David Smith Head Chef The Dipping Lugger. Credit Alex Baxter Photography
David Smith Head Chef The Dipping Lugger. Credit Alex Baxter Photography

In a nutshell, Chef David Smith: ‘I tried pig’s brain once, it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten’

David Smith is the Head Chef at The Dipping Lugger in Ullapool, Wester Ross.

 

What’s the closest thing you have to a signature dish: 

I’d have to say it would be our scallop dish in which we use both the meat and the roe in a sauce to be served with it. 

Describe your style of cuisine in ten words: 

It’s simple, honest and local but we twist it too. 

Best and/or most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten: 

Casamia in Bristol, 23 courses that were unreal. 

Worst/weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten:

Pigs brain or eye…not my favourite. 

Worst thing you’ve ever cooked:

I made squid ink gnocchi a couple years back to go with a cod dish and scrapped the whole thing, they were that bad. 

What’s the dish that you’re most proud of having cooked: 

The Blackthorn Sea Salt dessert we do as it’s all designed around the salt. 

Favourite ingredient (could be an ingredient or spice which transforms dishes): 

Lime. I love acid with my food.

Your go-to recipe book: 

The Square by Phil Howard. 

What other country’s cuisine really excites and intrigues you? 

Moroccan. Salted lemons and harissa are something I love to use at home. 

Most you’ve ever paid for a meal:

I can’t say as my mum would slap me. £830 at Cail Bruich. 

Your favourite Scottish chef:

Billy Boyter or Martin Wishart. 

Favourite chef outside Scotland:

Mickael Viljanen from Chapter One in Dublin (I’m desperate to go) or Simon Rogan at L’Enclume in the Lake District. 

Who taught you to cook or ignited your passion for food as a youngster: 

I didn’t grow up around cooks, but my mum makes a fantastic split pea and ham soup. 

Most important lesson a young chef can learn: 

To remember that it’s about learning and not how much money you can make, it’s a harsh truth but you need to start at the bottom and fight your way up with passion and dedication to the craft. 

Culinary mentor – the most important person in your development as a professional chef: 

Charlie Lockley, I spent the best time of my earlier career learning under him, and he taught me so much, not only about how to cook but also how to act with calmness in the kitchen. 

Best thing about the industry: 

How creative it is, we’re all always learning. 

Worst thing about the industry:

The lack of young people wanting to get into the trade. 

What’s the biggest sin a chef can commit: 

I dislike immensely when I catch a chef with hands in their pockets.

What do you eat when you’re at home:

I’ve been eating a lot more vegetarian dishes at home, so lots of pastas and lentils, but I do love making pizzas and so do the kids.

Celebrity guest or your perfect dinner party – who would you most like to cook for:  

Jeremy Clarkson and after he can take me for a spin in one of his cars. 

Tell me a something about you that virtually no-one knows: 

I need white noise to sleep. 

What’s your favourite wine? 

Krug Champagne hands down. 

Your spirit of choice? 

Dalmore whisky. I live right beside the distillery, so it’s a given. 

Do you play music in the kitchen and, if so, what’s your go-to track or artist:

I tend to listen to podcasts about football, but if we listen to music we just put it on shuffle and let Spotify do its thing. I don’t like to spend time playing on my phone during work. 

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be: 

No 9 for Rangers, I’ve not given up hope yet!

 

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