What’s your favourite ingredient?
Hand-dived scallops. They’re so versatile, quick to prep and cook, it’s easy to spot quality, and they’re sustainable and delicious. It’s a pleasure to work with James at Skye Scallop Divers who always delivers us consistent WHOPPERS. He has a real passion for his trade and often helps us out with almost no notice if we have a last minute private dinner for example. We almost always have scallops on our menus now, unless it’s exceptionally bad weather.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Chinese takeaway for sure. Salt and chilli anything. I’m not even that guilty about it, I tell everyone.
Tell us about your first food memory?
My first food memories come from each of my grandparents. My Granny Braes made the most INCREDIBLE clootie dumpling, layered with cold butter and served with a cup of strong island tea. I’d walk into her house next to us and know by the smell that she had made it. It would literally make my day. My other earliest food memory comes from the other side of my family and that’s the smell of Hebridean mutton slowly simmering away in the kitchen of my shennair, Donald Angie. It’s something that’s always stuck with me. Whenever we serve mutton at the restaurant it brings a smile to my face as I have memories of visiting my grandad down in Sleat.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?
My favourite place to go right now is Café Cuil on Skye, as it serves super relaxed homemade comfort food with a twist. I went to school with the owner Clare at Portree High but she’s travelled all over and brought the café she started in East End London back to the Glens of Drynoch. Go for the Lochalsh beef brisket rarebit or tattie scone stack. Banging.
What would be your last supper?
It’d be dry aged cote de boeuf, bearnaise sauce, skinny fries and asparagus. I’d serve that with a shopping bag full of squat lobsters cooked in garlic butter.
Starter or pudding?
Starter for sure. I’ve definitely got a sweet tooth but I get so much more pleasure from a savoury dish than a sweet one. I saw someone order a second starter instead of a pudding the other day and thought the man was an absolute genius.
Do you have any food hates?
Tripe. Can’t hack it, won’t hack it. I’ve tried many times and just can’t get my head around the texture.
I also absolutely hated vegetables of all kinds until I was about 17-years-old. Now I can’t get enough of them. I suppose I owe that to my first head chef as they made sure I tasted absolutely everything. I realised that vegetables were great once they were cooked and seasoned properly. Maybe I was too used to getting brown broccoli.
What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?
It would have to be a full Skye menu. We’d start off with another shopping bag full of squat lobsters (that’s how they are delivered up here) – nothing fancy just cooked in a wild garlic butter and everyone gets peeling away with some crusty bread on the side. For mains I’d go shellfish again but this time, all cooked on the BBQ - lobster, scallops, mussels and langoustines. I’d maybe throw some mackerel in there too actually, as well as some of Neil Maclean’s award winning tatties, organic salad leaves from Orbost and lots of different dips and sauces. For dessert I’d need to ask my wife Eilidh to help me out so she could make her amazing individual lemon meringue pies. It’s genuinely my favourite dessert from anywhere.
I could go along the lines of celebrities here but if it was a true dream dinner for me, the guests would be the near and dear friends and family we’ve lost over the years so we could have one last good time together.
What's the next food trend?
I think using all off-cuts and less prime cuts has been fashionable before but will be the next really big thing, maybe as a way of necessity. The cost of living will be a big factor in this. Fallow is one of my favourite restaurants in London and I feel like they are leading the way. You don’t get a fillet of halibut on their menu – instead, it’s a chargrilled cod head.
What's your favourite drink?
I’m a big fan of bourbon and whisky. The chef Mark Donald recently gifted me a bottle of Triple Wood Glenturret which was special. I phoned our drinks supplier the next week and got it on the bar menu at Edinbane.
A Bulleit Kentucky Mule is my go-to cocktail.
What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?
It’s London for me. London is a complete parallel universe to Skye, any single way you look at it. I try to eat in as many places as I can whenever I visit. It blows me away every time - from some of the best fine-dining restaurants in the world, to the smallest food truck in Borough Market. You’re never far away from a memorable food experience.
Edinbane Lodge was awarded 4 AA Rosettes earlier this month. They’re one of six restaurants in Scotland to receive the accolade and the first in Skye. For more information, see www.edinbanelodge.com