Chef’s Special: David Proctor, Head Chef, The Aberdeen Altens Hotel, Aberdeen

David Proctor

Located on the south side of the city, the four-star Aberdeen Altens Hotel has been the focus of a £6 million investment over the past five years. The hotel’s restaurant offers both modern dishes and home-cooked favourites.

How long have you been in the industry and how did you start?

Nearly 40 years. My aunt and uncle owned a hotel where I used to work during the school holidays. Originally, I wanted to be a policeman but was told I was too short. So I carried on working at the hotel and found that I loved it – I haven’t looked back since.

What’s your career highlight so far?

I would like to say it hasn’t happened yet but becoming a head chef in a four-star hotel at the age of 25 has to be up there. I also get a lot of satisfaction from watching a lot of my young chefs become head chefs.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Taking over a hotel kitchen where none of the staff spoke any English! Communication was hard and it made service and training hugely challenging. I used a lot of online translation services and sent staff on English courses, as well as trying to pick up a little of their language too; now everyone can communicate.

How would you describe your restaurant and its food?

Fresh and British, with something for everyone.

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?

Beef which is full of flavour and versatile. I like to work with cheaper cuts because the flavours are more intense.

What’s your favourite wine?

Dry Italian white or rosé wine.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?

Anything Italian.

Is there any food you dislike?

Yes, overpowering food that leaves an unwelcome taste in your mouth.

What makes a good chef?

Dedication and good organisational skills.

What’s a top tip every chef should know?

It is important to have the creativity and imagination to be able to make something exciting and delicious no matter what you have to hand.

What makes you laugh in the kitchen?

Banter, anything that’s quick-witted.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?

Any chef who has achieved a Michelin star for the hard work and dedication to themselves and the team.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had and where was it?

A Mother’s Sunday dinner with all my family, roast anything with plenty of vegetables, two or three types of potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, of course.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?

Alan Shearer, Sergio Garcia and Emilia Clarke, a game of golf then round to my house for pasta, salad, a little wine and a good craic.