Celebrating British Food Fortnight at The Castle

Dalhousie Castle’s Head Chef Pedro Barriera may not have been born in Scotland but he’s hugely passionate about the local produce on offer here. And with responsibility for overseeing the food in Dalhousie’s two AA rosette Dungeon Restaurant, Orangery Restaurant and extensive banqueting, his love of Scottish ingredients is shining through in his cooking.

In readiness for British Food Fortnight, we quizzed Pedro about his love of Scottish food and his influences.

Describe your cooking style in three words*

Modern, classical techniques, local produce.

*Pedro failed with the three words, but we’ll let him off!

Three of your favourite local producers?

We have a tremendous choice of ingredients on our doorstep and Scotland is home to some of the finest produce available to eat anywhere in the world thanks to its unique climate and terrain. I take the principles of only using, where possible, local, seasonal ingredients and adding a special twist to create a unique dining experience.

We use Scottish foraging experts, Coeur Sauvage, to supply us with mushrooms, garlic, seaweed and sea vegetables – all wild and super local to us.

Our meat predominantly comes from Campbells Prime Meats, based locally on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Their premium Scottish beef, most of which is Aberdeen Angus, all carries the Scotch Beef label meaning that the cattle were born, reared and processed here on farms that adhere to the highest welfare and sustainable farming practices. The animals are grass-fed, a diet that nature intended, slow grown and the meat is hand cut by master butchers. In short, it’s a quality product and this shows in the depth of flavour.

Lastly, I wanted to mention Sommerville Free Range Eggs, just three miles down the road from the castle. They’re a family-run farm and have been supplying us with super fresh eggs for years.

Favourite ingredient to cook with?

Halibut is probably my personal favourite – and certainly my favourite fish. Having grown up on the north coast of Spain, I ate a lot of fresh fish and seafood and in my mind you can never have too much of a good thing! On the menu at Dalhousie Castle, we have a classical French dish of halibut with chicken and langoustines which is hard to beat.

Beef would come a close second for me. My childhood was spent on our family farm in the countryside and beef featured heavily in our cooking. I may not hail from the UK but I do love a traditional Sunday roast.

Guilty pleasure?

Well, you won’t find me eating a deep-fried Mars bar anytime soon, but I love a good haggis supper.

Most memorable meal?

That would have to be the wedding breakfast on my wedding day. We married in Spain and had a starter of langoustines, spider crabs and lobster, followed by a second course of fish soup. Beef for the main and then we dived into the wedding cake!

Most admired chef?

An easy one for me. Darin Campbell who was my Head Chef for around two years. I was his Junior Sous Chef when the restaurant won a Michelin Star – still one of the proudest moments of my career. He is one of the calmest people I’ve worked for and hugely inspirational to me. He’s now Executive Head Chef at Cromlix Hotel in Perthshire, owned by tennis player Andy Murray.

What are you plans for the kitchen at Dalhousie?

Right now, we’re focusing on increasing the range of vegetarian and vegan starters and main courses in response to customer feedback.

What’s the must-try dish on the menu?

The Halibut dish on our current menu – it’s pan fried and served with herb spaetzle, chicken wings, artichokes and girolle mushrooms with a beautiful sauce lie de vin. Delicious!

Who does the cooking at home?

Me! I genuinely love cooking and so I’m happy to come home and continue my day job.

What do you like to eat at home?

Raclette has to be one of my favourites.

Team savoury or team sweet?

Team savoury all the way!