Chef’s Special: John Paul Johnston

John Paul Johnston, Head chef, The Stag, Aberdeen

The Stag opened in Aberdeen in November 2012 in the former Star & Garter pub following a £500,000 refurbishment. The Crown Street bar offers hearty Scottish cuisine made with seasonal produce.

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

John Paul Johnston, Head chef, The Stag, Aberdeen

What’s your career highlight so far?
Being given the head chef’s job at The Stag. It’s my first head chef’s job and to be involved in bringing the pub back to its former glory has been fantastic.

How would you describe your food?
Home-cooked, warming and hearty food.

What’s the price of a typical three course meal?
£4.75 for a starter, around £8.50 for a main and £4.50 for a dessert.

Why should someone visit your restaurant?
We produce high quality food served in a cosy atmosphere with great customer service.

Describe your staff.
Friendly, really attentive and always showing an eagerness to learn.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
I’m a really big fan of curries and they have to be nice and spicy.

Is there any food you dislike?
I’m fortunate that I enjoy all food.

What’s your favourite wine?
I’m a fan of white wine, particularly a nice Pinot Grigio.

What is your favourite Scottish restaurant?
The Kitchin in Edinburgh. I have a lot of respect for Tom Kitchin for being the youngest Michelin star winner and the food he produces is fantastic.

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?
Haggis without a doubt. It’s such a versatile ingredient.

What makes a good chef?
Patience and learning to keep your cool.

What’s a tip every chef should know?
When using a mortar and pestle always use both sides of the pestle. The small end makes it much easier to break hard spices like peppercorns.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?
Gordon Ramsay. I like the fact he’s straight to the point and doesn’t take any nonsense.

How do you relax outside of work?
Spending good quality time with the family.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?
Gordon Ramsay. It would be incredible to pick his brain about the industry. We would have to dine at Claridge’s.

What makes you laugh in the kitchen?
The camaraderie between the chefs – having good banter in the kitchen is a must.