Chef’s special : Karen Higgins

Karen Higgins, head chef, Channings, Edinburgh


The restaurant at four-star Edinburgh hotel Channings is described on its website as a “delightful neighbourhood bistro with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere”. In charge of the kitchen is Karen Higgins who outlines an approach to food that has helped the restaurant win an AA Rosette.

How long have you been in the catering business?
16 years.

What’s your career highlight so far?
Going and doing various stints in other kitchens inspires me greatly.

How would you describe your food?
Seasonal, using local ingredients where possible.

Why should someone visit your restaurant?
To experience local, seasonal food, prepared and cooked to a high standard, and enjoyed in a warm and cosy setting.

Describe your staff
They’re like extended family – spending so much time together lets you get to know everything about them, but like spending time with family you need your days off to escape from them!

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
I don’t really have a favourite but I love making jam, marmalade and chutneys.

Is there any food you dislike?

Which is your favourite Scottish restaurant?
Number One at The Balmoral – the service is outstanding!

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?

What makes a good chef?
Hard work, a passion for food and the inability to give up.

What’s a tip every chef should know?
When it comes to the pastry section stick to the recipe and weigh out your ingredients.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. I admire the way he makes it look so easy just to move to the country, set up a wee farm and live off the land. I would love to do that.

How do you relax outside of work?
Spending time with my husband in front of the TV, going out for dinner with friends and gardening.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?
I would take my husband and go to the French Laundry – we don’t get to spend enough time together.

What makes you laugh in the kitchen?
It doesn’t take much – you have to have a good sense of humour to work in a kitchen.
If not you’d go insane!