Taste Turnberry – a foodie adventure
Awarded ‘Scottish Hotel of the Year’ in 2018, and following an extensive refurbishment, iconic Ayrshire hotel, Trump Turnberry, has now set its sights on new achievements, namely, world-class food.
Invited to enjoy a culinary retreat over the course of two days, together with a number of other food writers, we spent two days with Turnberry’s chefs and suppliers and it was quite astounding.
Our stay started with a champagne breakfast, complete with an abundance of Scottish salmon, smoked trout, scrambled eggs with fresh truffle and lobster omelettes – quite the array!
A new executive chef at the helm of Trump Turnberry
We were soon whisked away to the kitchen to meet newly appointed Executive Head Chef, Callum Dow. With experience at Gleneagles, the one Michelin star Longueville Manor and Airth Castle, Callum was delighted to be given to opportunity to bring the Turnberry culinary scene back to life. While one of the most iconic hotels in Scotland, and a world-class golf destination, food and beverage at the hotel suffered under previous owners and required some much-needed attention. Callum – with the support of General Manager Ralph Porciani and Director of Culinary, Justin Galea – is just the man for the job.
One thing that really struck us throughout our stay was the attention to detail and dedication displayed by all the employees at Turnberry. Passionate about food, Callum is leading a young and talented team, determined to lay solid culinary foundations at the hotel. Taking inspiration from the land and sea around him, Callum has shaped a menu full of exciting, Scottish producers and suppliers.
“Seasonality is key and we work hard on sourcing the best and working with suppliers to ensure that we get exactly what we want.”
The hotel prides itself on quality produce, of Scottish suppliers – and we were fortunate enough to meet a few of them. The suppliers selected and ingredients used throughout all the menus at Turnberry show true provenance and really are a reflection of Scotland’s larder. Callum and his team continually challenge suppliers to provide the best that they have to offer.
Culinary retreat at Turnberry, exploring the Scottish larder
We were lucky enough to be introduced to Sally Swinbanks, owner of Tobermory Fish Company. Now, while we have been fortunate enough to try some delicious Scottish seafood over the years, Tobermory Smoked Trout is by far one of the standouts.
The recipe, developed more than 50 years ago by Sally’s grandfather, is simply outstanding. Cold smoked in a traditional island way, the trout is lightly smoked over salt, herbs and spices along to achieve a uniquely delicate flavour and texture. As an Isle of Mull local, Sally acknowledges the challenges that her family’s business face. But, with a strong and loyal customer base and large-scale contracts like those of Turnberry, truly special suppliers like Tobermory Fish stand a real chance of growing and achieving the recognition they rightly deserve. www.tobermoryfish.co.uk
Amanda Anderson, Marketing Manager of Gigha Halibut spoke to us at length about the process of rearing Halibut of the highest quality.
Breeding Halibut is no mean feat – there is no return on investment for at least five years, and the fish don’t reach breeding maturity until the age of eight. While some years ago there were around 250 halibut producers in the world, there are now fewer than 10 – and no other that can rightfully call themselves Gigha Halibut.
While an expensive product to produce, and therefore to sell, low fish densities on the farm allow for more space to swim, resulting in firmer, meatier flesh.
With a visit planned to the Scottish island next year, we hope to meet the team and see the farm in person. www.gighahalibut.co.uk
Gordon Caldwell of Caldwell’s Vegetables was next to speak to us – surrounded by glorious colours of seasonal veg. On Dowhill Farm, only a mile away from Turnberry itself, Gordon spoke of the fertile, sandy soils on his Ayrshire farm – ideal for some of Scotland’s finest vegetables, including red, golden and candy-striped beetroot.
“We are definitely warmer here and we are frost-protected than even a mile or two inland. That helps in spring and autumn when you are trying the push the seasons. Even in November, I can still grow all the cauliflower and broccoli varieties, and it’s all outside. I grow the earliest carrots harvested in Scotland as a result.”
Finally, Campbells Prime Meat – a family business for over 100 years – displayed some skilled butchery and talked us all through the varying cuts of beef available. Supplying Turnberry with Campbells Gold beef, the meat is primarily grass fed, outdoor reared and dry aged for 21-28 days, ensuring top quality flavour.
An evening of indulgence
All of the suppliers joined us for a superb whisky tasting led by A. D. Rattray’s Whisky Experience that evening, followed by a superb 8-course menu showcasing the outstanding Scottish produce we had heard about throughout the day.
After a long day of learning, cooking and eating, we were fortunate enough to stay in one of Turnberry’s luxurious bedrooms. All recently renovated, the rooms – including The Lighthouse’s suites overlooking the golf course – are really outstanding. Flooded with light, furnished opulently and luxuriously finished, I can certainly attest to the comfort of both the bed and bath – despite my impending food coma.
The team at Turnberry really are exceptional. Led by an experienced management team and guided by owners with a vested interest in the property, we have no doubt that Turnberry will continue to hold a special place in many people’s hearts, (and stomachs).