Flavour Profile Q&A: Will Halsall, executive chef and general manager of The Craigellachie Hotel in Aberlour
Will Halsall submits to our foodie interrogation
What’s your favourite ingredient?
At the edge of my hometown of Wingate in County Durham, there was a forest and at times the whole village used to smell of wild garlic. It wasn’t until I moved to London that I properly tasted wild garlic and it quickly became a staple in my cooking. I love throwing wild garlic in butter with scallops - it just brings the flavour to a new level.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
My love of cake is one of the main reasons I fell in love with food and cooking. I used to bake on the weekends with my mum and always used to offer a helping hand to my grandma when she was in the kitchen when I was a young boy. I love all cakes but if I was forced to pick a favourite I’d have to go for a classic cherry bakewell.
Tell us about your first food memory
Mashed potatoes at infant school. Simply amazing - so simple and tasty. It was so delicious that I had three servings and I can still remember how good it was. Even now, mashed potatoes is one of my favourite dishes. It needs a good knob of butter, a splash of cream and a touch of sea salt.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?
I was recently taken to The Humble Burger in Elgin, a relatively new food truck with some of the best street food in town. I had the breakfast wrap which was beyond amazing - seeing the love, work and passion these guys have put into their food and their business is inspiring.
What would be your last supper?
A good Thai green curry. I love the freshness, depth of flavour and versatility. I make my own curry paste but you can’t go wrong with a decent shop bought version. You need to add loads of fish sauce, lime juice and a generous helping of coriander to finish the dish.
Starter or pudding?
Pudding and always a crumble. Apple or rhubarb with cream, custard and ice cream - the ultimate comfort food. Crumble is like roast dinner in the sense that everyone seems to have their twist to make it their own but I like it simple. Flour, butter, sugar and sometimes I might throw in some porridge oats and a touch of cinnamon.
Do you have any food hates?
I’m not a fan of snails, I have tried to cook them many times before but they are just not for me.
What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?
I’d skip the starter and go straight to the main, which would be a massive bowl of steak tartare and mussels with loads of crusty bread, shared with my closest friends, over lots of wine and beer. For pudding I’d choose a crumble and even delve into some cheese after that.
What’s your favourite geographical foodie destination?
Northern Italy. I visited in October 2019 and we ate at Ristorante 21.9, a Michelin-starred restaurant housed on a wine estate outside of Alba. The location was like something from a fairy tale and the food was unreal with truffles on everything.