10 Minutes With: Scott Smith, Chef Owner, Fhior

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th September 2018

Scott Smith, former chef patron at Norn has recently opened up his new restaurant Fhior in Edinburgh

With over 14 years in the industry working for the likes of Michelin-starred chef Geoffrey Smeddle and Eddie McDonald, chef-owner Scott Smith has recently opened up Fhior in the heart of Edinburgh.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Scott about Fhior, the importance of leaving his identity on a plate and why he wants to put Scottish food on the map.

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Scott Smith

Scott Smith could never envisage undertaking a job without any kind of creativity. Despite some early leanings towards being an architect (until he found out that this would involve seven years of study and this was swiftly discounted), it was clear that cooking would be his calling.

“I wanted to get out of school and to start working - I always enjoyed cooking”.

His earliest culinary influences (like most chefs) came from his mum. He recalls being given his own little patch in the garden where he would cultivate vegetables and he was subsequently shown how to cook them.

Whilst his mum was his earliest influence, Scott reveals that there were two chefs who have had the biggest impact on his culinary career. The first was Eddie McDonald who saw the potential in the young chef.

Scott said: “He told me ‘you are much better than this place and I want you to leave here and get a job in a Michelin star place and really push your career, as you have the ability to do this’. He was the first one that showed confidence in my abilities and really made me push myself out of my comfort zone. He is definitely a huge influence.”

Geoffrey Smeddle who he worked with at The Peat Inn had a  far wider-reaching effect than just cooking and Scott explained: “I learnt a huge amount from him, not just about cooking but also how to conduct yourself in the kitchen.”

After leaving Norn, Scott and his wife Laura opened Fhior (which means true in Gaelic) in June 2018. They wanted the name to reflect both the food and the restaurant as well as having a nod to its Scottish heritage as well.

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Scott's menu is full of local produce

Scott classifies the food style as ‘Modern Scottish’ but also wants to ensure that the food he serves (which is all locally sourced) has a clear identity. 

He said: “It’s important to me that the food has a clear expression – what we say is on the plate. I want people to know what the weather has been like outside and what season it is simply by what is on the plate.”

Scott’s menu is everchanging and despite Fhior only being open 13 weeks, Scott has made over 30 changes to the menu. How does he manage this? 

“We have a guest in tonight who is on their sixth visit and they have only had two duplicate courses in the time they have been here," he said. 

"Every day we are putting on new dishes. We must be reactive to what’s happening and at this time of year, things are moving very fast. The inspiration can come from anything, but I would say eight times out of ten it is reactive to what is available at the time.”

Whilst the atmosphere at Fhior could definitely be considered laid back and casual, the approach to his food and the wine is anything but as he says 'we take the food and the drink really seriously'.

"It’s about delivering excellence and a high-end experience in that aspect, but the casual element is to remember not to take ourselves too seriously – it’s just dinner at the end of the day. It is important for us that our guests feel at home”

He added: “We really wanted to put an emphasis on the word hospitality as that is what we are here to do – to be hospitable to people and to look after them, but that doesn’t mean running over and topping up their water every two minutes. We wanted to strip all of that back.”

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White Chocolate Mousse

Just over three months into Fhior’s opening, what has been the biggest lesson learned so far?

Scott laughs: “Probably how little sleep I can live on! I think to stay humble and remember that it’s not just me and Laura. It’s remembering your staff - without them it’s just an idea and a building.”

What’s next for Fhior? Is he looking for awards and accolades?

He said: “I want to say no but that would be a lie. We want it to be successful, but it must be enjoyable too. However, I would be lying to say we didn’t want to win anything. We want to do what we do and do it very well - if we do that then hopefully the awards might follow.”

And Scott has an even greater ambition....

“I want to see Scottish food on the international culinary map – that’s a goal that we have always had. We want Scottish food to be recognised internationally, not what it’s currently seen as stereotypically.”

By Emma Harrison

@canteenemma

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th September 2018

10 Minutes With: Scott Smith, Chef Owner, Fhior