Five Minutes With... Andrew Smith
We spend Five Minutes With racing driver and property developer Andrew Smith, who has just launched 16 absolutely beautiful apartments on Edinburgh's exclusive Queen Street with Ashford Property Group. Head to the Queen Street website for a sneaky peek!
Andrew Smith (left) at Nurburging
What was your breakthrough moment in building your business?
It was more of a breakthrough period of time than a moment; the recent recession and massive property downturn. I survived but it was a very tough period with lots of firefighting, and I learned a lot of lessons which I think will stand me in good stead going forwards.
What’s your number one “Golden Business Rule”?
Don’t be greedy!
Where’s your favourite place in the world to be?
Driving an historic racing car.
What was the last book you read?
I don’t read books, but I probably should!
Talk us through your ideal lazy Sunday morning…
Lie in, coffee and papers, then long brunch into the afternoon with great friends!
If you could only ever eat at one restaurant again which one would you choose?
A place called “Chez Roger” in Le Grand Vey, Normandy where my mother has a house. It’s run by a larger than life chap (Joel), both in size and character, with blond hair and a reputation as Normandy's best traditional chef. He gave up his Michelin stars and retired to the area and his idea of the easy life has been to fashion a ramshackle restaurant that he runs on his terms. He cooks simple but amazing food. There's no waiter so expect to have to go to the kitchen to collect your next dish yourself, or help yourself to a bottle of good red from the disorganised bar.
There is no choice, you get what you’re given. First comes the seafood (Joel’s wife farms the oyster beds near the restaurant) which will normally be oysters, sea snails and winkles (and drink of Calvados). Then there is grilled lobster (flambéed with Calvados), followed by fillet of boeuf (and a drink of Calvados) cooked in the open fire. Then there is camembert cheese (and a drink of Calvados), followed by a tarte tatin with a big bowl of cold crème fraiche (and a drink of Calvados). If you are too wrecked to get yourself home the owners have turned the gîte next door into comfy guest rooms!
Is it important to you to have art in your own home?
It didn’t used to be, but in recent years I’ve started to appreciate art and so now yes it is. I’ve bought a few pieces, and had a few commissioned. I’m in between homes at the moment as I’m building a new place in London and a new place in Edinburgh, so I think I’m going to need some more soon! I think some people only buy art by well-known artist, but it’s only important to me to have art in my home that I love and that means something to me, no matter who the artist is.
The front prospect of Andrew's Queen Street development in Edinburgh.
When you buy a piece of art what considerations do you think about?
Do I love it? Where will it go? Can I afford it?
What is the most unusual piece of art you own?
I collect historic cars, and I have Jackie Stewart’s 1970 Formula 1 car, I’m planning to have it in my living room one day!
Is today’s modern art comparable to the great masterpieces of the past?
No, I don’t think so, because modern art is characterised by the rejection of traditional art concepts and techniques.
Andrew (right) is certainly a winner in our books!