What’s your favourite ingredient?
Butter. The flavour is irresistible and it’s versatile so I use it in pretty much everything. I love cooking with it, baking with it, and obviously, nothing beats a good slice of warm bread with butter.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Other than butter, it has to be cake. I’m a keen baker.
Tell us about your first food memory?
When I was a child, every Wednesday night my parents would take my brother and I to swimming lessons. As a treat on the way home, we would collect fish and chips wrapped in paper from our local chippie. I always remember that feeling of being so hungry when you get out of the pool, then the rush to the fish and chip shop and eating it in the car driving home. We couldn’t wait.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli, or cafe?
Monachyle Mhor is my idea of heaven. Their commitment to using local and Scottish produce is important to me so makes the whole dining experience even better. The food is incredible, the service is flawless and of course, the setting is perfect. As Food and Tourism Ambassador for Stirling, it’s a privilege that I can call this my local.
What would be your last supper?
I’d cook and my nearest and dearest would be with me. We’d have Christmas dinner made from scratch with all the trimmings and for dessert, we’d have Christmas pudding and chocolate and black cherry trifle. One dessert is never enough.
Starter or pudding?
Pudding, without a doubt.
Do you have any food hates?
Sundried tomatoes. I can’t even stand the thought of them.
What starters, main, and dessert would be served at your dream dinner.
We’d start with smoked salmon, then onto venison with port and cherry sauce, served with dauphinoise potatoes. A selection of Scottish cheeses are next and the big finale is a sharp sea-buckthorn parfait. I don’t drink alcohol but everyone else could start with Champagne or a chilled chablis. A claret for main and a few drams at the end.
My life and business partner, Alan McColm, obviously has the first seat. I’d also ask great people including Chris Brown, who’s a partner at leading café consultancy Turpin Smale so always has something interesting to say. Malcolm Borthwick was my first boss and an overall great guy. Ross Sneddon is great company and a master of his trade as an executive pastry chef at The Balmoral. Katherine Arnold, operations director from when I worked at Corney and Barrow where I was a managing director for 12 years. Lastly, Robbie Bargh of the Gorgeous Group. He’s a very good friend and a constant source of ideas and inspiration, so ideal company.
What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?
San Sebastian. Although you need to be a night owl to really enjoy it, a long weekend is the perfect amount of time to enjoy all the delights of world-class food. It’s the place to be for pinchos.