Pearls of Wisdom: Craig Dunn

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Executive chef, Chef

Craig Dunn is executive chef at  The Abode in Glasgow
Craig Dunn is executive chef at The Abode in Glasgow
Craig Dunn, executive chef at the Abode hotel in Glasgow shares his experiences and advice on the industry

Craig Dunn has been executive chef at the Abode in Glasgow​ since March 2008. He won Restaurant Chef of the Year in this year's Scottish Chef awards​ and his passion for using locally-sourced produce at the Michael Caines fine dining restaurant helped it achieve the highest score for Glasgow in the 2009 edition of the Good Food Guide. He travelled the world as a chef on the QE2 before returning to Glasgow to work at the Langs Hotel and then the Abode.

I’d never worked with Michael (Caines) before I took this job.​ He comes up when he can and looks at the menu. If he wants to put a bit of input in he does but generally I do the menus myself. Each Abode has a different menu, because of the local focus. We can't have the same menu as Abode in Exeter for obvious reasons.

Sometimes it can be hard work sourcing local produce, ​but it’s worth it. You may just pay that little bit extra but I don’t think people are daft. If they are ordering a premium product they accept that it costs a bit extra. I can buy cheap ingredients but I don’t want to.

I wish a lot of chefs would just put a little bit extra effort in and not just accept what comes through the door​. You have to have a really good working relationship with your supplier and get to know them so they know that you won’t accept anything that’s not grade A quality. I wish a lot of chefs would. I think a lot more are, I just wish more would.

Chefs get bored cooking the same dishes all the time.​ If a dish is on the menu for three weeks I take it off, even if people like it.

I don’t think diners are interested in awards.​ (my Restaurant Chef of the Year award) is more of an industry award I think. It's great to receive one, but if your restaurant’s not busy then the accolade’s not great at all. I think every chef strives to win awards but my award hasn’t had a major impact on business.

I think the ultimate accolade for any chef is a Michelin star.​ I'd love to be the first place in Glasgow to have one. I know Gordon Ramsay had one, but Amaryllis hasn't been here for a while. I think if you’re consistent and if you get recognition then I think you’re in with a shout.

I worked on cruise ships for four years.​ I was young and it was a great experience. You travel the world and you spend six months in places like the Caribbean, but it's incredibly hard work. You don't get a day off in six months. I'd recommend it to anyone for a year, but it wasn't a long term career choice for me.

Working in a restaurant within a hotel has lots of challenges.​ I have a cafe bar as well downstairs that I have to keep my eye on and we might have a buffet to do and room service. There's a lot more going on than in just one restaurant. We have to be diverse and cater for everyone in a hotel.

I think you need a good team behind you to succeed.​ I've got a great head chef and a great sous chef who give me the support I need.

If I could work anywhere in the world it would be at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.​ I'd love to work for a couple of weeks in their restaurant to see how it all works, just to see how they go about their day to day business.

I like Glasgow, my friends are here and it's where I'm from.​ It would have to be something really exciting, and probably the love of a good woman to tempt me away.

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