The chef bringing Prince Charles’ restaurant to life

Head chef Ross Cochrane, Scotch Lamb Chef of the Year, has played his part in establishing the Rothesay Rooms as a must-visit eaterie.

Prince Charles’ Scottish restaurant is helping revive Ballater, in Aberdeenshire, and Ross’ tasty creations are playing a crucial role.

What’s your favourite February dish?

I love using duck in February. In the restaurant we use a lot of fruit to coun – terbalance the meat. Duck breast with a pear and ginger purée is fantastic, served with rainbow carrots.

What kind of food don’t you like?

Mushrooms. I had a bad experience with them when I was a child! I just got married though and my wife is half-Italian, so you can imagine the controversy when I said: ‘I don’t like mushrooms’ at the dinner table.

What’s your star ingredient?

Thyme is such a basic ingredient but I just love it. Venison is probably my favourite thing to cook with thyme. Add in some garlic and shallots with a red wine sauce – you can’t go wrong. At home you can cook with the wine and drink it at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!

What local produce do you use at home?

At home I use the same suppliers as we do for The Rothesay Rooms. We’ve got a great butcher in Alford called Wark Farm. The whole reason behind the restaurant was to support local businesses to help the community after that big storm, so that’s what I’ve tried to stick to. We even have gamekeepers on the surrounding estates and they send their meat to local butchers and we get it from there. Balnault Farm is another great one – they’re just six miles from our doorstep.

Who’s your favourite celebrity chef?

Marco Pierre White – he’s just so brutally honest. He handed back his Michelin stars in the early 90s because he didn’t want to be judged by people who know less about food than he does. He’s definitely the godfather in my eyes.

What’s been your biggest kitchen disaster?

One year there was really bad weather and we had a power cut. It was during a Hogmanay dinner. We were cooking the main course, so we just had to serve what we could. We just got heaps of candles and lit them all around – it was really creepy, but the customers were happy enough and let us crack on.

Where’s a good spot for foraging?

I know of a few places for foraging but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. There are quite a lot out there though. Alford is a really good spot for mushrooms and herbs – my father-in-law took me up there a couple of years ago. Obviously you’ve just got to be careful what you pick. Especially with mushrooms – that
could end up being a very different dining experience…