The Hot Scots Power 40: Roy Brett, Ondine, Edinburgh

21 February 2013
The Hot Scots Power 40: Roy Brett, Ondine, Edinburgh

Roy Brett - Snapshot

Chef-proprietor Roy Brett launched the critically acclaimed seafood restaurant Ondine in Edinburgh in September 2009. Named after a mythological sea spirit, it's the solo venture of the Edinburgh-born chef.

The 90-seat restaurant and oyster bar serves up to 1,000 covers a week and the bill for three courses with wine and coffee comes in at around £50-£70 per head.

He has won a string of awards including Chef of the Year and the food prize at the Spirit of Scotland Awards. Last year, Ondine was rated The Good Food Guide's Scottish Restaurant of the Year and was described as "One of Edinburgh's best-loved restaurants".

In addition, it has just been placed 24th in the list of UK Top 100 Restaurants.

Roy Brett - Career guide

Roy Brett's CV lists some of the best establishments in Britain. From a three-year apprenticeship at Edinburgh's Caledonian Hotel under Alan Hill and Jeff Bland, he moved to the Savoy Grill in London.

A period as head chef at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow then followed, before he returned to London to work with Mark Hix at Le Caprice.

Brett became executive chef at Malmaison before joining Rick Stein in Cornwall from 2001 to 2005. During the time they worked together, Stein's flagship restaurant in Padstow was named Restaurant of the Year for four consecutive years.

In 2007, Brett returned to Scotland as chef-director at Dakota Hotels, opening branches at Euro Central and then Forth Bridge. Under his watch, Dakota became the first Scottish restaurant to earn an accreditation for sustainable sourcing from the Marine Stewardship Council.

Brett launched Ondine in September 2009 with a business partner.

Roy Brett - What we think

As a chef, Roy Brett is committed to sustainable seafood and works with small local suppliers ranging from fishermen to foragers to ensure he only uses sustainable, high quality, seasonal seafood in his dishes. More broadly, he has also advised the Scottish Government on sustainable fishing policy and First Minister Alex Salmond is a frequent visitor to Ondine.

Among other recent projects, Brett joined Paul Ainsworth in December 2012 to cook at a pop-up at the Padstow Christmas Food Festival. He is also working as a consultant to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, overseeing the redevelopment and relaunch of their landmark Argyll restaurant.

And as a barometer of how far he has come, in October 2012, Ondine came 24th in the The National Restaurant Awards top 100 restaurants list unveiled in London. The new ranking means he has now overtaken his former mentor, Rick Stein, whose Seafood Restaurant came 78th on the list.

The ranking confirms his philosophy that a restaurant can be recognised as one of the best in the UK without having a Michelin star. But he is aware that his hard work must go on.

"When we first started, we were around 80th on the list and then we got into the 50s and now we're down to 24th which shows progress. However, we've got to put it into perspective and make sure that we are getting better every year because it's consistency that counts," said Brett.

If the tally of 1,000 customers a week doesn't say it all, then take a look at the critics. They clearly believe that Brett's philosophy is putting Scotland on the tourism map, with the Fish 2 Fork Restaurant Guide describing Ondine as "among the best restaurants in the country" and the Times' Alex Renton claiming: "Since moving to Scotland, I've fallen in love with Roy Brett's brilliant fish restaurant, Ondine".

Ondine restaurant >>

Roy Brett appointed culinary director at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Restaurant >>

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