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Flavour Profile Q&A: Craig Byiers, executive chef at Links House at Royal Dornoch

He looks after the food offering at this five-star hotel

Published: April 6, 2022
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What’s your favourite ingredient?

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce –  the most versatile ingredient. It’s also a fantastic condiment and works as a sauce base or reduction. The fermentation production process of their ingredients speak for themselves. 

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

I have absolutely no guilt, other than others not being able to experience them with me.

Tell us about your first food memory

When I was of nursery school age, my grandfather used to take his Friday lunch break at my family home, as my granny would have been at work. We always had stovies. He used to feed me some of his when my mother was out of the room. She wouldn’t have minded, but I’d already been fed before he got there. I always had a half decent appetite. We had them with two kinds of beetroot – pickled and sweet - as well as Stockan’s Orkney oatcakes and a glass of milk. Timeless. 

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

Café Boheme in Aberdeen and Café St.Honore in Edinburgh (although I’ve only been there once). I suppose like most consumers I fall in love when food has a story. There must be some sort of reason and meaning – an ethos of some kind to the restaurant narrative and a good wine list of course.  

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What would be your last supper?

Natural oysters, with vinegar, shallots and Singularity Sauce Co’s Het Sass, followed by steak and eggs with a side of lobster thermidor and new potatoes with salted parsley butter, asparagus and Hollandaise. Accompanied by a combo of perhaps a Chablis/Gruner and a Cab Sauv. We’d finish on cheese and tawny port, with some chocolate Florentines and espresso.

Starter or pudding? 

Please don’t ask me to leave one out.

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Do you have any food hates?

We should share everything we can. It is far too easy to forget that there are people on our own doorstep that don’t have access to food. It sounds ridiculous, but unfortunately true. If we can cut back on greed and waste, we may be on to something.

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

See the last supper above for a menu. My invitation list would be; my closest friends, my partner, my family and the editor of this column.

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What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

I have two. The South of France, in particular Sete in Languedoc. There’s seafood galore and it’s the home of an Italian-inspired tielle - a pastry-based pie, whose filling consists of octopus in tomato sauce. My friends from Montpelier tell me there are two bakers in Sete who produce these fantastic pies and that everyone has a favourite.

Copenhagen. Nordic cuisine is inspirational, in that it’s unfussy and relaxed. They celebrate their heritage and culture in their food like we should. I visited Copenhagen for a Slow Food Festival a few years ago and fell in love with the effortless approach and calm, cool passion of the Nordic persona. Food is celebrated there whereas here we seem to celebrate with food.

www.linkshousedornoch.com

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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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