Chef Watch Featuring Calum Montgomery of Edinbane Lodge, Skye
Featuring Calum Montgomery of Edinbane Lodge, Isle of Skye
How long have you been a chef?
I’ve been working in kitchens for almost 19 years now! Scrubbed my first professional pot in early 2004 whilst still in school (aged14) but started to make my way through the ranks at 16.
Why did you become a chef?
I didn’t know I wanted to be a chef until I stopped being one.
I worked in kitchens from 14-17 for the money, had no passion or desire to be a chef until I moved to Glasgow to study business management. Half-way through my course I realised how much I loved cooking and decided to give it my full attention. It’s been a passion ever since. All in all, I just love food.
Hand dived scallops. So versatile, quick to cook, easy to spot quality, sustainable and delicious.
Favourite or signature dish
Right now, my favourite dish on our menu is our three year old Hebridean mutton, hand reared by our wine supplier Petri who lives just 15 miles away. They have a small croft holding along the road from my grandfather’s birthplace. We love their produce. We serve it with organic carrots grown by our groundskeeper Willie, accompanied with pickled girolles foraged from the glens of western Skye.
Skye mutton is quite exceptional. In my view, it’s an under-appreciated ingredient. Mutton formed a staple in my grandparents’ diet, along with herring and mackerel but I truly believe now it’s a luxury ingredient. The depth of flavour is quite incredible. It’s not often served up in a fine dining environment but we include it for our guests as I feel the flavour is so distinct that it actually imparts an essence of Skye.
Favourite kitchen tool or equipment (apart from sharp knives)
This may sound a little boring but I am very excited over our walk-in fridge we are installing. It’s a very small part of a much bigger development we have planned for the Lodge over next year but, it will literally be a game changer for us.
We will be more organised than ever with it and can plan our menus further in advance to make the most of the summer harvest on Skye. A great asset for preservation and pickling processes for the winter months ahead.
Salting and pickling was a way of life here in the not too distant past and we are re-discovering some of these age old culinary traditions while adding some of our own nuanced flavours, twists and techniques.
Magnus Nilson was the first chef I truly admired for his commitment to using produce only available in his local area of Are, Sweden. I travelled specifically to visit Faviken in 2016 to get a taste of the landscape and surroundings, it did not disappoint.
Most recently I’ve taken great interest in reading about the late Hebridean chef Murdo Alex Macritchie who had an incredible passion for discovering ancient island techniques. There will be a book released soon posthumously of his work which I’m really looking forward to. He is someone that I think will be known as a real food hero for Hebridean cooking.
Any food you can’t/won’t eat
Tripe. Can’t hack it. I’m game for almost anything else.
Comfort food/guilty secret
Chinese takeaway. Salt and chilli anything.
If I’m going out to eat, and I can’t get a table at your place, where should I go?
If you are visiting Skye I would highly recommend Loch Bay and ScorryBreac for dinner and either BIRCH or Café Cuil for breakfast, lunch or brunch. Make the most of the trip and visit us all .
Michael Smith, Calum Munro, Niall Munro and Clare Coghill are great friends, fantastic ambassadors for Skye and I love visiting their places. I have huge respect for them all, as they share our love for the food and our island heritage. I think that’s what drives us.
Stupidest customer or kitchen experience
On my first day as Head Chef in a Michelin starred restaurant I asked the KP to clean the commercial fryer in the kitchen. He wasn’t paying attention, cleaned the whole fryer without switching it off and then added fresh oil to an already smoking appliance.
When it burst into flames he just ran away from it. If it hadn’t been for some very deft fire blanket work the restaurant would have burnt to the ground on my first day!.
Calum Montgomery has been chef patron of Edinbane Lodge in Skye since 2017. He and his family gave it a full renovation, opening the following year. They have just been awarded four AA Rosettes – the only restaurant across the entire Highlands to achieve this honour, and one of just six restaurants in Scotland with that rating.
Four Rosettes is denoted by the AA as “among the top restaurants in the UK, where the cooking demands national recognition. These restaurants exhibit intense ambition, a passion for excellence, superb technical skills, and remarkable consistency. They will combine appreciation of culinary traditions with a passionate desire for further exploration and improvement.” The award coincides with the publication of the 2023 guidebook.
To find out more about Edinbane, visit their website at www.edinbanelodge.com.
On The Side will return on 9 November
An excellent story. Maybe one day I will return to Skye.
I think we all have horror stories of KPs and fryers. At least mine is with cold oil.
Much respect, chef.
I liked how Calum referred to traditional Hebridean food and traditions – sounds like he has his roots firmly on the island. I particularly like the line about people tasting in his food an essence of Skye. Thanks Tom, for pointing us in his direction.