Seafood Seasonal update - May 2018

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th May 2018


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After more than 30 years in the industry, it seems to Kevin MacGillivray that some things never change. One of these is the demand for good quality Scottish seafood and shellfish on menus – even if it is often more expensive to source.

“People – chefs as well as diners - are still willing to pay for quality, not only because they know it’s the best in the world and unique to Scotland, but also because they realise the risk and skill that go into diving for scallops or catching lobster and langoustines often in very poor weather conditions,” he says.

When he started out as an apprentice at the Station Hotel in Inverness fish and shellfish were always on the menu, as it is in most places now – though with demand increasing, he reckons it’s easier to source now.

After a varied career that includes 13 years as executive chef at Ballathie House Hotel in Perthshire – where he mentored many of the country’s top chefs when they were just starting out – Kevin is now catering and hospitality manager at the National Trust for Scotland, looking after the front- and back-of-house at Culzean Castle, Brodick Castle on Arran, and the Burns Birthplace Museum properties.

On top of that, he is team director of the Scottish Culinary Team and is preparing 12 young Scots chefs for the Culinary World Cup finals. The starters have to include two Scottish seafood and two scallop dishes.

“We’re working on the dishes right now,” he says. “With the arrival of Instagram, presentation has become unbelievably important.”

SSC Vuia Beag low res
Scotland’s natural environment provides ideal conditions for Scottish salmon to thrive

Knowing the Story behind the Seafood

shellfish boats (6) low res
The Importance of knowing the Story behind the Seafood

He reckons it should be mandatory for all young chefs to go on a fishing trip with their shellfish and seafood supplier to witness the process that goes into getting it to them.

“Some do query how expensive it is, and that would help explain why, while encouraging them to put fresh seafood on the menu, prepared as simply as possible to showcase its natural flavour and appearance.”

Meet the Next Generation

He is one of the youngest in the industry at age 26, but Zane Pretorius is “cautiously confident” that he’s making his mark as senior marine manager at The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC)’s four salmon farms on Mull.

“I don’t know anybody else who does the same job as me who is under 30,” he says. “I’m responsible for looking after the salmon’s health and welfare, so it’s quite a responsible job.”

SSC produces Label Rouge Scottish salmon which is accredited according to the rules of the coveted French marque. The Company has also introduced its unique Native Hebridean Salmon which guarantees Hebridean origin, bred from stock sourced from the freshwater loch systems of North Uist and reared exclusively in the Hebrides. Another high-end new export brand is Lochlander, specially developed for top US chefs.

Salmon is Scotland's – and the UK’s - single biggest food export and was worth a record £600m last year. “The global demand for Scottish salmon is massive, which makes my job really interesting,” says Zane. “Mull’s strong tides and excellent sea water quality make for a nice temperate profile for growing salmon.”

Zane, who is South African, moved to Dumfries with his parents ten years ago. He left school aged 17, and studied fish farming at the SRC Barony Campus. He went on to study Aquaculture and Fisheries Management at the University of Portsmouth and was Seawater Manager at Kames Fish Farming before joining The Scottish Salmon Company in 2016. A keen amateur angler, he says Mull is “quite remote” but a joy for a keen outdoor enthusiast like him.

He is aware of claims that salmon farming can harm the marine eco-system and that parasitic sea lice may be negatively affecting wild fish populations.

Fillet on Samphire (7) low res
Scottish salmon –the first fish and first non-French product to be awarded the Label Rouge quality mark

“Scottish farmed salmon has an excellent global reputation because it’s the most regulated in the world” he responds. “Part of my job is to facilitate regular seabed inspections by SEPA and fish health inspectors from Marine Scotland.

“Last month we became the first salmon producer in Scotland to be awarded the Best Aquaculture Practice certification by the Global Aquaculture Alliance for all our marine sites.”

So he is making a difference? “I like doing a great job and am proud of what I have achieved with my team.”

Article written by Cate Devine, Scottish based food writer @CateDvineWriter (

Species in Season

Salmon (Farmed) Seafood Species Descriptor Graphic low res

Sea Urchin Seafood Species Descriptor Graphic4 low res

Megrim Seafood Species Descriptor Graphic low res

Brown Crab Seafood Species Descriptor Graphic low res

>>> Take a look at what else is available from Scotland here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th May 2018

Seafood Seasonal update - May 2018