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Michel Roux Jr launches new luxury dining concept at Inverlochy Castle in Fort William

From left: Head chef at Inverlochy Castle, Coalin Finn with Michel Roux Jr.
From left: Head chef at Inverlochy Castle, Coalin Finn with Michel Roux Jr.

Deep in the west Highlands lies the home of Michel Roux Jr’s latest dining concept.

Seasgair, which is Gaelic for warm, cosy and comfortable, is the chef and Inverlochy Castle’s new culinary experience that is based around utilising the very best of local produce.

While some products are sourced just a few miles from the venue, others come from across Scotland, although Michel confirms that diners won’t find any produce outwith the country on the menu.

Head chef of Inverlochy Caslte, Coalin Finn with Michel Roux Jr in the kitchen.

A five-course experiential tasting menu is served across any of the three dining rooms and is presented in a unique way, bringing the chefs front of house and centre stage.

The concept has been a year in the making and Michel has been working with head chef Coalin Finn, who has worked in a stellar line-up of kitchens in his time, to refine the menu.

Why Fort William?

But what was it about this area of Scotland that inspired the two Michelin star chef to commit himself to?

“It will become a food destination more so than it has ever been,” said the chef.

“It has always been known for its hospitality,  beautiful location and it history. But now I think it will be on the map for its food.”

The view of Inverlochy Castle.

The interactive concept

Guests will start their night off with a glass of Champagne or a custom-designed cocktail in the castle lobby where they will also be able to watch one of the chefs finish off a variety of canapes.

This will then be followed by five courses.

Don’t be late for dinner if you are staying at the venue as there is only one sitting per evening, which takes place at 7pm, and, it is the only dining option available after 6pm.

One of the dishes.

“You’ll be served by the chef and you can talk and discuss the food with them while having your canapes. That’s the first bit of interaction,” he said.

“There are a lot of sharing dishes to help yourself to from your table and the chef will be carving, or introducing the meal as well.”

With both the kitchen and front of house working in synch with one another, the experience nods to how guests dined at Inverlochy Castle when it was owned by Mrs Hobbs. Her vivacious cook, Mary Shaw, would create a menu showcasing the best seasonal produce each night for the family and guests.

The menu changes day-to-day, although it is on a three day rotation, which Michel says will lighten the load for the kitchen.

A meat dish served to guests.

Rather than having numerous starters, mains and desserts to worry about, the set-up is more economical and better for food waste.

He also outlines that the hours worked by staff will be less due to the capabilities of preparing in advance. This will help give the team a better work life balance.

The food will be based on classics, so Michel says expect beef or venison wellington, Scottish oysters, seafood and more will feature.

Petit fours end the meal.

There’s also an option to enjoy expertly paired wines hand selected by our world-renowned sommelier to seamlessly compliment each course.

As well as individual tables in the dining room guests can also join Mary Shaw’s Table, a  large wooden table in the library where they can meet and dine with others.

£125 per person

As the cost of living continues to soar, Michel outlines that there will always be a place for luxury hotels and restaurants like Inverlochy House and his own London establishment.

These places will be a haven for celebration and special occasions.

The main dining room.

But what does the £125 per head price tag get you?

Freshly prepared canapes, a five-course set menu, petit fours with tea and coffee and a custom welcome drink created by the castle’s sommelier.

“It is a lot of money, but we all have special occasions we want to celebrate. I believe places like here and my own restaurant in London will always exist,” he added.

Future of hospitality

A man who is heavily involved in developing talent within hospitality, Michel Roux Jr and his late father, Michel Roux, have been roll models to many in the industry.

Although it is currently going through a turbulent time off the back of the coronavirus with chef and skill shortages, he is adamant to continue to inspire the next generation of Scottish chefs.

“We have to try and find a way to entice the next generation into hospitality,” he said.

“We have to address things such as hours. They are always going to be unsocial but maybe there will be less restaurants open on Sundays and maybe even Saturdays.

Coalin Finn finishing a course.

“Nurses probably do more hours than us and hairdressers are on their feet for hours on end. I don’t think it is just hospitality that will reevaluate. We have to find a good work life balance.

“My dad loved Scotland and so do I. The larder here is amazing and there are some fantastic chefs including Jonnie Ferguson, junior sous-chef at The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant in Crieff, who won the Roux Scholar 2022.

“I’ll be doing as much as I can to help.”

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