Geoffrey Smeddle

Geoffrey Smeddle

Geoffrey Smeddle

Counting both Herbert Berger and Chris Galvin among his mentors, Geoffrey Smeddle fittingly marries classic French techniques with contemporary influences on his menus at The Peat Inn, Fife. Equal parts rustic and refined, his cooking makes full use of the east coast's finest seasonal produce such as seafood, game and fruit.

Geoffrey Smeddle developed a passion for food during his time as a student at Southampton University. After attaining a degree in history he spent the summer in Sauternes, France, working in the kitchen of a hotel run by his aunt and uncle. This first taste of life as a commis chef renewed his culinary ambitions, and upon returning to the UK he began training at Westminster College.

During his time at catering college he worked at the Oriel Brasserie in Sloane Square, before moving to the Lanesborough Hotel and, later, The Café Royal where he worked under Herbert Berger. Berger proved a formative mentor in classical French cooking, while the luxurious Regent Street surroundings confirmed in Geoffrey Smeddle’s mind that fine dining was the style of cooking he wanted to pursue.

After two years at The Café Royal Geoffrey Smeddle moved to Orrery in Marylebone, where he honed his classical French training and exquisite plating skills. Here he was working under Chris Galvin, a master of modern French cooking who further influenced the young chef with his contemporary approach; combining the refined with the rustic to create bold, clever dishes.

Geoffrey Smeddle spent some years working for the Four Seasons group in luxury venues across Europe, London and Chicago, where he was one of the youngest executive sous chefs. After being asked by Conran Restaurants – the group behind Orrery – to open their newest venture, Geoffrey Smeddle swapped Lake Michigan for the river Clyde and moved to Glasgow in 2003. The restaurant, Etain, was the Conran group’s first outside of London, and under Geoffrey Smeddle was recognised as the AA’s Restaurant of the Year in 2005.

Geoffrey Smeddle is renowned as a food writer and columnist, highlighting seasonal produce. He has been a contributor for the Scottish Herald since 2004, sharing experiences and recipes relating to particular ingredients.

In 2006 Geoffrey Smeddle and his wife, Katherine, bought the Michelin-starred The Peat Inn in Fife from its legendary owner David Wilson. Built in the mid-eighteenth century, The Peat Inn gave its name to the village that sprung up around it – Peat Inn – and has provided hospitality for weary travellers for over 200 years. Now a luxury restaurant with rooms, the weary travellers of old have been replaced by discerning local regulars and foodie tourists from all corners of the globe.

Menus change with the seasons, making full use of the wonderful produce available in the surrounding area – seafood from Anstruther, local game, Scotch beef and even vegetables grown in their own garden. He cites his network of trusted suppliers, many of whom date back to his Etain days, as a hugely valuable resource, relying on their advice and expertise to help influence the changes in his menus. Nature, too, plays a part in the creation of dishes, with ingredients paired according to seasonal flavour – think Summer berries with elderflower jelly in early summer, or Partridge with Swiss chard and chestnuts come autumn. Dishes such as Autumn Eton mess – made with blackberries, figs and poached pears – exemplify Geoffrey Smeddle’s deft, playful navigation through the seasons.

The chef is often praised for his unpretentious approach to cooking, and his food marries classical techniques with modern cuisine. Scallops with warm cucumber and caviar or the much loved Blood orange soufflé, served with chocolate and Grand Marnier sauce, receive much praise from critics for their unfussy perfection – here quality ingredients and careful technique take precedence over superficial over-embellishment. While locality is important, Geoffrey Smeddle is not opposed to incorporating further flung ingredients into his dishes either, such as Roast hake with chickpeas, chorizo and coriander or a punchy Lychee and ginger parfait.

The Peat Inn is often commended for its atmosphere – elegant, but unpretentious – where regulars and tourists can expect an equally warm welcome. Richard Bath of The Standard once recounted visiting the restaurant again five years after his first dining experience and being asked by Macrae if he wanted to order ‘the same wine as last time’. This is no isolated incident; at The Peat Inn Geoffrey Smeddle and his team more than do justice to the venue’s long, long history of Scottish hospitality.