Zoltan Szabo - Executive Chef, Cameron House
We recently welcomed our Executive Chef Zoltan Szabo to Cameron House Resort. We asked him about his cooking experiences and why he thinks that Cameron House is unique. He shared with us his passion about local sourcing and using the best of what Scotland’s larder has to offer. He creates authentic dining experiences for our guests with a focus on provenance and seasonality.
What makes Cameron House cuisine unique?
The versatility of the offering that is centred on locally sourced Scottish ingredients where possible. Cameron House has such a diverse and dynamic food offering ranging from; contemporary fine dining, large scale luxury events, golf and leisure catering, right through to our traditional afternoon tea. It’s this diversity that allows me to indulge my passion for Scotland’s incredible larder.
What is an example of your personal style and passion?
I like to cook the traditional way, with hot foaming nut brown butter, herbs, garlic and juniper. My style is not to over-complicate a dish, rather letting the ingredients highlight each other and speak for themselves. I am passionate about every aspect of our trade. Let it be farming and understanding why hand churned butter is superior to machine churned, as well as how the grass effect the flavour of the milk, cream or butter. Right through to working with artisan craftsmen on bespoke pottery items or serving dishes. Everything must work in harmony.
What is your background and how did it lead you to Cameron House?
I am originally from Hungary. Having spent two years in Helsinki- Finland, I arrived in Scotland in 2005. I first visited Cameron House in 2006 and I was immediately captivated by the hotel’s stunning buildings and beautiful setting. I dreamed about being the Chef here one day so it really is a dream come true for me.
Favourite part about living and working in the west of Scotland?
Primarily it has to be the people, then the beautiful surroundings.
What are some of your favourite meals to create in the kitchen?
I like old-fashioned cooking where meat and fish are cooked whole; in some cases on the bone and filleted and carved tableside. It’s such a satisfying feeling to see guests’ eyes brighten at the theatre of you adding finishing touches to their dishes in front of them. I also love creating traditional hand-crafted pies, sourdough breads and pastries.
What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient and why?
My all-time favourite ingredients are the Scottish grouse, scallops and lamb along with the seasonal wild mushrooms that the land has to offer. These ingredients when prepared with care speak for themselves.
What’s your favourite Scottish dish and why?
It needs to be the magnificent grouse. It touches summer, autumn and winter and as the bird matures the flavour profile also changes, becoming more robust, you need to adjust your cooking accordingly.
I couldn’t be the chef I am without…
All the obstacles I had to come across. Our trade is not an easy one yet I would choose the same path again if I would have to. I am ever grateful for friends, colleagues and family for their support.