From washing dishes at The Carnegie Club in the Scottish Highlands to living on the Gold Coast and walking to work as the Head Chef at The Ruby Collection, David Murray’s career journey has a little bit of everything.
Tell us about your cooking journey – Where and when did you first discover your passion for cooking?
Like a lot of chefs, I began in the sink washing up at weekends and in the evenings after school in the kitchen at The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle, near my hometown in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a really special place, beyond ratings and stars. It inspired me to work in Hospitality, and I went on to study Hospitality management at Aberdeen University, but I really wanted to cook. So, I took an apprenticeship at a small luxury hotel in the Aberdeenshire countryside and returned to Skibo Castle two years later as a qualified chef.
What or who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?
When you’re passionate about something, anything can inspire – travelling, reading books, eating out, visiting suppliers, foraging for ingredients. Most of the chefs I have worked with have inspired me in some way. I am a fan of Gordon Ramsay – he has worked hard to get where he is, plus he’s Scottish and looks like a celeriac (my favourite vegetable!).
What do you love most about your job?
Thats an easy one, the opportunity to travel.
What training did you do to become a chef?
We all do apprenticeships, but real training happens in the kitchen at work, with paying customers. The training doesn’t really stop – I am still learning. Working 14 hours a day for eight years in London was pretty good training. You’re ready for anything after that! Competing in the Academy of Culinary Arts, Awards of Excellence and failing the first attempt, then gaining the award the following year was a steep learning curve.
Where have you worked before? Have you worked with or for any particularly notable chefs?
A Skibo Castle as mentioned, as well as Claridges Hotel in London. I worked with Alyn Williams at the Westbury London, and for Roux Scholarship-winner Andrew Jones for several years. I have worked at Michelin star restaurants in Ireland and Switzerland and have also spent some time with Alex Atala at D.O.M in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Where did you grow up and how did you end up at the Gold Coast?
I was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, but I grew up in the Highlands not far from Loch Ness. Four-and-half years ago a good friend from New Zealand – Luke Carpenter, a chef I had worked with at Skibo Castle around 12 years before – asked me to come to New South Wales to help him to open a restaurant. It was winter in Scotland at the time, so it was a no brainer really. From there I went on to get residency and decided the Gold Coast was the ideal place to settle.
What has your experience at The Ruby Collection been like so far?
A whirlwind! We didn’t have access to the kitchen until three days before opening and had to work around the builders. We were setting up wearing helmets. It was a bit hectic, but we have a great team and we nailed it. It’s not often you get the chance to start from new, so it’s really exciting.
Talk us through your favourite items on the menu – what inspired them, and what do you love about them?
I love all of the seafood dishes, especially since I have discovered so many new species of fish in Australia that we don’t get in Britain. Our guests seem to love the Lobster Risotto – I suppose the combination of lobster, fresh peas, parmesan and truffle is always a winner!
What is your philosophy when it comes to cooking?
Use quality, seasonal ingredients, sourced as locally as possible. I like to keep things reasonably simple yet elegant, and concentrate on getting maximum flavour from the produce. Perfect seasoning is essential. I’m also not afraid to use cream and butter – I believe when people come out to eat they want to indulge, but there are always a couple of lighter options on the menu. I always cook what I would like to eat.
Are there any exciting new menu items that people should look forward to? Can you give any hints?
We are changing the menu soon so you will have to come and find out by making a booking online here