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Skye restaurant named best in Scotland at national awards

A restaurant on the Isle of Skye, which opened less than five years ago, has been voted the best in Scotland, beating some of the country’s best known and most celebrated establishments.

Published: March 17, 2023

Edinbane Lodge took the title of Restaurant of the Year at the Scottish Excellence Awards, presented at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh on Thursday 16 March.

The result was another triumph for 33-year-old Chef-Patron Calum Montgomery, who was born and raised on Skye, and has overseen the restaurant's range of accolades over the years, including being awarded four AA Rosettes.

Edinbane was a 16th-Century derelict hunting lodge until he and his family bought it in 2017 and transformed it the following year into a 32 cover restaurant with four bedroom rooms.

Judges of the awards said: “Calum and his team were above exceptional in all aspects of the criteria including benchmarking, innovation, sustainability and ethics. With a very strong list of finalists, all those who were short listed made the final call very difficult, such was the calibre of applicants. “

Calum was also a finalist in the Chef of the Year category of the Excellence Awards, described as ‘the ultimate accolade for businesses and individuals working in Scottish hospitality.'

Skye restaurant

In 2019 Edinbane was named Newcomer Restaurant of the Year in the Catering Scotland Awards (CIS), predecessor of the Excellence Awards.

Other winners at the Scottish Excellence Awards

Entrepreneurial chef Dean Banks was shortlisted in the Chef of the Year, the Restaurant Newcomer category for Dulse in Edinburgh (for which he was Highly Commended) and in the Restaurant of the Year Award for HAAR in St Andrews.

In 2021 he launched Dean Banks at The Pompadour in the Waldorf Astoria at Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel, and the chef recently opened The Forager, a gastropub in Dollar, Clackmannanshire.

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Other finalists for Restaurant of the Year were Aizle in Edinburgh, Station Road at the Lovat Hotel in Fort Augustus and Unalome by Graeme Cheevers in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Street.

Chef of the Year went to Paul Wedgwood, 48, whose eponymous restaurant on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile recently celebrated its 16th anniversary.

A passionate forager, he works with schoolchildren in the capital and East Lothian to teach them cooking skills and reduce food waste.

Speaking as he was awarded the accolade, Paul said “This is the pinnacle of my career. It’s what I’ve been working for all my life.

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"This is the award which matters most to me. It’s not just a reflection of the actual cooking but the whole range of activities required from me and my team to consistently deliver outstanding dining experiences.”

Other finalists included Derek Johnstone, first winner of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2008, who launched the Rabbit Restaurant and its sister bar, The Seal, at the Marine Hotel at Troon last summer.

Craig Steedman, of catering business Gather & Gather triumphed in the Banqueting and Events category. Judges said he was “a stand out winner. We were so impressed with Craig's obvious passion for the industry and for local food and ingredients He has worked in such an incredible variety of businesses from workplace events to cooking for the late Queen's last garden party yet remains modest and appreciative of his team.”

Mingary Castle, a 13th-Century castle on the  Ardnamurchan peninsula that’s run by Jessica Thompson and her partner Colin Nicholson was named Best Restaurant Newcomer, while Rufflets Hotel in St Andrews, built in 1924 as a private home for the widow of a jute trader, was awarded the Independent Hotel of the Year title.

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Owned by the same family since 1952, Rufflets is run by grandsons of two of the original founders, their mother Ann Murray-Smith, and Marco Truffeli, the Italian-British hotelier who partnered with them in 2020.

The Group Hotel of the Year Award was won by the 174-bedroom Radisson Red Hotel in Glasgow, which has been stepping up its events and entertainment programmes, partnering with local radio stations and artistes performing at the nearby Ovo Hydro. It was joint winner with Glenapp Castle in the same category in the 2020-21 Excellence Award.

"We’ve worked very hard to create a unique identity, including our own brands," said general manager Graham Chalmers. "We haven’t gone with the crowd. The aim is always to give our guests memorable moments."

Runner-up was the 22-bed Duisdale Hotel on Skye’s Sleat Peninsula - part of Anne Gracie Gunn’s Sonas Collection. Duisdale received a Highly Recommended rating, with Highland Coast Hotels’ Royal Marine Hotel at Brora also a finalist.

There was consolation for Sonas when Group General Manager Andreas Maszczyk took the Employee of the Year Award.

A highlight of the event was presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Ken McCulloch, founder of the Malmaison and Dakota hotel chains.

The 14 experts on the Awards Advisory Board included award-winning lecturer, chef and author Gary Maclean, Lovat Loch Ness owner and sustainability specialist Caroline Gregory and Andrew Fairlie protégé and Great British Menu-winning Lorna McNee. It was chaired by Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive of Green Tourism.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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