James Davie, Head chef, The Elphinstone Hotel, Biggar
Situated in the centre of Biggar, 30 miles from Edinburgh, The Elphinstone Hotel has been owned by Robert and Janette Allen, and their son Michael, for almost 25 years. The traditional coaching inn has a varied menu, with dishes including chicken and haggis with a wholegrain mustard sauce, fisherman’s pie and stuffed loin of pork.
How long have you been in the catering business?
20 years. I started by accident with a part-time job as a KP while I was still at school.
How would you describe your food?
Traditional, classic fayre, which presents fresh Scottish products with imagination or a twist.
What’s the price of a typical three course meal (without wine)?
£20 – £25.
Why should someone visit your restaurant?
For excellent quality, freshly prepared, unpretentious food in comfortable surroundings.
Describe your staff
Honest, hardworking and fun.
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
Steak and chips.
Is there any food you dislike?
I’m not a fan of fish, but I love shellfish.
What’s your favourite wine?
A good Barolo.
What is your favourite Scottish restaurant?
The Pierhouse Hotel and Seafood Restaurant in Port Appin.
What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?
Scotch beef and lamb.
What makes a good chef?
Creativity, imagination and a sense of humour.
What’s a tip every chef should know?
Look after your KPs.
Who do you admire in the industry and why?
Heston Blumenthal. What he does is totally surreal – beyond cooking.
How do you relax outside of work?
Spending time with family.
Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?
It would have been el Bulli before it closed, with Carol, my partner, Heston Blumenthal and Vic Reeves.
What makes you (or has made you) laugh in the kitchen?
I have a great deal of fun in the kitchen and laughs are often had by the typical kitchen mischief that all chefs are aware of.
Anything else we should know?
Running a great food operation is not rocket science but the basics are so often overlooked. Offer the right product, the best of service and do it consistently and you should succeed.