Flash-grilled: Amy Elles

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled Amy Elles  chef patron of The Harbour Café in Elie Fife Scotland

Related tags: Chef

The chef patron of The Harbour Café in Elie, Fife, on dining at The French Laundry, cooking for Raymond Blanc, and the importance of working in a restaurant you enjoy.

What was your first industry job?
Working in the prep kitchens in Harrods.

If you were not in kitchens, what would you do?
I think I would be a psychologist as I enjoy learning how people tick. I could also imagine myself as a human rights lawyer in another lifetime.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Raymond Blanc. I once cooked for him during a ski season. I was nervous but loved every second, he made such precise, warm and encouraging remarks on my food.  It was such an honour and by chance Richard Branson was eating with him! I was 25 at the time and I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. They both offered me jobs then and there.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Messy chefs.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Ooh that’s tricky, working in hospitality we get lots of unusual requests, but always try to make them happen.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
A light, elegant take on modern and traditional European.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
There was a TripAdvisor review complaining about the price of tea being too high and that it shouldn’t be more than 50p!

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Easy, a maurice.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Caviar and champagne; cheese soufflé and seasonal salad (paired with Alsace Riesling); grilled dover sole, boiled potatoes, sautéed spinach & garlic with mayonnaise (paired with white burgundy); chocolate truffles and griottines (with Poire Williams and coffee).

À la carte or tasting menu?
If I am trying a restaurant for the first time, I’ll usually go for the du jour and if its good then go back to try the tasting.

What is the best meal you have ever had in a restaurant? 
Difficult as there have been so many wonderful ones, but it must be The French Laundry in the US with my father and sister. We all received different tasting menus with different wine pairings and everyone in the restaurant was trying to work out who we were because we were getting such v.v.v.i.p. service!

If you were a restaurant dictator for one day what would you ban? 
Non-organic chicken.

What is your earliest food memory?
Licking my fingers having demolished a plate of garlic prawns when I was two or three… not much has changed since then!

Twitter of Instagram?
Definitely Instagram.

Favourite food and drink pairing? 
Oysters and champagne.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Keep your head down and work somewhere you enjoy, work hard and help others, do stages at the kitchens you are interested in before applying as it will give you a good idea if you would like to work there or not.

Related topics: Chef, People, Restaurant

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