Tell us a bit about your journey in this industry until reaching Knockinaam Lodge
Brittania Hotel, Manchester – Commis Chef
Gleneagles – 1st Commis
Mallory Court – Junior Pastry Chef
The Box Tree – Chef de Partie/Pastry
Inverlochy Castle – Pastry Chef
Llangoed Hall – Sous Chef
and finally Knockinaam Lodge
What are the ingredients you enjoy working with the most?
Drummore Lobster, Drummore Turbot, Skye Sea Scallops, Grouse and Speyside Angus Beef
What are the seasonal ingredients you look forward to working with every year?
Wild Garlic, Wet Garlic, Courgette Flowers, Fresh Blackcurrants and Epicure Potatoes all grown in the gardens at Knockinaam – Yummy!!
When it comes to presentation, do you follow a specific rule, base your dishes on other dishes you have seen before or decide as you text them for the first time?
I son’t follow any specific rules and we don’t test dishes before the first time. The five course tasting menu is well balanced and seasonal
Is there an ingredient you simply would prefer never to use?
Yes, Pike, too many bones.
What do you believe to be one of the nicest ingredient combinations for Autumn?
Highland Roe Deer with freshly picked Blackberries
What is your favourite type of food? What do you love eating at home?
It depends on the time of year, in the winter Corned Beef Hash and in the summer any type of Salads and chippy Fish & Chips. All year round – HP Sauce butties!
Do guests dictate what you serve according to what sells the most or do you try to always encourage them to try something new?
Do you keep an eye on the work of other chefs to see what they have been developing?
Not for the last 15 years
Is there a chef (or chefs) that inspires you?
Marco Pierre White in the early 90s, the Roux brothers and Raymond Blanc
What makes a happy professional kitchen?
Encouragement, being a good listener, movie quizzes, football coupons and playing frisbee at lunchtime
From the current menu, what dish is your personal favourite?
Hot Apple Crumble Soufflé with Double Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Is there a particular dish you have developed that you feel most proud of?
Slow Roast Fillet of Speyside Angus Beef with Pomme Pont-Neuf and Two Truffle Sauces
Thank you Tony!
What brought you to Stobo Castle?
An advertisement in our local paper for a Reservations Assistant, my first “proper” job after leaving university!
Have you had the experience of working at different hotels before?
Waitressing and bar work, in particular in the conference and banqueting department at The Balmoral Hotal in Edinburgh.
What do you find the most challenging aspects of your position?
Staying ahead of the game in terms of technology and social media
What do you look forward to at work every day?
Variety! Something different every day.
What do you love about the property the most?
The location – I have the best commute to work!
Is there a particular area of the hotel you love the most?
The stunning 25m ozone pool with beautiful views of the Scottish Borders countryside.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting their career in hospitality and is about to start working with marketing for the first time?
Get to know every detail about your products, packages and your target market as soon as possible – it makes them easier to sell.
What hotel booking platforms do you use when you travel yourself?
Usually Google, Tripadvisor and the hotel’s website.
Is there a marketing campaign by another hotel that you have been particularly impressed by? If yes which one?
Not by another hotel, but I think the creatives for the Visitscotland tv commercials are very effective and portray Scotland at its best.
In your experience, what has given you the best results in relation to return on investment: Digital Marketing or offline advertising?
I believe the best results are generated from using a combination of both digital and off-line, but if I had to choose, the more traditional forms of advertising still work well for Stobo.
Any trends or new consumer patterns you think other hotels should watch out for?
Don’t underestimate the power of Tripadvisor – we respond to every review, not just the negative ones, demonstrating high standards of customer care.
Thank you Jenni!
What is it that you love about the industry?
I love the variety you get in this industry both in terms of the actual work but more importantly the diverse range of guests I meet (or have the opportunity to meet) and interact with. Guests often have the most interesting stories to tell you and what comes across is that everyone’s needs are different and our job at The Airds is to try and satisfy those varying needs.
What brought you to The Airds Hotel?
I initially worked for the hotel just doing ad hoc projects, but then a member of staff left and I was offered a newly created job of reception/office manager which I thought sounded as though it could be interesting. There was no specific job description for the new role and I was a little unclear as to how I would fill the time – how wrong could I have been! The role is so varied and seems to encompass everything in the office and reception that when it is time to go home at the end of each day I hardly know where the time has gone!
Have you worked at other hotels before? If yes which ones?
No this is my first hotel and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else now!
What is it that you like the most about front of house?
I love the absolute variety that comes with front of house. One minute I am taking a reservation over the phone, next I am checking a guest into their room, after that I can be typing confirmation letters or organising a helicopter landing in the garden, or organising for a guest to take a trip on the Jacobite steam train. I always try and make the time to talk to guests as well as they are usually so interesting and I find that most guests also like to talk and find out about the staff at the hotel.
What do you think is the most important personality trait to work at front of house?
Flexibility and the ability to think on your feet! The range of questions and requests you get on a daily basis, even in an eleven bedroom hotel, is vast and therefore you have to have a fast mind and the ability to switch subject matters in your brain – I am usually pretty tired at the end of the day!
Do you have any funny story to tell, something that happened to you whilst working at a hotel that you are able to share?
I am far to discrete to say anything – what I would say however, is that sometimes you have to have a very good sense of humour in the hotel industry!
What do you love about the area?
The absolute beauty of the area with it’s stunning scenery and peace and quiet. We also get the most amazing sunsets, which can often clear the restaurant at night and Chef is never quite sure if the guests are coming back again – they always do of course, as the food is simply divine!
What is your favourite part of Scotland?
Port Appin of course – the best scenery on the West Coast of Scotland. There is no where better then the Scottish Highlands
Amongst Airds Hotel’s dishes which one you personally like the most and recommend?
That is an impossible question to answer as I love them all. Just when I think I have a favourite Chef as the habit of creating an even better dish. They are all fantastic and what is nice is that the staff get to sample every new dish so that should a guest ask we can describe all the dish’s having tried them ourselves – a good perk of the job!
Amongst Airds Hotel’s bedrooms which one is your favourite and why?
It used to be the Master Suite, then room 24 was re-decorated and that became y favourite and then last December room 22 was completely refurbished and that became my favourite – so watch this space!
What is the hardest part of the job?
Whilst I simply love the variety of my job it can sometimes be a little frustrating as it can be difficult to finish a job! However I would not swap it for the world.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting their career in hospitality and is about to work at reception for the first time?
Learn to be flexible and never be frightened to use your own initiative. You also have to have a basic love of people and if you have a good understanding of people then this will help as well. Always put the guest first because at the end of the day that is why we are all here at The Airds – the guest must always come first and never compromise quality.
What hotel booking platforms do you use when you travel yourself?
I do not tend to use booking platforms when I travel – my husband is my booking channel!
Do you use social media to look for offers for yourself as well? Which platforms you use the most?
Again I do not tend to use social media much. I think that as I work in the hotel industry when it comes to booking a holiday my husband tends to do it all, I just have the final say!