Ryan Neill, executive chef at Cameron House on Loch Lomond speaks to Janie Manzoori-Stamford about working his way up the ranks and the hotel's new oyster bar.
How long have you been at Cameron House?
I started at Cameron House as a trainee chef in 2001 after working at a small local hotel, the Balloch hotel, for three years. Since then I've worked my way up through the ranks, taking roles including head chef in three different outlets and became executive sous chef for four years under two different executive chefs.
I'm now executive chef across the hotel's six kitchens, which cater for over 1,000 covers, and looking after a team of over 45 chefs and 25 kitchen porters.
How do you think you have benefited from staying in one place for so long?
I have got to know the entire business inside out and have been trained by some really talented chefs, including Simon Whitley, Colin Bussey and, latterly, Robert Hood. I've seen what works well and what hasn't worked so well for the Cameron House customer and been able to learn from that.
How does the food offer at Cameron House stand out?
We have four restaurants including the Cameron Grill, the Boathouse and the Claret Jug, which I oversee, plus Michelin-starred Wishart's at Loch Lomond. I always make sure we use locally sourced produce where possible including game and fresh seafood.
For example, the Cameron Grill is known for having some of the best steaks in Scotland - we use Angus beef from our supplier who is only 45 minutes from us and has been dry-aged for 21 days and cooked over coals on the Josper grill.
Traditional Scottish ingredients feature heavily on the menu. How has the haggis ice-cream fared?
We introduced the haggis ice-cream for Burns night this year, as an interesting way to enjoy a famed Scottish dish. We tend to utilise this product when guests are looking for that traditional Scottish menu but with our own twist and it has been very warmly received by our guests.
Tell us about the new Loch Fyne Oyster bar.
We have partnered with Loch Fyne Oyster Bar to expand our seafood offer at the Boat House restaurant, offering seasonal selections from the famous waters of neighbouring Loch Fyne. From June, guests can choose from a selection of fresh mussels, oysters, crab, lobster, prawns and marinated and cured salmon, including a whisky-cured salmon in true Scottish style. We will also have a dedicated "oyster sommelier" on hand.