Chef’s Special: Simon Attridge, Executive chef, Gleneagles, Auchterarder

A five-star resort with eight bars and restaurants, Gleneagles has an extensive food and drink offer. But the focus on quality Scottish produce is consistent throughout

How long have you been in the industry?

My dad was the managing director of a group of hotels, so I started working front of house as a student. I began cooking over 21 years ago and I’ve never looked back!

What’s your career highlight so far?

It would be very hard to say just one. Receiving a Michelin star at 25 years old, being part of the opening team of the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard in London and currently being executive chef at Gleneagles are definitely my top three.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

In 2005, I took a job in Shanghai. It was a totally different culture, not to mention the language barrier. There were 30 chefs in the team and they spoke very little English between them. I was in a new country and learning a completely different way of life.

Describe your staff.

I have a team of around 130, which gives a great mix of skills and personalities. Everybody has a part to play towards the success of the whole operation.

How would you describe your restaurant and its food?

With its eight bars and restaurants, Gleneagles offers a diverse range of dining options and its menus cover the full culinary spectrum.

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?

There are so many! Hand-dived scallops, langoustine and Tweed Valley beef would be my top three.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?

Scottish rib-eye steak with grilled mushroom and tomato, triple cooked chips, béarnaise sauce and Caesar salad on the side. Then I would have chocolate mousse for dessert.

Is there any food you dislike?

Cauliflower cheese.

What’s your favourite wine?

I always like to try new wines and as a chef it is very important to try and learn as much as possible, which is helped by lots of menu tastings! If there was only one region left to drink from, it would have to be Burgundy, both white and red.

What makes a good chef?

A good attitude and willingness to learn are the core values of a successful chef.

What’s a top tip every chef should know?

Taste everything!

What makes you laugh in the kitchen?

The daily camaraderie and banter is one of the highlights of the job.

How do you relax outside of work?

I enjoy the gym and a game of golf, as well as eating out and exploring new places.

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

My most mind-blowing culinary experience was when I ate at The Fat Duck in 2017. The most enjoyable meal I’ve had was in Meursault in France. I was with my Dad and we ordered the house terrine. The whole terrine came out on a board with fresh, warm toast and cornichons – the instructions were to eat until we were content, and we certainly did!

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

I would invite a mix of family, friends and colleagues. For the conversation aspect, I would invite a couple of world leaders and famous sports personalities. As to where I would go: The French Laundry in California would be top of my list.