As our new head chef at the 1887 restaurant, we wanted to get to know a little about Paul Green, who joined the team in February 2020. From his love for bread and butter, to his passion for the younger generation of cooks, we sat down with the produce-led chef to find out more.
What is your previous experience working as a chef?
I started my career as a commis chef at Dryburgh Abbey Hotel in Melrose, before moving swiftly up the ranks of some of the UK’s leading restaurants and hotels, including The Bath Priory, The Three Chimneys, and Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart. In 2013, I joined Simon Rogan’s two Michelin-starred L’Enclume as senior chef de partie, gaining understanding of the farm and foraged to fork concepts that inspired the menu, before becoming head chef for Adam Reid at The French, where I helped achieve 4 AA Rosettes and 13th place in the Good Food Guide’s Top 50 Restaurants in 2018.
What made you want to work at The Torridon?
The location is stunning. Every day when I walk to work the first thing that I see when I step out the door is the mountains and the loch. Knowing that I’m situated close to the source of so much world-class produce, whether it’s the game, the seafood, the shellfish, is really exciting. When I met with owners Dan and Rohaise, I saw how excited they are and the experience they want to provide guests, and how it distils and filters through the rest of the staff. It truly is like an extended family and I just had to be a part of it.
Tell us more about your ethos, including suppliers and techniques?
Respect for the produce, team, suppliers, and area is paramount. We’re all here to provide the guest with the best possible experience and sample just a little of what this great land has to offer. We treat everything from the carrot to the turbot with the same care. Technique-wise, we take the product and cook it as simply as possible, doing as little as possible to it to not alter its natural form.
This year we’re making a big push to be more environmentally friendly and green, so we’ll be working even more closely with the local hunters, fishermen and farmers and indeed our own estate from where we grow and forage so much amazing produce.
What kind of dining experience would you like to provide guests at The Torridon?
The dining experience is part of a bigger picture. From the moment of check-in to the breakfast the following morning, all the staff strive to exceed guest expectations even from a five-star property. The restaurant itself has recently been refurbished to create a more refined but relaxed atmosphere, removing white tablecloths that symbolise a more rigid experience.
Guests will know that they’re somewhere special, but I want people to be themselves. We want laughter in the dining room, we want people to be speaking. We don’t want hushed tones and whispers; we want a happy place.
What are your main inspirations for creating dishes and menus?
Every morning I step out the door and the first thing I’m confronted with is this landscape and it’s awe-inspiring. When I come into the kitchen all I want to do is take the produce we’ve received that morning, whether it be fish from the loch or game from the land, and prep it, cook it and present it very simply. Inspiration may come from a walk around the grounds with our gardener Tom discussing what’s growing or working with the cooks in the kitchen and talking about food and restaurants.
What’s your favourite ingredient and why?
To think about every ingredient, it’s quite difficult to choose a favourite, I’ve actually got a couple. The first is like most chefs, salt. The reason being it changes everything, and it adds flavour. I also enjoy Jerusalem artichokes, we’re in the season right now and it just so happens that we’re growing thousands of them in the Kitchen Garden so we get to use them a lot.
If you had to choose one dish on the menu, what would it be and why?
If I had to choose one dish on the menu that epitomises what we do here at The Torridon, it would be a raw dish of beef tartare that is presented with preserved cucumbers from last year, from the Kitchen Garden. We rear our own cattle here right on the estate and we dress that with mustard and shallots, which are quite traditional accompaniments, however, we do them in our way. We add some egg yolk for creaminess and croutons for crunch, and the dish is topped with a little caviar for extra indulgence. It’s a simple dish but very moreish and uses classically based techniques with the produce from the surrounding areas and the estate itself.
What is your desert island dish?
My desert island dish wouldn’t even be a dish – just some warm bread and salted butter please. Otherwise, a custard tart would be nice – preferably made by Marcus Wareing.
What are you especially passionate about in the hospitality industry?
I am very passionate about passing on the right skills to the next generation of chefs. When a young cook comes into the kitchen full of drive and enthusiasm, that’s exciting and must be nourished and encouraged. It is a very different industry now, even from when I came into it, and more than ever we must think about respecting one another not just as chefs or numbers but as people. As we become more and more aware of our footprint on the planet it’s great that we look more at what we as cooks can do to minimise our impact through using local, recycling and treating every product with the same level of respect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I’m trying to get fit and bag some of those Munros! Food is always on my mind so eating out is always on the cards.