Featuring Geoffrey Smeddle of The Peat Inn, Peat Inn, Fife
How long have you been a chef?
I started training in the summer of 2003 after completing a history degree. I had an uncle and aunt who at the time ran a hotel and restaurant in France. I spent a summer with them and loved everything about it, came back to London and started formal training in that September.
Why did you become a chef?
Most chefs would probably say it’s because they love cooking. And I do enjoy it of course, but for me what I love is the experience of eating out. I adore the pleasure of going to a beautiful restaurant and the exhilaration of everything unfolding around me. I think it’s like being like an audience member watching a play or opera taking place. There is an air of performance. At the theatre you enjoy the changing scenes and the developing narrative, it carries you through a particular path to a conclusion; similarly, a restaurant and a dinner offer distinct phases, a crescendo and a final denouement. Then there is the setting: there is an “off stage” which is the kitchen and there is definitely “on stage”, which is the dining room. As a guest you get to sit in the heart of the stage and be part of the production. I am comfortable working off stage and love relaxing on stage!
Whatever is fresh and just back in season. Oh, and butter.
Favourite or signature dish
Not sure we have a signature dish. I’ve tried but get bored of seeing the same thing day in day out. What I can say is that I’m very proud of our chocolate soufflé: it is dairy free, gluten free, a real show stopper and is made with chocolate made here in Scotland from bean to bar by Ali Gower from Edinburgh’s Chocolate Tree.
Favourite kitchen tool or equipment (apart from sharp knives)
A large dishwasher with a one minute cycle.
I’m lucky to have worked for several years for Chris Galvin who has undeniably shaped me as a chef. He is calm but demanding, focussed on great ingredients and very organised in everything. A great chef restaurateur. I am also a huge admirer of Michel Guérard for maintaining his place at the pinnacle of French gastronomy for five decades. What they both have in common is vision and persistence. These are vital qualities for success, no matter what your field.
Any food you can’t/won’t eat
No allergies, thankfully. I don’t eat intensively reared meat and I prefer to support smaller producers if possible.
Comfort food/guilty secret
I can’t walk past a good bakery without going in. I could live on bread, croissants and cakes. Well, I could give it a go…
If I’m going out to eat, and I can’t get a table at your place, where should I go?
For a Michelin starred experience in Scotland then head to the Lalique restaurant at Glenturret distillery. Mark Donald will be rewarded with a second star very, very soon. For something casual I love Rioja in Glasgow. Modern tapas, executed with real creativity and flair but also with deep understanding.
Stupidest customer or kitchen experience
I’ve had a vegan in the restaurant who tasted food from all the other plates from the guests at her table before asking for some of the squid ink tuile that were part of a scallop dish.
Geoff has been chef patron of The Peat Inn near Cupar since 2006. Not only is this the only village I know which is named after the inn itself, the food is fabulous beyond belief. We reviewed it here a couple of years ago.
If you go to visit - and you really should - treat yourself to an overnight stay and finish off with the finest breakfast known to man. You'll get all their details from their website.
One Door Closes ... Dulse Opens
One of the casualties of the pandemic which hit us hardest was the decision by Fred Berkmiller and wife Betty to close L'Escargot Blanc at 17 Queensferry Street. This was a great favourite of ours, not only the restaurant, but also the wine bar on the ground floor. The building had lain empty for a good length of time. So it's a great pleasure to see it reopening under the ownership of the energetic Dean Banks. When fully open, Dulse will comprise a wine and cocktail bar on the ground floor (now open), and a seafood restaurant on the first floor. According to press reports, Dean is aiming at the medium price market (no easy feat when you're talking fish and shellfish). Tom's Food! wishes Dean every success. Find his website here.