Under the Grill: Thomas MacPherson

Hickory restaurant has been dubbed one of the best eateries in Nairn, showcasing the very best of Scotland's local produce in stylish and stunning surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow diners to enjoy some of finest food in Nairn with panoramic shoreline views. The hotel's coastal location is home to some of Scotland's - and indeed the world's - best seafood, particularly scallops, lobster, langoustines, and sea bass, which each find a home on Hickory's menu. Thomas MacPherson, chef at Hickory at the Crerar Golf View Hotel in Nairn joins us this week for Under the Grill to talk about his most memorable meals, favourite Scottish produce, and the best dishes to try at Hickory.

What is your most memorable meal?

My most memorable meal was my first date with my now wife at Abstract, a lovely French-inspired restaurant in Inverness. To start, I had the steak tartar with monkfish tail to follow and the assiette of chocolate to finish. We also enjoyed some great canapés and intermediate dishes when we were there too.

What is your favourite kitchen tool/gadget?

My favourite kitchen tool without a doubt is my pasta machine. I couldn’t live without it and I actually find it very therapeutic.

What ingredient could you not live without and why?

I would have to say that is would be salt because even just a little can really help enhance the natural flavour of the product.

If you could cook a meal for anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you make?

This is a great question, I would have to say Jon Favreau. I’m a great fan of his, but he also really appreciates all types of food and the understanding of how it’s made, which is really important to me.

What inspired the dishes on your menu for Hickory?

I’m continuously inspired by the people around me. Whether it’s chefs that I have previously worked with or the chefs within my team. They inspire the dishes that I create.

Do you have a favourite dish from the menu? Which one would you recommend?

This is a difficult one to answer! I think my favourite dish would be the sea bass, we’re so lucky thanks to our location that fresh Scottish produce is right on our doorstep. However, I would also recommend the beef cheek.

What is your favourite Scottish produce?

Definitely venison because it is so versatile and can be used for so many dishes. It also accommodates a lot of different flavours. Golf View Hotel & Spa sources venison from the Crerar Home Farm.

What Scottish produce/dish is most underrated?

I would say traditional griddle potato scones are underrated because, when done correctly, they can become a great accompaniment to smoked salmon or smoked meats. They are a real treat.

Are there any foods you just don’t like?

As a chef I am definitely not fussy, however I tend not to eat or use saffron in any of my dishes.

What is the most challenging ingredient to work with?

I hate to say it but for me there is no challenging ingredient. Everything just takes time and plenty of practice and it can be mastered.

If you could give one piece of advice to a home chef, what would it be?

For those cooking at home I would recommend to just keep experimenting. Nothing is perfect the first time round so if it doesn’t work out initially just keep trying until it does.

What meal would you choose as your last supper?

My final meal would have to be chicken shawarma, when cooked correctly this is heaven on a plate.

Hickory Restaurant at Golf View Hotel in Nairn is open 8am-9pm for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For more information please visit: www.crerarhotels.com/golf-view-hotel-spa/hickory

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