Chef’s special: Des Ballantyne

Des Ballantyne, Head chef, The Puffer Bar & Restaurant, Easdale Island, Oban


The Puffer Bar & Restaurant is situated on Easdale Island, off Oban. Its owners are committed to drawing tourists to the island, working with local operators to market Easdale as a year-round holiday destination. Locally-sourced ingredients feature heavily on the menu.

How long have you been in the catering business?
14 years so far. I started washing dishes and prepping with the commis when I was 14.

How would you describe your food?
We have the best shellfish in the world right here on our doorstep.

What’s the price of a typical three course meal (without wine)?

Why should someone visit your restaurant?
Not only is The Puffer great value for money but it’s also a unique experience catching the passenger-only ferry over to Easdale.

Describe your staff
We’ve got a good bunch who are young and ambitious.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
Fresh pasta because you can get others involved in preparing it.

Is there any food you dislike?
There’s nothing less appetising than overcooked, waterlogged courgette. Oh, and pumpernickel. I’ve tried to like it but can’t.

What’s your favourite wine?
I prefer whisky. Anything from Bruichladdich seems to do the trick.

What is your favourite Scottish restaurant?
I don’t eat out too often but I like places you can relax. Nothing too formal.

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?
Summer Harvest cold pressed rapeseed oil.

What makes a good chef?
It’s not just about what you put on the plate: think outside the kitchen.

What’s a tip every chef should know?
Don’t take out your stress on colleagues.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?
Small business owners who keep going when the going gets tough.

How do you relax outside of work?
I row and run to keep fit, brew beer, make wine and enjoy table tennis.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?
Ozzy Osbourne. We’d get a chippy and go to the pub!

Anything else we should know?
I don’t like bank holidays. I want a caterers’ holiday weekend every year. The bankers can cook their own dinner.