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Flavour Profile Q&A: Mark Donald, head chef of The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant

The head chef of the new distillery restaurant tells us about his foodie heaven and hell.

Published: May 11, 2021

Mark Donald left Edinburgh's Number One restaurant at The Balmoral in 2020, and has taken up a new role at Scotland's first fine dining restaurant within a distillery.

What’s your favourite ingredient?

A nice chilled ripe nectarine. You know when you get one in that rare but perfect ripeness window, when you bite into it and you can’t (and shouldn’t) stop the juices running down your chin.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

All of the crisps. Especially when it comes to ones like the Co-op’s Irresistible Sea Salt and Chardonnay White Wine Vinegar.

They have a solid amount of vinegar but be careful (easier said than done), if you eat too many you’ll feel like you’re going to lose all the skin on the roof of your mouth. 

Tell us about your first food memory?

I remember eating Zoom ice lollies with my Granda while on Helensburgh beach.

What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?

The Little Chartroom on the Prom has a nice little setup and is perfect for the current climate.

I’m also keen to get along to The Cellar in Anstruther and try Billy Boyter’s food when restrictions are lifted. 

The Oyster Shed near the Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye is also a must whenever I manage to get along there.

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What would be your last supper?

My mother’s lasagne. She would always smash a few of them out whenever there was a big family do.

It would be nice to remember those times before I breathe my last.

Starter or pudding?

Can I not have both? If I had to choose between the two it would be a starter.

It all depends on the menu, but I’ll always struggle to look past any shellfish options if they’re among the starter choices.

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Do you have any food hates?

Don’t bring a banana or baked beans anywhere near me.

I hate the flavour and texture of them both.

What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?

It would be a massive outdoor BBQ weekender. I’d extend an open invitation to everyone.

The more the merrier, though I’d make sure the whole cast of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure were there (in costume).

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We’d have a few bands (Talking Heads, Daft Punk, Chic and Nile Rodgers etc) and DJs playing.

There would be lots of barefoot cooking over the wood fire and it’d be an everyone-brings-a-salad kind of affair.

Perhaps we’d also have a game or two of rounders. Bartender Phil Gandevia could make us some of his tiki cocktails and we’d have tiramisu by chef Ian Scaramuzza – head chef of In Situ in San Francisco.

What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

It’d be South East Asia. I know that’s a pretty cheffy answer but that’s for a very good reason, as it has so many cultures, cuisines and fantastic ingredients.

From markets, to high end restaurants to hawker stalls and, once you’re off the beaten track, everything in between.

You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, on pretty much any budget.

For more information on The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant, which will be located in Scotland’s oldest working distillery, see their website.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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