Chef Stevie McLaughlin was the long-standing head chef at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie before the sad passing of his mentor and friend Andrew Fairlie. There was no finer or better prepared chef to take over the running and direction of the restaurant. Stevie McClaughlin embodies everything RAF stands for. We asked him why game is so important to him and the restaurant.
“Game plays its part in the essence and the heritage of my country,” he began. “The Scottish moors, hills and forests provide an abundance of life along with life-sustaining beauty. When I cook game I always get a sense of where it comes from. In other words what its natural habitat is and what its typical diet is, too. I get a real sense of what each and every animal’s natural place is in the ecoculture. Whether this is when I am plucking and drawing a grouse and I can smell the bitter wild berries and the purple heather or I’m boning out a shoulder of wild roe deer and I can actually smell and appreciate the aroma from pine trees, flowering plants and brambles.
“Game also changes through the season. A great example of this is grouse. It’s not the same at the beginning, in August, as it is at the end of the season in January. Young grouse needs something tender like a leafy vegetable and maybe a puree of caramelised mango flesh and a warm game vinaigrette spiked with a few drops of homemade wild berry vinegar. However, towards the end of the season when grouse becomes a more pungent offering you would expect to see it on our menu with roasted cepes, celeriac puree perfumed with clove or nutmeg and a much more robust game jus possibly flavoured with a peaty malt whiskey.