Pearls of Wisdom: Martin Wishart

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Marco pierre white, Le gavroche, Scotland, Edinburgh

Martin Wishart plans to expand The Honours concept to Glasgow next
Martin Wishart plans to expand The Honours concept to Glasgow next
Michelin-starred Scottish chef Martin Wishart is behind two fine-dining restaurants in Leith and Loch Lomond, as well as the recently opened The Honours in central Edinburgh.

It’s a fast-paced service at The Honours.​ As much as I like running the kitchen in Leith, it can be a bit quiet and organised.

The past 11 years has been fine dining,​ but I’ve done some consultancy with big number operations so I know what I’m doing.

I saved up money from working to buy the lease of my first restaurant, ​tiled the kitchen myself with the help of my brothers, painted the walls and opened the doors. It wasn’t anything lavish, but I look back at those early days in Leith as some of the best in my career.

I could have worked at Aubergine, ​but changed my mind at the last minute and went and worked with Marco Pierre White. After that I decided I’d pretty much had enough of working for other people in fine-dining restaurants.

We’re looking to set up an apprenticeship scheme within the business.​ We’re currently talking to Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh to make sure we get it right.

I own my own company. ​I’ve always invested back into the business. I see The Honours as an investment. The Michelin star market in Edinburgh is healthy, but it’s approaching its saturation point.

I’m going to move staff around to give them a broader culinary experience.​ That’s what I observed when I worked for Marco and Michel Roux.

I’ve just been given an honorary degree from Edinburgh University​ for raising the standards of Scottish cuisine internationally. If I’m honest it’s better than getting any award from a guide.

We don’t have any items on higher purchase, ​I’d rather wait another year until we can afford it. I’m all about minimising risk.

I left school at 15 and went straight into the kitchen.​ I worked with Michel Roux Jr the year he took over Le Gavroche. After that I worked under Marco Pierre White at the dining room at the former Hyde Park Hotel, now Mandarin Oriental.

David Ramsden [the man behind the Edinburgh-based Dogs restaurant group] is very talented. ​What he’s done is fantastic, it’s very difficult to make money at that level.

My first restaurant wasn’t much, but it was clean.​ There was one person front-ofhouse and two guys in the kitchen.

Would I consider opening in London?​ I’m always open to new ideas. My wife is French but she grew up in Mexico City – we’ve been offered places over there. I don’t know what we’re going to do in the future, but right now I’m happy gradually expanding in Scotland.

Don’t overborrow when you start up. ​Running a restaurant is tough as it is.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the restaurateurs at the time,​ but when I came back to Edinburgh in 1999 the food was shit.

I worked in America for a year and a half​ because I wanted to learn about their approach to front-of-house service. They still do it better than us.

The Honours would be well suited to Glasgow, ​that’s where we’ll go next.

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