Chef’s special: Mark Easton

Head chef, Killiecrankie Hotel

Killiecrankie, Pitlochry

Mark Easton, Killecrankie

Located three miles north of Pitlochry, Killiecrankie Hotel has established a strong reputation for its food. Menus major in fresh local and traditional ingredients and contemporary Scottish flavours.

How long have you been in the industry and how and when did you start?
Since leaving school and deciding I didn’t want to farm like my Dad! I went to Perth College to study catering.

What’s your career highlight so far?
My first appointment as head chef has to stand out – the phone lines were red hot! I was only 22 and I was in charge of a brigade of seven.

How would you describe your food?
It’s a real mixture of the methods and styles I have picked up on my travels and developed over the years. I suppose it could be described as modern Scottish.

What’s the price of a typical three course meal (without wine)?
We do a daily changing table d’hôte menu of four courses plus coffee and homemade chocolate for £42 per person.

Why should someone visit your restaurant?
Because the setting is special, the staff are friendly and efficient and, most importantly, you can be sure of a first class dinner made of only the finest, local and fresh ingredients.

Describe your staff.
We have a brigade of four in the kitchen. My sous chef Wayne has been with me for nine years and we work very well together.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
Lasagne and curry are both firm favourites in our household.

What is your favourite Scottish ingredient?
I love cooking with game – particularly local venison. Of course, coming from Perthshire, the simple raspberry has to be up there too.
Is there any food you dislike?
Offal – it’s awful!

What is your favourite wine?
I like full bodied reds – one of my favourites at the moment is Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch – a delicious Shiraz from Fowles Wine in Australia.

Not counting your own, which is your favourite Scottish restaurant?
It’s difficult to single one out, but I love to visit my friend Craig Millar at Craig Millar@16 West End in St Monans.

What makes a good chef?
The ability to blend flavours, whilst not losing the individual ingredient in the mix. It’s important to remain true to the product. Above all take time to brainstorm with your team and to listen to your clients.

What’s a tip every chef should know?
Don’t skimp on quality. Oh and keep a good set of knives!

Who do you admire in the industry and why?
No one specifically, but several in general. I admire the stamina of all the even-older-than-me chefs who are still at it with such passion!

How do you relax outside of work?
I walk the dog, socialise with friends, and enjoy time with my family.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?
Three of my greatest friends who all died far too young. We would go to Hong Kong and probably eat at Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental.

What makes you laugh in the kitchen?
Some of the requests that come through from the front of house – mostly from the front of house staff!