Chef of the Week: Dan Ashmore, Executive Chef at The Dean Banks Group in Scotland

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been in my current role for coming up to one year.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I have always enjoyed cooking from a young age, spending time with my grandmother making chutney using apples from her tree in the garden.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The creativity, the teamwork and the opportunities across the world.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, salt and lemon.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A whetstone to keep my knives sharp.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Foraging and fermenting during the summer months for the winter.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Not tasting your food as you are cooking. Taste as you go and season more if needed.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring – After the long dark days of winter, seeing the first signs of greenery and life is always refreshing.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Every dish I have cooked has taught me new techniques and styles, I couldn’t pinpoint one above the other.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I look at what is available across our suppliers and think what I would like to eat, the old adage of “what grows together goes together” is always very helpful.

Who was your greatest influence?
I’ve been very lucky to have worked alongside some exceptional chefs, two of my biggest influences who made the biggest marks in my career are Phil Howard and Tom Aikens.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Thomas Keller, Mikeal Viljanin and Simon Rogan.

What is your favourite cookbook?
‘The French Laundry’ – I remember getting that book years ago, just at the start of my career and sitting at home reading it cover to cover every night.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Tomas and Sam from Heron in Leith, Hamish and the team at Eleanore on Leith Walk and Matt Smith, Head Chef at Inver.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
The three that we have opened – Haar, Dulse and the upcoming Forager.