John Quigley – private rock star chef, now owner of a gluten free restaurant
John Quigley is a private rock star chef, now owner of a gluten free restaurant. Read here more.
Why did you become a chef?
I came from a large family who loved to to travel and who loved to cook and as a child I spent summers in France and Spain experiencing new and exciting things and flavours. I also enjoyed cooking for my 6 brothers and sisters from the age of 14 I enjoyed cooking for my six brother and sisters when my parents were working, At the age of 20 I failed at art school and needed a job so I started washing dishes in a restaurant and this was the start of my journey.
Back to the time when you learned to become a chef. Which cooking school did you visit and what was the most valuable learning out of there?
I am self taught but worked with some influential people.
John Quigley in Scotland
Can you tell us something more about the cooking school system in Scotland?
We have many well organised cookery schools but we need to combine practical experience with theory.
What are some of the traditional Scottish techniques/ dishes which are unique?
Scotland was once the largest sugar ports in the world and as a result we have a sweet tooth and have created a reputation as world class bakers and confectioners, baking, sugar work, chocolatiers etc. We also have a world class larder with the best game, seafood, sea vegetables and soft fruits.
You are from Glasgow. Is there an even more specific Scottish dish?
Glasgow does not have a signature dish apart from the bad reputations like fish and chips but there are many good restaurants serving the best local produce.
How would you describe your todays culinary line as a chef/ what are your special dishes?
I like to cook dishes people know and love, I like to cook in a simple straightforward style with the emphasis on good produce.
Before you opened your own restaurant, you took the opportunity to travel the world as a private chef to rock stars and celebrities such as Bryan Adams, Tina Turner and Guns n Roses. For you as a Chef: was it that great for you as it sounds?
Yes! I got to travel the world, 56 countries, every american state, all first class travel, but as a chef I saw so much in so many different environments, different things, cooking methods etc and there was the odd party ; )
As private chef: did you have the freedom to set the menus, or did you need to wait for the wishes of your clients?
As a private chef you consult with the client to what they prefer and then try to create dishes they will find familiar and love.
In 2005 you and your wife Gillian opened the restaurant Red Onion: How did the first year went? Though as to be expected?
Hard, fast, chaotic, crazy,exhausting, rewarding satisfying.
John Quigley about the Red Onion
The award winning Red Onion has been testaments by The Good Food Guide to the consistently high standards of you and your team and his team. How do you manage to keep the level high?
Hard work, enthusiasm, training, loyalty and a love of food and what we do as a team.
Shortly after, your wife was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease you offered an amazing selection of gluten free alternatives ever since. There’s even a “Gluten Free Pudding of The Day”. To be honest; was it difficult at the beginning to cook gluten free?
Yes it was difficult as we were using 2 sets of things eg, gluten free flour and regular flour or gluten free breadcrumbs and regular breadcrumbs but now we use more gluten free things so we have less things and less prep.
What is the most difficult part for a chef to cook gluten free?
Being aware of cross contamination, working with gluten free flours which behave differently.
Does some of your quests miss the gluten?
Nobody notices any difference.
Seasonal and regional the big issue today: how does it impact your work?
We work as close to the seasons as possible and try to use Scottish things, it can be difficult when some seafood for example is too expensive or unavailable and customer especially foreigners expect Scottish seafood.