Michael Smith, chef at The Three Chimneys

Michael Smith, chef at Loch Bay

by Great British Chefs 14 May 2013

Michael Smith regards Scottish produce as the best in the world, and he has used it to carve out a reputation that extends far beyond Hadrian’s wall.

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He returned north of the border after being headhunted to run the kitchen at Glasgow’s Blue Bar and Restaurant before moving on to Arta, where he demonstrated his versatility by serving traditional Spanish cuisine.

In 2004, he was given the opportunity to settle off of the mainland and work at the beautifully located Three Chimneys restaurant on the Isle of Skye. It was a perfect fit for Inverness-born Michael.

As head chef there, he had a lot more on his plate than cooking: the remoteness of the location meant that there was a huge amount of delivery, recruitment and weather issues to contend with, which Michael proved himself to be adept at dealing with.

Seasonal cuisine was of central importance to the restaurant and chimed with the changeable Skye landscape. Sometimes craggy and deciduous, at other point’s verdant and bucolic, the isle’s breathtaking scenery guided the menu choices.

The old crofters’ cottage was bought and restored by husband and wife team, Shirley and Eddie Spear in 1984 after both had worked and lived in London. The idea was to set up a small bistro which would serve traditional Scottish cuisine in a comforting environment. Shirley, a self-taught cook, fulfilled this brief and much more; winning Scottish Restaurant of the Year in 1990 and being recognised for a ‘Special Award’ by the Scottish Chefs Association in ‘99.

Kitchen duties were entrusted to Smith in 2004, and he built tremendously on Shirley’s fine work. Glowing reviews from The Telegraph, The Guardian and even the New York Times aided its reputation as a destination restaurant, while Smith’s winning appearance on BBC’s Great British Menu provided mainland recognition.

Michael left The Three Chimneys in 2015 after eleven years in the kitchen. He now cooks at Loch Bay, still on the Isle of Skye, serving unpretentious seafood dishes full of the flavours of the island.