Scots chef aims to make Chirac eat his words

Marc Horne

The French president ignited a cross-channel row after being overheard lambasting British food and pouring scorn on Scotland's national dish.

But now the sneering Gallic gourmet is set to be treated to a spectacular feast of Scottish specialities during the G8 summit.

At a meeting with the leaders of Germany and Russia, he recounted a tale of being forced to sample "unappetising" haggis by then Nato chief George Robertson.

Mr Chirac quipped: "From there sprang all our difficulties with Nato."

The Parisian thinking he was out of earshot of journalists said: "One cannot trust people who have such bad cuisine."

He then added that British food was the second worst "after Finland."

But a lavish banquet of the finest Caledonian fare could be set to send the French head of state into a U-turn.

The man who will be looking to convert Mr Chirac and wow the other G8 leaders is culinary wizard Andrew Fairlie of the Gleneagles Hotel.

Scotland's chef of the year, who trained in France under Michel Guerard, will prepare a showcase of Scottish produce.

The menu is being kept firmly under wraps but Peter Lederer, the managing director of the five-star hotel, hinted that seafood and venison may feature.

Mr Fairlie's signature dish is smoked lobster, which involves smoking lobster shells over old whisky barrels for up to 12 hours.

Mr Fairlie, 41, from Perth, said he was sure the French president would

reconsider his views on British food after sampling the G8 menu he was cooking up.

The Michelin-starred chef said "I am sure it was a tongue-in-cheek statement and since Mr Chirac has never dined in my restaurant I am not going to take his comments personally. I am confident that he will have a change of heart when he has."

Asked whether haggis would be on the menu, a Downing Street spokesman said: "I'm not aware that haggis is actually on the menu for Gleneagles." .

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