Flash-grilled: Jack Coghill

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Jack Coghill chef patron of Jack ‘O’ Bryan’s in Dunfermline Scotland on troubling Tripadvisor reviews

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The chef patron of Jack ‘O’ Bryan’s in Dunfermline, Scotland, on troubling Tripadvisor reviews, what he orders at McDonald’s, and why a decorator’s paint scraper is a crucial kitchen utensil.

What was your first industry job? 
Washing the pots and pans in the family restaurants, my dad said all the best chefs start washing dishes as it gives them a total understanding of how the kitchen works and installs respect for when you work your way up the ranks.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Probably a radio DJ as I’ve been told I never stop talking.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Mark Tilling who has taught me everything pastry and chocolate and my old man for putting up with all my cheek and answering him back in the kitchen all these years.

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Not putting items back where they belong. An untidy dry store is total chaos too; and when chefs finish ingredients and don’t tell anyone so that it can be reordered.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Someone once asked if I was a chef while I had my white jacket on...

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence
I do my own thing and don’t follow the latest trends of the day.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
When a vegan [who hadn't eaten with us] described us as a rapist of the sea in a Tripadvisor review. It’s amazing that someone can review a restaurant when they have never actually eaten in the establishment.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A decorator’s paint scraper, it’s the best utensil for turning meat, fish etc on the plancha and for plating up.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Macaroni cheese with ribs.

À la carte or tasting menu?
Tasting menu.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
That would have to be the pigeon wellington, in a one Michelin star restaurant in Paris. The whole dish was carved like a pigeon breast and the pastry was so light and buttery - it just melted in the mouth.

What’s your favourite fast food joint?
McDonald’s! There’s nothing wrong with appreciating a double sausage and egg McMuffin for something quick and easy for breakfast. My guilty pleasure.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Sticky toffee pudding, because 90% of customers want it for dessert - I would be a millionaire by now.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu. Great to see new talent and more modern skills and concepts.

What’s the most overrated food?
Crushed avocado on toast, not much more to say about it.

You’re restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
False allergens, when you explain they can’t have something they really wanted because it contains the allergen, they have i.e. gluten, and all of a sudden its 'not really an allergy it’s more of a life style'. It's so infuriating. Don’t lie about it, just explain you would rather not have if it.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
I would have Kevin Bridges for the laughs; Gareth Ward to talk foodie talk; Lewis Capaldi for a sing along; and James Martin to cook our dinner.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Fresh clams and tomato sauce at a seafood restaurant when we lived in Spain. It was right on the seafront with all the sounds and the smells of the sea.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
The day our house and restaurant attached together burnt to the ground.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I love to go for lunch and a few tipples in Edinburgh on the days off - it’s such a great city to chill out and not have to think very hard.

What’s your tipple of choice?
Love a good rum.

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
Cider and Chinese take away. Great after a hard days graft in the kitchen.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Show up, work hard and gain the great benefits of becoming a proper chef who can take any ingredients and turn them into something delicious.

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