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August 8, 2018

Over the last three years, Edinburgh Food Studio has done something unique in the capital's dining scene. Now it is changing.

Until the end of August, Edinburgh will fizz with performers trying to push the boundaries of music, theatre, comedy and any other art form you care to mention.

A short stroll away, on Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh Food Studio has spent the last three years pushing the boundaries of cooking. If it were a Fringe show, it would have five stars.

The venture is the brainchild of chefs Sashana Souza Zanella and Ben Reade. Since their crowd-funded launch in November 2015, Edinburgh Food Studio has operated as a restaurant and a food lab/research hub.

Food research lab and restaurant

Both Sashana and Ben graduated from of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. For three years, Ben was the head of research and development at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen. Sashana is an anthropologist and chef from Montreal.

In the last three years, they have invited some of the world's most interesting chefs to work with them on one off meals. They have also published their research and findings from their collaborations on their website.

If you want to read about making seal meat serrano; the history of haggis tikka masala or an essay on why the best chefs can't cook then we recommend their research page.

Edinburgh Food Studio: ingredient-led cuisine

Orkney scallop with gooseberry and purslane.

As their three year anniversary loomed, Sashana and Ben reckoned they needed to make a choice. Continue what they were doing; do something else or take it to the next level.

To use Ben's memorable phrase, they decided to go 'Balls deep'. Girolles with meadowsweet and brown butter. 'For the last three years, we have focused on bringing great guest chefs in to the restaurant,' says Ben. 'We have worked with 67 guest chefs and producers in that time. Working with these guests has shaped our experience of food and forced us out of our comfort zone. Especially in terms of sourcing unusual ingredients requested by the guests.

'Doing this has exposed us to a multitude of different cooking styles. It has made us question what we would do and what we like. The answer is to go balls deep and push on to the next level.'

To this end, Edinburgh Food studio have made a number of changes. Most importantly, they have taken on a new head chef: James Murray. Originally from Falkirk and with roots in the Outer Hebrides, James' career has taken him all over the world.

His CV includes stints with the Ramsay group; a period as a private chef on Richard Branson's private island; time at Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons plus his role as head chef at NUR Hong Kong which was awarded a Michelin star three months after opening.

As well as selling breads from their friends at Company Bakery, the team will also be selling their own roast coffee, tea, butter and vinegars plus wine and beer. Kent cucumber pickle with cod brandade. Opening hours have been extended so EFS is now serving lunch from Thursday to Saturday plus brunch on Sundays. Dinner is served Wednesday to Saturday.

And if you do book in, what can you expect? Ben will happily say that they don't do much to their ingredients.

Perhaps. Their dishes are not overworked, frou frou or cheffy.

But the kitchen team are very thoughtful about what little they do. And they start with the best possible produce to create innovative, ingredient-led cuisine.

The 5pm Dining blog was invited to their relaunch. The pics on this post are some of the dishes we ate. Shetland turbot with Barra cockles, seas aster and elderflower. Linda Dick chicken, redcurrant and grilled onion.