Flash-grilled: Roy Brett

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Roy Brett chef patron of Edinburgh's Ondine Oyster & Grill on the ups and downs of running your own restaurant

Related tags Restaurant Edinburgh Chef Fine dining Seafood

The chef patron of Edinburgh's Ondine Oyster & Grill on travels in South Africa, staying humble, and the ups and downs of running your own restaurant.

Why restaurants?
Why not. That’s what I always wanted to do growing up. I always had an underlying interest in cooking, and it really appealed to me. Growing up, I used to watch Keith Floyd on TV with his tours in France and I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. I followed the dream.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I would say, to make sure you look after yourself and your own wellbeing as much as everyone else’s. I think that’s so important for me and for my team.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants?
Andrew Fairlie in Scotland has always been a favourite of mine, Andrew was a good friend, and I was always inspired by him. The Quality Chop House in London and Saltwater Fish Company in Newcastle.   

What motivates you?
To always try to do a better job than I did the day before. That’s what motivates me each day.

What keeps you up at night?
It would have to be staff notice periods!

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the hospitality business?
I have a few who I have worked closely with over the years, and they have definitely been my biggest influencer and inspiration and taught me so much – Ken McCulloch, Rick Stein, Alan Hill and Mark Hix.

Best business decision?
To go into business on my own and make the decision to open Ondine Oyster & Grill.

Worst business decision?
Also, to go out on my own and open my own restaurant. It is the hardest and most challenging but equally the most rewarding.

Coffee or tea?
Always Coffee. However, it must be a really good coffee! My wife Karin makes a great flat white Nespresso at home, and I always have this to start the day.

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
It would have to be my tuna, anchovy, and tomato penne pasta. It’s a big hit at home with the family.

Typical Sunday?
Always a big walk with the dogs and family and friends. Perfect Sunday!

Favourite holiday destination?
South Africa. It has such an incredible range of wineries and an extremely high standard of service. The quality of produce is not often talked about or celebrated nearly enough. My favourite spot is Ken Forrester Vin Yard. It sits in the heartlands of Stellenbosch. Ken makes the most incredible Chenin Blanc. It’s the best wine tasting you could possibly wish for.

What are you currently reading?
The book that I am currently reading is Roast chicken and other stories​ by Simon Hopkinson – he is witty and a fun food writer.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
To always stay humble. Stay grounded and true to yourself. I think this is important, especially if you want to grow and evolve in the industry.

If you could change one thing about the hospitality industry today, what would it be?
To get more time and allow people to have more time. To have the time and the chance to do all the ongoing training and development for all of our team. I always feel like we never have enough time to do all that we want to do.

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