Updated: Jun 3
Having recently embarked on his newest venture as Development Chef at The Duke's Umbrella, top Glasgow chef John Molloy is one of the country’s most successful and burgeoning talents. I sat down with the brains behind the new gastropub's exciting and innovative menu to get a taste of his favourite Scottish produce, the influences behind his cooking, his favourite kitchen gadgets, and words of wisdom for home cooks.
What is your most memorable meal?
The Fat Duck in Bray by Heston Blumenthal was my first 3 Michelin star meal and at the time they were first or second best in the world. Every dish brought a smile or chuckle at how good it was and showed me what was possible when I was starting out as a chef.
What is your favourite kitchen tool/gadget?
Thermomix. It does everything. Blends, heats, weighs, cooks, the list goes on, I often joke I’d be happy in a kitchen myself with 10 thermomixes.
What ingredient could you not live without?
Milk, you can make butter, cream, crème fraiche, cheese from it, etc, etc.
If you could cook a meal for anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you make?
Pavarotti, he supposedly had a larger-than-life appetite for almost everything so it would be interesting to experience his reaction and of course it would be good to get a tune from him.
What inspired each of the dishes on your menu for The Duke’s Umbrella?
The whole menu reads sort of like a list of things I like cooking. It was also convenient that it happened to be relaxed casual pub food as well. Being able to give great food cooked to a high standard that is still recognisable to a lot of people was the inspiration for the menu.
Do you have a favourite dish from this menu? Which one would you recommend?
It’s sort of too hard to pick a single dish. When people I know are asking what they should have I usually say the following, Garlic Butter Crab, Langoustines, Bone Marrow, oh also the soup is banging. For mains, Fish and Chips, Ox Cheek, Schnitzel, and the Cod with Curry Leaf Veloute is also amazing. Desserts are all winners, as is the brunch menu, I’d suggest the Pig’s Head Croquette or the Arbroath Smokie Omelette.
What is your favourite Scottish produce?
Scottish seafood is right up there with the best in the world. We use langoustines, crab, cod, haddock, Arbroath Smokies, our own home smoked salmon to name a few. The cold, nutrient rich waters surrounding Scotland are perfect for stunning seafood.
What Scottish produce is most underrated?
Most of it is underrated in Scotland to be honest. For too long a lot of it has been exported to the continent where they pay a premium as they recognise the quality. I think there is an over-reliance on supermarkets nowadays and people have lost their connection to the provenance and the quality of ingredients on their doorstep.
Are there any foods you just don’t like?
I’m not a fan of raw liquorice but can use it in things. I’m not really against a lot of food, lots of the classic foods that people don’t like, I do. There’s a bar in Seville that serves tripe that is probably in the top 5 things I’ve ever eaten. I’ve tried deep fried tarantulas in Cambodia, and many many other things people would consider to be weird. I think we are privileged in Scotland to be able to be picky about food, but most foods have their merits and are recognisable to someone somewhere as sustenance.
What is the most challenging ingredient to work with?
There a few I’ve dealt with over the years, eel is a nightmare to pin bone, pulling the talons out of chicken feet is another challenging one, getting tripe cooked perfectly is another challenge.
If you could give one piece of advice to a home chef what would it be?
Prepare – in a professional kitchen we don’t just show up and start cooking things to order, there’s days and days of prep that goes into a service. So, in the house, read your recipes or go over in your head what you want to cook, prepare all the ingredients before you cook, and you’ll have a far more relaxed and enjoyable experience. It’s also important to know there aren’t really any massive mistakes you can make in the house other that burning things, the preparation will help you avoid that.
What meal would you choose as your last supper?
Bread, butter, and sparkling water. I love massively complicated cooking, but also love the really simple things in life too.
The Duke's Umbrella is situated on Argyle Street in the heart of Glasgow. Having only opened their doors a week ago, they are already being met with rave reviews on social media. Booking is advised. For reservations or to view full menus please visit. www.dukesumbrella.com.