Talking Taste: Chef Jamie Scott

Many British foodies recognise chef Jamie Scott from his success on television in 2014. The winner of MasterChef: The Professionals will open his own place on 1 March 2016. The Newport Restaurant is at Newport-on-Tay, across the River Tay from Dundee.

Scott grew up in Arbroath, about a half-hour’s drive from Newport-on-Tay. He spent four years working at the Rocca, a chic bar and grill restaurant overlooking the Old Course at St Andrews.

In 2015, following his success on MasterChef: The Professionals, Scott moved on to cook in pop-up restaurants and took spots as a guest chef.

Cooking with local Scottish ingredients

Scott is helping to change perceptions about Scottish food, whose stereotyped image is of being unhealthy and typified by dishes such as deep fried Mars bars. His dishes feature high quality, locally sourced ingredients.

I think it’s the local produce and about supporting your local supplier. From fishing boats to the local butcher shop; I’ve got friends in all of them. That’s from the industry, cooking over the past 11 or 12 years,” he says.

“I’ve taken that same influence to Fife, the food capital of Scotland just now. The delis, the cheese and the meats – it’s an amazing place to be right now,” he adds.

“We use quite a lot of local fish. We have a lot of line caught mackerel and use crabs caught at Angus, just outside Arbroath. We have amazing lamb from just north of Arbroath as well. There’s a drinks brand, Aribike Vodka, from just outside Arbroath,” explains the chef.

“One of my favourite dishes to do right now is based on a tattie field. All my family grew up in Arbroath. One of my first jobs was digging up the tatties in winter. So I’ve got a dish called the tattie field, based on potatoes all grown just outside of Arbroath on the farms,” says Scott as we chat in 2015. It features a potato soup, bacon, Maris Piper potatoes plus black pudding ‘soil’ and crème fraiche.

Influenced by his family

Scott admits his family have had a “massive” impact upon his career.

“My mother was the first female sous chef in the United Kingdom and my first cooking was probably my Gran Lou’s baking. I used to sit in the kitchen and watch her. My mam and dad were in charge of a golf club in Hamilton, just outside of Glasgow, and they used her home baking. My Gran used to make hundreds and hundreds of cakes. I used to watch her in awe as she made amazing brandy baskets, millionaire shortbread or scones. She used to make hundreds every day,” he recalls.

“When we moved up to Arbroath my mum and dad bought their first restaurant, a pub. I was in there very young, helping out and making some money. That’s where I got ideas; everything I learnt, my mum showed me. She’s the one arranged for me to go and work in different places, using her connections. I went from Inverness to Thurso to London, all through her connections, so she was a massive part in it,” he says.

The Rocca and MasterChef

Working hard in a small team at the Rocca also helped Scott develop his skills. The restaurant held two AA rosettes when he joined and, shortly afterwards, added a third.

“After three months I helped them clinch three rosettes. It was one of 24 places in Britain to have three rosettes, so it was a really exciting time to go in,” he recalls.

Scott describes the experience of participating in MasterChef: The Professionals as “invaluable” and the critical feedback offered by the judges as “very fair”.

Their feedback was key to me winning…I improved every dish,” he adds. Every round I was getting better… and worked as hard as I normally do.”

Winning the MasterChef title has had a positive impact on Scott. “It’s given me a lot of confidence in my cooking ability and myself.”

His wife Kelly, who he met in a restaurant more than 10 years ago, will be involved at the front of house. “She’s my best friend and my rock…I’m not worried about people not being welcomed in because I know how she’ll do that and what she brings to the rest of the team,” says Scott.

The opening of the Newport Restaurant marks the beginning of a new chapter for the talented chef, who’s still in his 20s.

The Newport Restaurant

The Newport Restaurant is at 1 High Street in Newport-on-Tay (tel. 01382 541449).

Chef Jamie Scott and Kelly Scott. Photo by Laura McKinnon supplied courtesy of Posh Communication.
Chef Jamie Scott and Kelly Scott. Photo by Laura McKinnon, supplied courtesy of Posh Communication.

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