AN EVENING WITH MICHEL ROUX JR
Scotland was our first destination, and still our most popular in terms of visitors numbers. It's been extremely exciting to see how the country has grown alongside the demands of golf tourism over the past fifteen years. Hotels have stayed up to speed with the fickle demands of the cosmopolitan traveller. Golf clubs now have dedicated customer service teams all around the clubhouse and course. And even though it mystifies the local player who spent a lifetime becoming adept at arriving two minutes before his tee-time, Scotland has also learned that visiting golfers appreciate a range area to hit a few balls pre-round! But perhaps one element of hospitality has remained wide of the mark over this same period. Sometimes you can be blinded by an overall success and overlook a fundamental problem. That problem was, and in some cases still is, the archaic approach to food. The days of serving conveyor belt portions of factory-produced Scottish staples (commonly on a tartan tablecloth to a soundtrack of bagpipes) are, at best, confined to the museum. The world has moved on.
In general, menus have been predictable and unimaginative. It's been groundhog day. Porridge, black pudding, Scotch pies, haggis, Balmoral chicken (that's chicken stuffed with haggis just in case you hadn't enough of it at breakfast) and the pièce de résistance - the deep fried Mars bar. A chocolate and caramel candy bar dipped in batter and submerged in hot beef dripping. Sounds delightful, doesn't it?
Our clients are becoming younger, more discerning, and are placing an even greater emphasis on the standard of accommodation and dining across their golf trip. We treat these requirements with high importance and take pride in the modern approach that we offer. Is there still room for pub grub and the occasional sampling of Scottish delicacies? Absolutely. However Scotland should be a culinary destination in its own right, with world class cooking of the diverse natural larder available both rurally and across every town and city. That shift is now happening, and we are fully onboard.
Several shining lights have paved the way including Tom Kitchin and the late, great Andrew Fairlie. But just as important have the been the farmers who diversified their estates by opening butcher shops, on-site restaurants, and in the case of Balgove in St Andrews - a hugely successful BBQ Steak Barn.
One of the world's top chefs - Michel Roux Jr, while London-born and Paris-trained, has been a flag bearer in raising the gastronomic bar throughout Scotland. He has proudly continued and built upon his family's relationships with several of the country's top hotels including Greywalls (which overlooks Muirfield) and Inverlochy Castle - where we were lucky enough to spend an evening enjoying him create a seven course menu for Connoisseur Golf clients.
An intimate room of just twenty diners were treated to a symphony of ingenious food artistry and complex culinary processes. The Roux trademark style of classically-constructed French dishes, blended with a modern approach was on full display. But these skills and techniques were only served to further promote the real stars of the show - the seasonal Scottish Highland ingredients. Or as his late father, Le Gavroche legend, Albert once coined it, "sourcing hyper-local".
The leading actors of this particular performance? Pumpkin, salmon, mushroom, venison, pear and duck egg. A master of his trade investing his time and wisdom to teach yet another crop of young, talented, local chefs how to elevate this Scottish produce to a world class standard. Further proof that sustainability and luxury tourism can not only survive together but thrive because of each other.
We're very excited about the new direction Scotland has taken with golf, gastronomy and sustainability. This will be showcased in early 2022 with the release of our new range of Responsible Tourism itineraries in conjunction with Visit Scotland. The same level of luxury you've come to love and expect from Connoisseur Golf, but one that celebrates the hotels, castles, golf courses and restaurants that are moving with the times. Those that are keeping Scotland at the pinnacle of high-end travel while contributing to the success of future generations.
Scotland is Calling...