Chef’s Special: Warren Brown, Executive chef, Crieff Hydro, Perthshire

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Perthshire hotel and resort Crieff Hydro has been in business for over 150 years and boasts several restaurants, offering everything from hot dogs to fine dining

Warren Brown, Crieff HydroHow long have you been in the industry?

I started out at the age of 16 working on a youth training scheme at the Four Seasons Hyde Park in London. But you could say I started a lot younger than that, hanging out in my mum’s tea shop in Birmingham and helping her out from the age of seven.

What’s your career highlight so far?

Working with chef Daniel Galmiche for nine years at Harveys, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Bristol.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

Coming back to the UK after being overseas – latterly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was a case of having to adapt to the food service industry here after so long abroad. I managed to overcome this by bringing with me a lot of what I learned working in Asia.

Describe your staff.

Indispensable!

How would you describe your restaurant and its food?

Modern French cuisine with a Scottish twist. Being based in Perthshire, I try and use as much local and Scottish produce as I can.

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?

Scottish cheese, particularly Blue Murder. It’s a blue cheese from Highland Fine Cheeses in Tain that’s got a spicy but sweet taste.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?

I don’t get to do much cooking at home – most of the time I get to sample the delicious dishes that my wife makes. She’s from the Philippines and we met in Dubai so many of her dishes are inspired from those regions.

Is there any food you dislike?

No.

What’s your favourite wine?

A good Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

What makes a good chef?

Patience, creativity and understanding.

What’s a top tip every chef should know?

Every chef should understand flavour – that it’s needed, when to use it, and how much of it to use.

What makes you laugh in the kitchen?

When I see a member of staff being inspired, or the moment they’ve learned something either from me or someone else, that makes me smile.

How do you relax outside of work?

I spend time with my family – my wife and my kids (13 and nine). We love cycling and enjoying the Perthshire countryside, which is a world away from a busy night’s service in the kitchen.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?

Daniel Galmiche. His understanding of food, of flavour and of balance is second to none.

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

My wedding meal. We had a garden party at the St Regis, Shanghai, a buffet with lots of Filipino favourites. We hired an outside catering company and I’ll admit the pressure was on them to cook for an executive chef and a front-of-house manager (my wife’s job at the time). They did a spectacular job.

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

Margaret Thatcher. I cooked for Tony Blair and Princess Diana and I regret that I didn’t cook for Mrs Thatcher before she died. I would have cooked for her while she was at Number 10.