The Cow Shed in Aberdeenshire chef director Graham Buchan shares his favourite current dish, chats about his culinary heroes and lets us in on a kitchen disaster in Geneva.
What’s your favourite current dish?
It all comes down to good ingredients. You’ve got asparagus which came in in May so I’d put some grilled asparagus with parmesan and some nice cured meats or Parma ham – something really simple. You could even have it with Manchego cheese instead of parmesan.
What kind of food don’t you like?
There’s absolutely nothing I wouldn’t try. Everyone has different tastes but it’s my job as a chef – even if there was something I didn’t like, I’d have to bear in mind that other people do. I’ve experienced all sorts of food like sheep brain. If I’m cooking with it, I need to know what it tastes like!
What’s your star ingredient?
It’s hard to pick just one ingredient because there are just so many. I’ve worked in France and Switzerland so I love working with truffle and fois gras. Here at The Cowshed though we get lots of Scotch beef which is fantastic. We get it from McIntosh in Portlethen. We also get supplied by Aberdeenshire Highland Beef which is about 200 yards down the road, so you couldn’t get any
more local than that.
Where’s a good spot for foraging in the north east?
We’re based in Deeside so we’ve got Banchory, Aboyne, Ballater and Braemar nearby – it’s just a 10 or 15-minute drive before you hit some good foraging spots. During the summer there are loads of places there to look for wild mushrooms like chanterelles. Last year was very poor for mushrooms though because it was too hot – there wasn’t enough moisture for them. You can sometimes get wild strawberries and juniper berries as well in areas nearby.
What local produce do you use?
We try to use local produce whenever we can. The main ingredients in our restaurant dishes – like the beef, chicken, lamb, venison and fish – is all local. The fish comes straight from the North Sea – we are Marine Stewardship Certified for that. Skateraw Fisheries Aberdeen supply all our haddock for The Cowshed Fish and Chip Shop, then Blue Flag supply our fish for the restaurant. We use some of that at home as well – it’s good to get the kids used to it. It’s all about building childhood memories for them.
Who’s your favourite celebrity chef?
When I was a young chef and still at school, I looked up to Rick Stein. He cooks a lot of seafood and classical dishes which I really like. Albert Roux was the first I saw on TV though when I was 14 years old. He had opened Le Gavroche Restaurant in London with his brother Michel Roux and brought French haute cuisine to the UK for the first time. Twenty years later, I was cooking for Albert Roux at a private residence in Scotland and was privately nominated by Mr Roux to join The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. It’s a small world when you meet and cook for the chef who inspired you to go into hospitality.
What’s been your biggest kitchen disaster?
When I was working in Geneva in Hotel des Bergues we had a dinner service for about 180 people. I was put on the pastry section and I had to put together a sorbet in a silver goblet for this big party. I thought that the chef had said we were serving in 10 minutes, but I’d misunderstood. It was a French misunderstanding! The sorbets all melted because I’d put them out too early. I guess you could call that a foreign disaster.
Find out more about the Cowshed HERE.