Turnberry Hotel sets sights on becoming one of Scotland’s top culinary destinations

It’s already one of the UK’s best-known golfing locations and now the iconic Turnberry hotel in South Ayrshire has set its sights on becoming one of its most popular food and drink destinations as well.

Published 5th Dec 2018
Updated 31 st Oct 2023

The hotel, which was bought over by The Trump Organisation in 2014, was originally opened in 1906 and thanks to its hugely popular Ailsa Course, has been the setting of many famous sporting events, including the now famous “duel in the sun” – the celebrated 1977 Open Championship that saw Tom Watson narrowly beat Jack Nicklaus to secure his first ever Claret Jug.

Trump Turnberry
Picture: Trump Turnberry

Following an extensive refurbishment, which included the construction of a grand ballroom, the hotel was recently crowned Scottish Hotel of the Year and, not content to rest on their laurels, general manager Ralph Porciani and director of culinary Justin Galea are turning their attention to building the hotel’s reputation for “offering a first-class dining experience” to anyone who comes through their doors.

The first step was the promotion of Callum Dow to the executive head chef position, which will see the talented chef, who joined the kitchen in 2017, take control of the resort’s entire dining portfolio, which includes the signature 1906 restaurant, the Grand Tea Lounge & Bar, and The Lighthouse Halfway House.

Callum, who previously spent a year working as head chef at the Deseo restaurant at Gleneagles, will also be placed in charge of the Chef’s Table, a unique dining experience for up to ten guests, which takes place at the heart of Turnberry’s main kitchen and allows those eating at the table unrivalled access to the chefs making their food and the kitchen in which it is made.

He said: “We are a very young and new team within the kitchens and laying the foundations of what is going to be a very exciting time at the hotel.

Both Ralph and Justin hail from culinary backgrounds and are passionate about the direction in which they want the hotel to go.

With the unrivalled views of the sea from the hotel and the fertile Ayrshire countryside that surrounds it, they, as well as Callum and his team, are clear on where they wish to take inspiration for their menus.

Callum said: “Local produce is at the heart of everything we do. Scotland’s larder is phenomenal and we work hard on sourcing the best and working with suppliers to ensure that we get exactly what we want.

"If you source the best ingredients then you do not need to mess around with them, just cook them to perfection and you have yourself a great dish.”

A former executive head chef at the resort himself, Justin Galea agrees that Scotland’s larder is “one of the best in the world” and is hugely passionate about the produce that comes in through his doors, instilling a philosophy in the kitchen that means that the Turnberry staff will only ever seek to use the best Scottish ingredients available.

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For him this means going out and finding unrivalled local ingredients; with smoked trout from The Tobermory Fish Company, Smoked Gigha Halibut, grass-fed beef from Campbells Prime Meat, seafood from Fishbrothers and locally sourced veg from nearby GC Growers all featuring heavily within their menus.

Explaining that this focus on provenance and quality will shape the future of the resort’s food offering, Justin said: “You have to be in love with what’s in your fridges as much as you are with what’s eventually going on your plates.

"We have always had the ethos that our guests deserve to eat the best and we are lucky to have suppliers who believe in what we want to do.”

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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