Derek Livingston General manager, Livingston's restaurant , Linlithgow

08 June 2006
Derek Livingston General manager, Livingston's restaurant , Linlithgow

Derek Livingston, 40, has clocked up 13 years at his family's restaurant in Linlithgow, West Lothian, which is situated in the shadow of Linlithgow Palace, once the home of Mary Queen of Scots.

Originally keen to follow in his father's footsteps as a motor mechanic, he became interested in catering through his mother, who ran event-catering company CLK Direct.

The Livingstons had talked for many years about opening a restaurant and, in preparation, Derek attended Falkirk College and then Queen Margaret University College in Edinburgh in the early to mid-1990s. He achieved a degree in hospitality management.

In 1993 the family bought the restaurant and Derek became its first chef. Within the first year Livingston's had earned two AA rosettes for its modern Scottish cuisine, an accolade it has held ever since.

Derek believes the key to the 44-seat restaurant's success is consistency, and there have been only three chefs at the restaurant since opening.

The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday with a healthy waiting list at the weekend. The Livingstons decided from the start that they would close the business four times a year to give everyone a chance to recharge and "go somewhere with no mobile phones".

With the kitchen running well, Derek took on front of house in 1996, as he felt it was important that a Livingston was out front looking after the clientele.

In 1998, aged 32 and worn out, Derek took a job as a flight attendant for Air2000 based at London Gatwick.

Two years of working in a "metal tube" followed before he bowed to the inevitable and returned to the family business.

Derek believes being calm and having an easy-going nature are key in his job. As it's a small operation, all staff are expected to muck in when needed and not get too hung up on job titles.

Derek's role reflects this. He looks after bookings and planning for weddings and functions, and works with head chef Julian Wright planning the menu, which features ingredients such as saddle of venison and Aberdeen Angus beef.

"You don't enter this industry for the salary. I still do 60 hours a week with little social life, but that's the business. You do it because you love it and have a real passion for it," he says.

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