Chef Abroad: a blog by Stuart Ralston

The  Staff Canteen

Stuart Ralston first left his native Scotland to do a stage at Aquavit in New York. From then on he was infected by the travelling bug and soon found himself back in the Big Apple working for Gordon Ramsay.

After several adventures documented in his previous blogs for The Staff Canteen, Stuart now finds himself working in Barbados at the luxury Sandy Lane hotel. This is the third part of his latest blog. 

As this chapter of the “Chef Abroad” blog goes live, I will be most likely getting ready to leave the sunshine and palm trees of Barbados. I have decided (as of the time of writing this) to return to Edinburgh this year to embark on the next chapter of my life. Working in Barbados has been a great and very fulfilling experience; it was a welcome change when the opportunity came up and now that it is time to leave I have a newfound insight into what I want to do next.

Part of me is sad to leave our beautiful home, a kitchen team that has worked extremely hard for me, and an island that is so picturesque. There are lots of things in my travels abroad that I have learned - none of which I take for granted. Working overseas has inspired me, expanded my culinary knowledge and has showed me a different way to work and look at things in our industry, and world.

From working in the busy city of New York, for Gordon Ramsay to my stages at Jean Georges and where it all began at Aquavit, I remember the noise of traffic, the energy of a city and working with some of the most talented people in the industry to now doing my part in managing one of the greatest resorts in the world frequented by some amazing people.

I have seen and experienced a lot and now turning 30 I have a lot of perspective to show me what path to take next. If I had never left my native Scotland, I would never have become the chef or person I am today so the experience has been invaluable and I hope it will all serve me to further success in what I do next.

What’s important to me now is putting myself into a position where I can truly execute my own vision of a great restaurant. I have always worked in great establishments but truthfully none that have ever really represented me and my own personality. I want to be able to push my creativity and cook exactly the food that I feel deeply passionate about rather than serving what is simply requested or preconceived for that environment and clientele.

People who know me personally also know that being successful in my own country is something I need to do. I hope this may be the chance to do it now. This past year I have been back to New York and we had the pleasure of eating at Brooklyn Fare with Chef Ceaser Ramirez, Momofuku KO, and Empellon Cocina and in Paris we had inspiring meals at Le Chateaubriand and Frenchie. Each of these meals were memorable and inspiring in different ways, and these are the places that have made me realize the type of cooking that is deeply personal and evocative.

To see other chefs truly put out exactly their vision for their restaurants with no restrictions is what makes me tick, because it’s what I crave. So to summarize - I started this blog some time ago now, and I’m not sure when then next one will be. Working abroad has been an amazing experience; I have seen so many great restaurants, food cultures and places that truly embrace food cultures.

I have found new techniques, countless ingredient and products that I had never seen or dealt with before. I have dealt with challenges that I never would have thought capable of doing. I look forward to trying to put all that to great use , who knows where. Wish me luck.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th September 2013

Chef Abroad: a blog by Stuart Ralston