Neil’s cooking style is simple – no overcrowding of flavours or visuals on the palette or plate - with ingredients sourced, wherever possible, from local suppliers and always in season.
Neil’s career as a chef began in 1986 at Casa dei Cesari in Surrey before a longing to return to Scotland brought him to Perthshire’s Ballathie House Hotel. His passion for Scotland’s abundant home-grown and wild produce grew as he cooked his way around Scotland in the years that were to follow.
During an exhilarating 2 years as chef de partie with Michelin-starred David Wilson at The Peat Inn in the early 90s, Neil was sent on various ‘stages’ that included time in the London kitchens of Karl Roederer at Manly’s and Philip Britton at The Capital.
He took his fish and seafood skills with him to John Webber at Kinnaird House and spent the next 2 years learning how to cook with local, seasonal produce graduating to sous chef before embarking on a year’s work and travel expedition to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the Whitsundays and the USA.
By the mid-90s Neil was back in Scotland, this time as sous chef on board luxury touring train, The Royal Scotsman. By continuously moving through different landscapes, picking up produce along the way, Neil acquired an encyclopaedic knowledge of Scotland’s diverse indigenous ingredients and formed relationships with suppliers he still works with today. Whilst at the Royal Scotsman Neil won the coveted Acorn Award.
During the winter months Neil worked at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons and for Michel Roux at the Waterside Inn in Brae.
Subsequently Nick Nairn invited Neil to join him at his restaurant Braeval in Aberfoyle, where he was head chef and successfully retained Nairn’s Michelin star after he left to open his eponymous restaurant in Glasgow. Neil later joined the team in Glasgow as head chef. However, with his marital home in Edinburgh, Neil decided to give up the commute west and took over from Andrew Radford as Atrium’s head chef in August 1999, the pair having shared a mutual enthusiasm for quality produce during their preceding friendship.
In 2004 Neil became head chef at Atrium’s sister restaurant blue and when in 2008, Cafe St Honoré became an associate restaurant, Neil became executive chef of all three. In February 2011 Atrium and blue closed their doors and Neil took on the role of Chef/Director at Cafe St Honoré.
Neil’s cooking style is simple – no overcrowding of flavours or visuals on the palette or plate – with ingredients sourced, wherever possible, from local suppliers and always in season. His Saturday morning visits to the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market form part of his restaurant’s culture for regular communication with suppliers. Neil is one of very few UK chefs to take delivery of whole carcasses, using as much of the animal as possible and sharing those skills with the younger chefs in the kitchen.
In February 2011, Neil was named Scottish Chef of the Year at the acclaimed Scottish Restaurant Awards and he was particularly praised for his use of Scottish seasonal produce of which he is an avid promoter. His Saturday morning visits to the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market form part of his kitchen’s culture for regular communication with suppliers.