Elite chef James McCulloch Thomson is taking charge of the kitchen at the four-star Macdonald Forest Hills & Spa in Aberfoyle.
Owned by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, Forest Hills has recently undergone a £3.5 redesign and refurbishment, and has taken another step forward with James’ appointment as Executive Head Chef. McCulloch Thomson has worked with Glasgow Royal Concert Hall amongst others since returning from a seven-year spell in Melbourne, Australia in 2013.
He said, “Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa has an iconic Scottish setting and it is a true honour to be appointed as executive head chef. It’s an exciting time in the hotel’s history, with the property just completing a major transformation and this role was just too good an opportunity to miss.”
Highlights of James’ menu will include scallop and sea bass ceviche, warm citrus puddings with yoghurt and blueberries and one pot braised pork belly with black pudding and apple.
He continued, “My style of food offers a simple and lighter way to eat, yet with multi-layered flavour and texture combinations and the odd bit of quirkiness. For me basing the menus around Scotland’s larder is key. It’s by far and away the best there is and I’ll be focusing on seasonality and using the best suppliers and producers, from the fishermen and farmers to gamekeepers.
“The thing I get most pleasure out of is teaching and watching young chefs grow and progress within the industry. It gives me a great sense of pride to see them follow their own paths and the best advice I can give is to come in to the trade with the right attitude and the desire to learn and then adapt and dream big.”
General Manager Andrew Deighan is thrilled to have a renowned operator with over 30 years’ experience in the business in charge of Forest Hills’ culinary output.
He commented, “James is an outstanding chef and we are very excited to have him join our team. We are looking forward to welcoming our regular guests as well as new customers to experience his fantastic dishes. James will be working closely with the teams here and our suppliers to develop new menus and fresh ideas for our restaurants.”
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts was established in 1990 by Donald Macdonald and colleagues and now employs over 4,500 staff and operates 55 hotels across the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Based in rural Stirlingshire, Forest Hills Hotel & Spa is surrounded by 25 acres of landscaped gardens and looks out onto Loch Ard. James will be working out of the AA Rosette winning Garden Restaurant and Rafters Bar & Bistro.