The Lovat's chef, Sean Kelly, on his favourite ingredient and guilty pleasure

This chef answers our food-related questions

Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly

What’s your favourite ingredient?

Salt because of its multiple uses in brining, curing, fermenting, and seasoning.

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Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

Cheese and homemade bread because they are the ultimate easy snack. I particularly like sourdough and to be honest, any type of cheese to go with it. Soft cheese is a favourite at the moment and I’m really enjoying Minger from Ruaraidh Stone and Highland Fine Cheeses at the moment. It’s soft and silky, a bit oozy and goes well with a glass of red after a hard shift.

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Tell us about your first food memory?

My Nan’s baked rice pudding with a touch of grated nutmeg – pure comfort food. I’ll always remember being in her kitchen with my brothers, fighting over who gets to eat the skin.

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What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?

My go to local café is the Jaggy Thistle which is just up the road from The Lovat. It’s the perfect place to escape with the dog on a sunny day. It has a friendly casual service with a great gift shop, plant stand and outdoor seating.

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What would be your last supper?

Without a doubt, it has to be a roast dinner. The star of the show would either be succulent pork belly with the crispiest crackling, or pink lamb leg studded with garlic and rosemary and a garden mint sauce. There has to be a load of duck fat roasted potatoes, creamy cauliflower cheese, buttery garden peas or brassicas, English mustard, Yorkshire puddings, and a tasty gravy.

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Starter or pudding?

Starter, always. If I can choose, it would be some kind of shellfish – crab, scallops, langoustines, mussels, oysters. Let’s go with a shellfish platter, warm bread, and garlic mayonnaise.

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Do you have any food hates and why?

Poor quality produce. I think we need to eat with the seasons to be able to enjoy food at its best, rather than trying to have all round produce and importing it from far-flung places just because we can. This is more sustainable and better for the environment. At Station Road, we work with ingredients grown in the kitchen garden as well as locally foraged produce. Menus showcase the best of what the Highlands has to offer with seasonality and sustainability at the forefront. Our offering is inspired by the surrounding landscape and heritage using the best local produce sourced from passionate suppliers which is something I’m really proud of.

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What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?

The starter would be a couple of sharing dishes like cured meats, salami, lardo, Scottish oysters and langoustines. Lots of good quality bread and our smoked tomato butter made by my young chef Sarah. My main course would be barbequed meats and fish with a variety of salads and beef-dripping chips. I particularly enjoy sharing-style food as people can take their time and enjoy conversation around a big table. To finish, something classic like baked Alaska for everyone to dig into.

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Guests: Keith Floyd, Anthony Bourdain, Winston Churchill, Mick Jagger and my old boss, JV from The Bell Inn.

What’s your favourite geographical foodie destination?

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Asia, especially Vietnam for its street food. It’s foodie heaven.

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