How I Got Here: Gary Robinson

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with Gary Robinson, executive chef of The Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, Hotel, Edinburgh

Gary Robinson, who was previously head chef to HRH the Prince of Wales and executive chef at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., joined The Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh as executive chef earlier this year.

Why restaurants?
Because almost everyone entering a restaurant is there to experience something they wouldn’t normally be able to do at home.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Stay focused and remain patient. It won’t happen tomorrow, but with hard work it’ll all make sense, eventually.

What do you do in your spare time?
Hang out with kid, who is the coolest two-year-old you’ll ever meet.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence whenever I happen to be in Italy. Otherwise, a bit closer to home there’s a great Japanese restaurant in a basement near where we live. Not giving the name away just yet.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
I’d love to volunteer more, somehow being able to do more for others.

What motivates you?
Doing something every day that could make my family proud.

Where was your last holiday?
Gran Canaria earlier this year. Surprised myself as to how great a holiday it actually was.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
It’s a toss-up between David Wilkinson and Pierre Chevillard. David told me to get the hell on with my career and set me up for success with some pretty well-timed words of wisdom; meanwhile, Pierre instilled hard graft, honesty and dedication right from the start.

What keeps you up at night?
Did I mention the two-year-old?

Worst business decision?
Trying to open restaurants in Kazakhstan, Tel Aviv and Nigeria, all at the same time.

Best business decision?
Sticking at it.

What are you reading at the moment?
Being back in Edinburgh, way too much Ian Rankin.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Learn your craft, properly. Be patient, practice and repeat. Do not climb too fast, being promoted quickly isn’t always a good thing long term.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
How we treat our supply chain. The produce we get in through the doors tends to come from passionate producers with real attachments to the land and the sea. Treating this oh so important part of the business with respect, paying a fair price, and engaging with them will make the world of difference to our industry.

CV to date

Born: Alexandria (Scotland), 1971

Education: ​Diploma in Professional Cookery with the Academy of Culinary Arts at Bournemouth College

1998-2005 - head chef | HRH The Prince of Wales at St. James' Palace, London
2005-2006 - chef patron | Grosvenor House, Dubai
2006-2010 - executive chef | Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi
2010-2011 - executive chef | The British Embassy, Washington D.C.
2011-2012 - culinary director | Rhubarb food design
2012-2013 - deputy director of restaurants | Condé Nast International (promoted to director of restaurants 2013-2018)
2018-2019 - executive chef | The Conduit, London
2019-present - executive chef | The Balmoral hotel, Edinburgh

Related topics: People

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