast chicken Caesar salad; braised borders beef croquettes; salmon, ginger and scallop dumplings; pumpkin and cauliflower curry; Great Glen Charcuterie and Barry’s tomato chutney, as well as homemade soup of day and freshly-baked bread.

A children’s menu will also be available, along with a selection of hot beverages, soft drinks, cakes and scones.

Jupiter Artland is home to more than 30 permanent sculptures from artists including Phyllida Barlow, Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor, Cornelia Parker and Antony Gormley.

More about Barry Bryson…

My Memories in Meals: Fuelled by salty porridge, chef was chosen by Nigel Slater for greater things