The five-star hotel have just announced the appointment of Paul Hart. He brings 28 years of experience after spells at Cringletie House Hotel in Peebles, The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews, Gleneagles and The Scotsman Hotel.
In his new role, he’ll be overseeing the venue’s various food and beverage offerings, including Palm Court and Number One at The Balmoral. We asked him about the job.
Are you excited about the challenge?
“I’ve inherited a great solid base to work from at The Balmoral and I’m looking forward to continuing to enhance our guests' culinary experience. I’ll not only be looking at the offerings in each of our different restaurants and bars, but also organising training and development for the team, ensuring they feel supported and happy. Retention is so important to me. At The Balmoral we have flexible working hours, good pay and you get to work with some amazing local ingredients, so there is a lot to work with and it’s presenting an exciting challenge for sure.”
What was the interview process like?
“Meeting the team and getting the job was such a great feeling, as was knowing I was taking the next step in my career at an iconic venue. I was, of course, sad to be leaving Gleneagles where I had spent a very happy seven years, but I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”
What will your new role involve?
“I’ll oversee all aspects of food within the hotel, developing and nurturing the talent we have in the culinary department with 50-plus chefs, from apprentices to head chefs. I will be working hard to continue the hotel’s legacy as a cornerstone of the culinary landscape in Edinburgh and Scotland, while building on the relationships with suppliers and putting emphasis on sourcing the very best produce available.
"Offering training and development opportunities is a huge passion of mine. Passing on knowledge and skills to the future generations is vitally important to keeping this industry alive. I’m really looking forward to bringing this to my role and ensuring there are some great opportunities for the team in the pipeline.”
Are you moving to Edinburgh? Which restaurants do you rate here?
“I haven't had to relocate as I live in Dalgety Bay, so it's just a short trip on the train to get across the Forth.
“As for restaurants, I moved to Scotland 19 years ago and when I had my first day off from my new job I came into Edinburgh with my wife, where we had lunch at Martin Wishart and dinner at Number One on the same day. I remember being so inspired by what they were doing and in awe of The Balmoral. It's an incredible feeling to have come full circle. I’m still a huge fan of Number One and looking forward to seeing our talented chef de cuisine Mathew Sherry's career develop.
“Edinburgh has such a strong culinary scene and I plan to spend some time going out to do some more market research. I’m always hearing recommendations, so in the new year I’ll be trying some places on my list.”
Who are your favourite suppliers?
“Over my 19 years in Scotland I have built great relationships with many suppliers, some small producers and some larger ones. All are so important. Consistency is essential, so l love using my existing and trusted suppliers, but I’m always keeping an eye out for great new ones to try too. Currently we are working with John Gilmour for our meat, Welch Fishmongers and Wellocks for our fruit and veg.”
What are your favourite eating experiences at The Balmoral?
“It’s an impossible choice. All the restaurants offer something different depending on what you are looking for, though a dinner in Number One has always been a favourite. Palm Court's Afternoon Tea is such a unique experience. Brasserie Prince has stunning interiors and serves great food in a more relaxed atmosphere.”
How did you end up working in hotels?
“I came up through the ranks in a mix of hotels and stand-alone restaurants. I always thought I would have my own restaurant one day, It’s a dream that most young chefs have.
"I found myself in hotels and really enjoyed the range of culinary offerings. You can get a diverse education, from working in fine dining to mass catering in banqueting and in-room amenities for guests. All of this combined makes for a great training ground for chefs. We are very lucky that we have a hotel made up of separate dining experiences and offer a lot of variety and creativity.”
Are standards getting higher?
“Guest expectations are always quite rightly high when they visit a five-star hotel. People are travelling the world more and experiencing high-quality service internationally, that's why The Balmoral being the only hotel in Scotland with a Forbes Five Star rating is such an honour. It’s important that we continuously reflect on our customer expectations at an international level, so we can exceed them.
“Guest dietary requirements are also increasing, so you have to be very scrupulous in menu design and allergen information and we are seeing more plant based products coming to market – not just for vegans, but for people taking a step back from a meat heavy diet. It’s not for everyone. I have tried a vegan diet, but didn't last very long. I now appreciate how much effort and care it takes to create incredible vegan cuisine.”