Garry Rae: Head Chef at Glasgow's Mansion House
Garry Rae is the head chef at Mansion House, the recently opened Novus Leisure venue on Glassford Street.
The Merchant City venue comprises four very different eating areas: The Glasserie, Merchants, Kanaloa and Jewel. Garry is involved with all aspects of the food served in each concept area and he designed the menu in The Glasserie which features a host of Scottish themed dishes included haggis dumplings, Cock-a-leekie terrine and lamb with shepherd’s pie croquette.
Hailing from Lanarkshire, Garry Rae has built an impressive CV over his years in the industry, working in well known establishments such The Popinjay Hotel, The Carlton Bridge Hotel and also with Scottish Gourmet Direct.
In the latest Chewin’ the Fat interview, he tells 5pm about the Mansion House, his daftest customer complaint and why his fridge at home is off limits.
The colourful Glasserie at Mansion House
Can you tell 5pm blog readers why they should come and eat at Mansion House?
Encompassing four different eateries, Mansion House offers a diverse dining experience in Glasgow, from fusion tapas, Spanish tapas to traditional Scottish fayre. Glasgow is a city of culture and we have something to suit all palates.
The Glasserie within Mansion House offers brasserie style dining. The menu was designed with a Scottish slant to help celebrate the delicious produce we have sourced locally. However, we have also kept on a number of all time favourites including our freshly made burgers and roast duck with red cabbage and apple.
What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
Anything that is fresh, seasonal and full of flavour.
What do you like to eat on a night off?
Anything my wife makes – her speciality is pasta. It is delicious.
Which chef has inspired you?
Bill Hart has been my biggest inspiration throughout my career. I worked with Bill for eight years when I was starting out and in that time he taught me a lot more than cooking. He taught me how to be professional and how to conduct myself in a professional manner.
Is there anything you don’t like cooking with?
I don’t enjoy working with wild hare.
Merchants at Mansion House
Is there anything you couldn’t eat?
No, tasting foods is all part of being a chef. It is important that you try everything once.
What has been the most exotic thing you have eaten?
Calamari steak in Bertha’s restaurant in Cape Town. It was absolutely delicious.
What gadget/utensil can’t you work without?
A good quality chef’s knife – it is essential.
Ketchup or Maldon sea salt?
Maldon Sea Salt – without a doubt.
You can get anyone in the world to cook you a meal. Who will it be?
Marco Pierre White. Marco’s was the first cookery book I ever bought and actually read – it inspired me to go and cook and experiment. After reading that I didn’t need a cookery book.
Apart from your own establishment, where do you like to eat out?
Smiths in Uddingston. The food is delicious. The chef transforms dishes using good quality produce.
What is the best thing about being a chef?
The camaraderie with the team in the kitchen. You spend so much time with them that they become your second family.
And the worst?
As a chef you work long hours, but it is always worth it.
Have celeb chefs been a good or bad thing on the whole?
In my opinion I think they have been a bad thing. It seems everyone nowadays is a budding chef which, to me, takes away the true meaning of cooking.
What’s been your worst kitchen disaster?
At a previous job, we had been setting up the starters for a wedding reception with 150 guests. The starters were plated up on the one table ready for service and someone accidentally tripped over the table leg. All 15o starters went crashing to the floor ten minutes before the guests were due to be served. Fortunately, we managed to remake all the dishes within the time. I don’t think the bride and groom ever knew.
Who cooks at home?
It might seem strange but I rarely cook at home. Instead, I leave the cooking to my wife. She loves experimenting in the kitchen.
Chefs are well known for drinking in moderation but what would you cook for a colleague who was suffering from a hangover?
A fry up, washed down with a can of Irn Bru and served with a side of Anadin. You cannot beat a bit of grease and the nation's fizz to bring you back to life.
You are preparing a special meal for your wife. What’s cooking?
On the rare occasion that I do cook at home, I often make my wife pan roasted cod with peas, broad beans and streaky bacon. It’s her favourite.
What is in your fridge at home?
No idea – I am not allowed to look in it.
What has been your most memorable meal?
This was in Cape Town again. I was there last year during the World Cup and I visited Gordon Ramsay’s at the One & Only. I had guinea fowl to start followed by halibut and finished off with six or seven small desserts. Everything was just perfect: the food, the service and the ambience.
Tell us your daftest customer complaint?
A customer that couldn’t understand why her coronation chicken sandwich had curried mayonnaise in it - instead we made her a coronation chicken sandwich with almonds and sultanas mixed into chicken mayonnaise. No matter how strange the customer’s request is, we will always try and make it.
Jewel bar at Mansion House