Head Chef, Ross Stovold, The Torridon

What inspired you to become a chef?

When I was at school I had a part time job in a local pub which I really enjoyed. I also did some office-based work experience and saw people who seemed to exist for the weekend. There and then I decided that office or corporate life wasn’t for me.

What do you find most satisfying about your work?

I believe that there is always room for improvement in the kitchen, from the dishes to the way we nurture ingredients to team management.

And least?

It’s far easier to criticise creativity than to be creative. Critics are entitled to an opinion but it should be educated and informed rather than be based on personal taste.

Is there a chef you particularly admire, and if so why?

I greatly admire chef Mark Lacono from Lucali in New York. He wanted to do something for his neighbourhood and he has succeeded.

Is there any aspect of the contemporary food scene that you find especially irritating?

I don’t follow trends from the ‘best restaurants in the world’ because, whilst they are undeniably serving fantastic dishes, a beach hut in Bali can easily serve equally amazing flavours with simple grilled fresh fish. I read up on the ‘best restaurants in the world’ because I am interested obviously, and I pick up ideas here and there but it is essential to establish your own individual style and constantly improve by asking questions and challenging yourself. My dishes are led by my suppliers and my creativity is inspired by my surroundings.

Describe your perfect dining companion or guest.

I enjoy talking to all of our guests about the produce from the kitchen garden and the farm and about how we work effectively while located in a remote part of the country.

Are there any food critics whose opinions you respect, and if so why?

I’ve never met a food critic so I can’t say I have a favourite. I would like to meet a food critic and give him or her the opportunity to experience The Torridon as a whole to create context and that includes the location, the changing seasons, the way we work as a team, as a well as the food of course.

What’s the most important thing to bear in mind when cooking your recipes at home?

The recipes are a guideline, nothing is ever perfect. Don’t get caught up in the words, cook how you want and share the food with someone you want to spend time with.

The Torridon
Achnasheen, Wester Ross