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This much I know: Stuart Muir

26 April 2016 by

Late in 2015, chef Stuart Muir opened Dine with Stuart Muir with business partner Paul Brennan in the heart of Edinburgh. Here he shares his wisdom, gleaned from a 30-year career, with Neil Gerrard

I have always been involved in the countryside, flyfishing and shooting with my father

From a very young age, my father used to make me gut the pheasant and the duck because my hands were so small. I learned how to do it properly and appreciate the flavour of how things should be and I think that is what got me started. There seemed to be no other option for me when it came to a career. I always knew that I wanted to be a chef.

Hospitality offers you some great opportunities. The fantastic thing about being a chef is that you have the opportunity to travel and tour around the UK and the world. I have done stages in Canada, France, and I gained a Michelin star at 23 years old at Knockinaam Lodge [as head chef under executive chef Tony Pierce].

You don't want to be a dinosaur. This profession never stands still. There are always new products and new techniques and some are fads and some are not. You need to be part of that and have enthusiasm around you. The fire in my belly remains there because of the staff I have around me and vice versa. I don't rubber-stamp a menu. New dishes are created not just by myself but through myself, my head chef James, and the others - encouraging the guys to put their ideas onto the plate. The team needs the freedom and the confidence to bring these things to the table. I embrace that.

You can't ever forget that the customer is part of the restaurant. There isn't a restaurant without the customer - they are just as important as the core members of staff who provide the service. I like to have an open pass so that people can look in and come have a chat about what they want and then go back to their table and feel part of the restaurant.

We don't mind people making mistakes so long as they care about the mistake. I think that is key to the success of any business. You are going to drop a spoon or a glass of wine, or you take the wrong order or the chef overcooks a piece of cod. It is human error. I don't want it to be an environment where people are petrified of doing so. So long as you say sorry and speak to the customer and let them know, they will be fine, they are not in a rush. You have got to have the right attitude and to be proud of what they are doing and be able to make suggestions and comments.

I haven't changed the way I feel about how I cook or what I do here. But since I moved from Harvey Nichols, the shackles are gone, so to speak. I want people to know that they can come as often as they want or as little as they want, but that they come and support a local chef trying to bring something special to the city. If I can get the staff embracing what I embrace, then the customers will embrace it as well.

CV

2002-2016 Executive chef, Forth Floor Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie, Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh

2001-2002 Executive chef, the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, St Andrews

1998-2001 Head chef, Malmaison hotel, Edinburgh and Malmaison Hotel, Glasgow

1997-1998 Senior sous chef, Hadrians, Edinburgh

1996-1997 Senior sous chef, Number One, the Balmoral hotel, Edinburgh

1988-1995 Head chef, Knockinaam Lodge, Portpatrick

1987-1988 Chef de partie, Hafton Country Club, Dunoon

1986 Demi chef de partie, Mowberry's Restaurant, Hurstpierpoint, Brighton

1986 First Commis, Dunblane Hydro, Dunblane

1985-1986 Commis chef, Downshire Arms hotel, Portpatrick

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