HIGH FRYERS: SCOTLAND’S CHEF-PATRONS MAKING THEIR MARK ON THE SCOTTISH CULINARY SCENE

CHRIS CHARALAMBOUS Cail Bruich, Glasgow Chris Charalambous is chef-patron at Glasgow’s Cail Bruich. His business partner is his brother Paul. What does he enjoy about being a chef patron? Said Chris, “You have total control over the people you hire and what you cook, but your focus can get drawn elsewhere at the start, like payroll and staffing issues, until you become more successful and have the wherewithal to employ people to do these things for you.” In terms of customer trends, Chris said, “Customers want the story behind the provenance in a market saturated by chain restaurants and they are generally more discerning. I’ve also observed that customers are generally eating less, with three courses being enough for them to feel satisfied, as well as being far far more health-conscious in a city that once had a reputation for poundage and for ordering meat and two veg.” He continued, “Ignore social media and online reviews at your peril. It’s good to have the luxury of being able to employ people that specialise in this because technology always moves on so fast. Instagram will no doubt soon be replaced by the next big social media platform.”

GEOFFREY & KATHERINE SMEDDLE The Peat Inn, St Andrews, Fife History graduate Geoffrey Smeddle, originally from Kent, kind of fell into being a chef-patron, while wif Katherine, who manages front of house, did a degree in Hospitality Management. They took over the one Michelin star Peat Inn in 2006. Said Geoffrey, “I was lucky enough to be able to work in my aunt and uncle’s restaurant in France one summer and I was hooked after that. I worked in several restaurants before we acquired The Peat Inn, including for Conran in Glasgow.” So how has the business, and their roles, changed in the last 12 years? Said Geoffrey, “Katherine’s has changed the most. She’s gone from working in the restaurant to being a GM, and looking after HR and marketing etc. My role as chef has remained pretty much the same, whereas customer habits have changed.” He continued, “There’s far more engagement from guests and the role of the chef is almost like playing to an audience, plus people eat out more and they are prepared to travel to a destination restaurant, and we work very hard to make this a destination restaurant.”

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