Skye: the Chef’s Paradise

Marcello

Marcello Tully
Sleat | Isle of Skye

Kinloch Kitchen Team

Marcello shares his favourites for a Spring menu, his love of Skye’s mercurial weather and his secrets for enticing family and friends to keep making the journey to come and sit at his table. He describes how his family life and work life have grown together, as his children gravitate towards the professional kitchen, keeping him on his toes all the while!

It’s just over a decade since I uprooted the family from the south-east of England to the spectacularly beautiful, yet more remote than we were used to, Isle of Skye. During our time here we have had a steady stream of friends and family escape the hurly burly of city life to enjoy the fresh air, stunning scenery and spectacular weather here on Skye.

Marcello Family

Our most recent visitor was my wife Claire’s father, who witnessed the usual transition in climate, one moment torrential rain and the next, the most amazing rainbows before his eyes followed by the sun making the sea and lochs truly gleam. Then in a heartbeat it was back to hearing the wind howl. Not so bad, as we were sat in front of a wonderful log fire enjoying a wee dram.

Of course, another big reason for the repeat custom of our family’s guests is the food! I often refer to Skye as a ‘Chef’s Paradise’ with the surrounding sea abundant with the very best fish and shellfish and the hills and crofts throughout the Highlands producing some of the best meat and game in the world.

Skye Seafood

As a family we love the opportunity to showcase these delights, whether in Kinloch’s fine dining restaurant or with friends at our own kitchen table, we consider it an absolute blessing. In fact, our returning visitors often demand Peter’s Loch Eishort rope-grown mussels to be bought by the net, cleaned, cooked and feasted on during their stay.

The longer we’ve been on Skye, the more our family and work lives have become entwined. My wife Claire also works at Kinloch and to avoid confusion with Lady Claire, she is affectionately known as ‘Mrs T’ and she looks after the food orders and paperwork so that I can concentrate on what I so dearly love – cooking!

Kinloch Lodge Hotel

And as our boys have grown older, both have come to work at the hotel so it’s a real family affair. In parallel, it’s been a delight to see our Tully ‘Clan’ become part of the wider Kinloch family.

And boy, do the younger ‘Tully Clan’ fancy themselves as food critics! Every once in a while they come up with a request for the kitchen. Alex, our younger son, gave me a birthday cake challenge just the other day for a popcorn birthday cake with ground popcorn, caramel and banana, topped with dark chocolate and a dome of profiteroles on top!

If I wasn’t able to meet the culinary demands of our kids, May’s produce certainly didn’t disappoint and it was a delight to develop new dishes for our Spring menus and cook with sea trout, crab, langoustine, lobster, cockles, prawns, salmon and shrimp, spring lamb, wood pigeon, asparagus, chives, sorrel, wild garlic, asparagus, and of course Mrs T’s favourite fruit of all time, RHUBARB!

New dishes include succulent very slow-roasted Black Isle lamb shoulder, cooked for eight hours, delicately mixed with fresh rosemary, mint and tarragon and a hint of mustard. Once mixed, this is then rolled and gently fried and served with loin of lamb, coated with herb puree, black olive and cashew crumbs.

Lamb

The dessert that springs to mind (pardon the pun and a nudge in the ribs from Mrs T), is Rhubarb, poached with dark muscovado sugar and zest of orange, coated with white chocolate and cocoa butter, served with rhubarb sorbet and toasted hazelnuts… My number one principal for cooking is marrying flavours together and making every ingredient on the plate earn its place.

I’d like to sign off this first blog with a huge thank you to Bridget Hagmann, who, by the end of this season, will be winding down Glendale Salads. Bridget has supplied organic mixed leaf salads, vegetables, fruits and herbs for over 30 years and her dedication to supplying world class produce will be very sorely missed. All of us at Kinloch send her our very best wishes for the future.