10 Minutes with: Calum Montgomery

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th March 2017

The Staff Canteen spoke to Skye-local, Calum Montgomery, from Kinloch Lodge, holder of one star in the Michelin Guide UK, who works alongside Marcello Tully as head chef.

Although Skye is now firmly on the map after people have travelled from afar just to get a taste of Skye’s food scene, when Calum first started in the industry 13 years ago he ended up moving to Glasgow in order to further his experience and career. There he trained under Gary Maclean, the recently crowned MasterChef: The Professionals champion, at the City of Glasgow college. To this day he still views Gary as one of his greatest inspirations.

Black Isle lamb loin
Black Isle lamb loin

Nowadays he has returned to his roots in Skye, a place he says has provided him with some of the most memorable parts of his career so far.

Speaking of his time at Kilnoch Lodge in 2013, he remembers the experience fondly.

“Being part of a team that retained a Michelin star three years in a row was incredible. That first year, as sous chef, I’ll never forget. I lay awake all night waiting for the results to appear online.”

Since then, Calum spent a year at Ullinish Country Lodge where he earned 3 rosettes from the AA Restaurant Guide in his first year. Reflecting on this achievement, he said: “It seemed more special because we were such a small team.”

It was at Ullinish Country Lodge where Calum was given the freedom to develop his own dishes, “I take my biggest inspiration from the really high quality produce available to us on Skye. Great produce should be handled with great care and respect. We have an abundance of incredible ingredients in Skye from scallops, to langoustines, lobster and crab.”

When asked about his signature dish, Calum replies that he struggles to pinpoint just one since he has so many favourites. However, one in particular is quail breast stuffed with Perthshire honey mousse, Orbost herb puree and caramelised passion fruit jus. A dish he describes as ‘a real Kinloch classic!’

Moving on from Ullinish, Calum is excited about collaborating with Marcello Tully, the executive chef director at Kinloch Lodge, to create new signature dishes.

Michelin-starred, Kinloch Lodge
Michelin-starred, Kinloch Lodge

Kinloch Lodge is set to expand their dining capacity early next year and increase the number of their kitchen staff. Although Calum is keen to push himself and the team to raise standards even higher, he reassures us that he does not have any drastic plans for the present. 

"The key for us right now is consistency and stability. We want the guests to have a true taste of Scottish hospitality from the moment they arrive at Kinloch until they depart. My job is to ensure the guests are blown away by the food.”

With such an impressive few years under his belt, does this Skye-born chef have any intentions of opening up his own restaurant in the future?

“I would love to have my own restaurant on Skye one day, but for now I couldn’t be happier where I am. Kinloch Lodge is a fantastic place to work and it’s truly a pleasure to turn up to work every day. I have always wanted to be working somewhere I am happy. And Kinloch certainly fits the bill.”

He added: “It goes without saying, I owe so much to executive chef director at Kinloch Lodge, Marcello Tully, who continues to motivate me to constantly strive for perfection and consistency in his kitchen.”

When asked if he had any advice for any chefs just starting out, Calum simply stressed the importance of never giving up.

“There have been many times in my career when I have really questioned this as a job. The long hours, the hard times and the bad moments in service that leave you lying awake at night. However, the good always outweighs the bad. It’s a great feeling leaving to go home after a really good day in the kitchen.”

By Rachel Hocking

>>> Read more in our 10 Minutes With series here

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th March 2017

10 Minutes with: Calum Montgomery