Name: Christopher Dougan

Age: 37

Current position: Head Chef at Scafell Hotel in Keswick

Tell us about your current role

Recently I took over the kitchens at the 1 AA Rosette Scafell Hotel in Borrowdale in The Lakes. 

How long have you been cooking professionally?

20 years.

Where did you train to cook?

Motherwell College but mostly on the job.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

Classic peasant food “cuisine de La Grande Mere”. 

Do you have a “signature dish”, or a favourite dish you enjoy cooking? 

I wouldn’t use the term signature dish but more a signature style with bold flavours such as Cassoulet etc.

Do you have a favourite ingredient?

Meat of any description.  

Do you have a favourite local supplier?

All the suppliers we use are excellent and essential to our business. However, in the Lake District, Tony Harrison of Cockermouth is my go-to butcher.

Is there another chef you admire?

Several who I have worked with but Paul Kitching is one of the nicest guys you could meet in this industry.

Who is the best chef you’ve worked with and why?

I have worked for several chefs up to two Michelin star level however Jean-Michelle Gaufrette at La Garrigue in Edinburgh is an inspiration. He is true to his roots, doesn’t do anything fancy or out of the ordinary yet produces some of the best bistro food in the UK.

What is the one piece of kitchen equipment you could not live without? 

Boning knife.

What is the best restaurant you have eaten at?

Loch Bay on the Isle of Skye. 

Should customers be made to pay for late cancellations?

Yes, simple as that.

What frustrates you most about customers?

The fact most people want best quality but few are willing to pay for it. Or, even more so, when they compare an independent fresh establishment to a branded operation.

What is your most awkward/demanding customer experience?

A woman wasn’t willing to pay the price difference between a cheese board in the restaurant area to the bar area of our establishment. I was tired and over  worked at the time and I ended up having a confrontation with her. In the end I told here to go away (but a bit more direct language than that) and we lost another table of 6 because of it. Needless to say I  didn’t last much longer in that job.

Do you look at TripAdvisor reviews?

Yes of course. Good and bad reviews are both essential to the business; a good review is always good for team morale but bad ones also are an informative way for us to look at areas to be improved. 

What career advice would you give to your 15-year old self?

Be more decisive in your career choice. 

What would be your “last request” dish?

Beef Bourguignon cooked by myself.

What is your favourite cookbook?

St John. 

How do you use social media to help you in your job?

Social media is both a hindrance and a help but it is good for getting inspirational ideas from those chefs of a certain level.

 What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?

Maintaining staff is definitely an industry wide problem these days.

What’s the worst kitchen injury you’ve had?

Probably burning first of both my arms during a fryer fire.

And finally, what is your career ambition?

Right now to take my current establishment to the 3 Rosette level. Followed by my own theatre style restaurant concept.

You can connect with Christopher on Instagram @douganchristopher

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