One of Scotland’s most entertaining and innovative food and restaurant critics – Ray Gardner – has died aged 66.
Gardner was best-known as the author of the highly popular Trencherman restaurant column in The Herald, and the newspaper carried an appreciation of the man and his craft by former editor, Harry Reid.
Wrote Reid: “Like so many journalists who were in their pomp in the 1970s and 1980s, he started out as a copy boy on the old Scottish Daily Express in Albion Street, Glasgow. He was an eager youngster, determined to learn all aspects of the trade, and decided to develop his career in England. He worked on various papers in London, eventually becoming a feature writer on the Guardian
“But it was not until he returned to Glasgow in the mid-1970s, as features editor of the then Glasgow Herald, that his career really took off. As far as the paper’s readers were concerned, the key moment came when he agreed to take on an additional job and become The Herald’s food and restaurant critic. Operating under the by-line Trencherman, his restaurant reviews made an immediate and continuing impact.
“Ray had a genuine understanding of the technicalities of cooking, of the vagaries of fine wine and the mysterious mix that could render a restaurant’s ambience agreeable – but what made his pieces required reading was that they managed to be at once waspish, informative, funny and, sometimes, just a tad ridiculous.
“They were always gloriously readable, and Trencherman’s rivalry with the equally controversial Gut Reaction column, written by his more astringent and earnest counterpart on the Scotsman, Conrad Wilson, was for several years one of the more unlikely aspects of the Scottish media scene.”
He left The Herald 16 years ago, to indulge his passion for narrowboats, including the writing of several books.