He won his first Michelin star as head chef at Scotland’s Inverlochy Castle, where he worked from 1993 until 2001.
Among his many strengths, Haigh has shown a keen eye for talent – fellow Great British Chef Alan Murchison worked under him as a 19-year-old just getting his start in haute cuisine.
After attending to Seaham Hall’s kitchen for a year and gaining 3 AA rosettes, Haigh decamped to Mallory Court, a Leamington Spa hotel restaurant in December 2001, garnering a Michelin star that year. It’s a mark of his employers’ high esteem that he’s recently taken over Executive Head Chef duties for Mallory Court’s entire family of hotels, the Eden Hotel Collection.
Some chefs revel in the attention they win with their plaudits, and match the praise they receive with increasingly garish food, but Simon Haigh’s aesthetic is more understated. His advice for amateur chefs: ‘Don’t overcomplicate things, think about flavour combinations that complement each other, and always try to use things which are in season – they taste better. As Richard McComb of the Birmingham Post relates, access to freshly seasonal ingredients is so important to Haigh that he installed an extensive kitchen garden on his restaurant’s premises, giving his chefs immediate access to key ingredients like fennel pollen, damsons, chive flowers and freshly picked figs.
This isn’t a chef who merely pays lip-service to seasonality – diners relish the brightly incandescent flavours of just-gathered ingredients in every French-accented dish on the table.