26th may 2020 newspage

26th May 2020 Newspage

That is over two months now since the call to lockdown came, the call to shut the hotels, restaurants and pubs in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The Coronavirus Pandemic seems to have passed over much of the world in its first flush and we will see if there is the much vaunted second wave or not.

Sadly, many people have lost their lives to Covid-19; the UK death toll sits at 36,914 with 121 new fatalities.

“Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”

In the main, the population seems to have done that.

“Stay alert, control the virus, save lives” has been a little bit more confusing with a UK / Scottish divide adding some confusion to the less obvious phrasing.

“Stay home” is quite clear “Stay alert” not quite so clear.

Thoughts are now turning to reopening, with much of Europe having opened up restaurants and bars or in the case of Sweden, never having shut them down.

What will the rest of the 2020 season bring? Difficult to try and say. No doubt, there will be some life and some businesses will strike up, pitch up their stall and trade. Others may choose not to. That is everyone’s prerogative.

At CIS, an office has been kept open at Sunnybrae in Moffat where I live and where CIS worked out of from 2009 upon leaving Wentworth Street in Portree and before the day to day business moved into the shop on Well Street in Moffat.

There are reduced opening hours for now.

Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm and shut 1pm on the Wednesday. No doubt, these hours will change. If you get an answer machine please leave a message and I will get back to you. As the jobs pick up, I will spend more time on the phones, a bit like the early days in Glenmhor on Skye, I have one landline and one fancyish mobile which will be used when the time comes.

The three ladies who worked at CIS have all started their notice periods of redundancy as of yesterday the 25th of May.

The main issues getting the CIS office back up and running Well Street would be BT and who are chasing CIS for full payments whilst there is no activity. I am loathe to pay them off.

CIS Prices for hoteliers and restaurateurs have been reduced, and CIS is keenly priced to go.

Initially, the rates for relief chefs will be down a couple of pounds also to reflect the expected supply and demand for chefs.

After 20 good years of trading, one bad year is maybe to be expected.

Hopefully, for all the decent, honest, hard-working and skilled chefs who are keen to get back to work, the work will come back.

Some- time in July?

Many of us will be ready.

New York New York

On Monday I returned to the office after 2 full weeks off. It was the most time off I have had off in a while and it was nice to come back to work with a fresh pair of eyes feeling very refreshed. I was visiting family in New Jersey. While I was there, I was keen to see some of the sights in Manhattan. For a foodie like me a trip to New York wouldn’t be anything without visiting Carlos’ Bakery in New York and the original one in Hobboken also. The cabinets are full of cannoli’s, cookies, biscuits, huge cakes of all colours and flavours and the staff were very friendly. It was quite an experience.

On the second day I visited the Empire State Building and we went up to the 102nd floor. The sights from here were astounding but the height is not for the faint hearted. It was interesting seeing the whole of New York from the very top, it was just dusk, and the sun had set by the time we got to the top. The best time to go I would say.

During the time going in and out of the city I found most people to be very nice and friendly which seems to be contrary to popular belief. There is a very severe homeless situation in the city and its very sad to see so many people who must sleep rough every night especially in the bitter cold.

I have a new love for bagels since returning home, while I enjoyed the sweet ones I preferred the savoury ones. Quick breakfast or lunch on the go and very filling. If you are visiting the city be prepared to walk as there is so much to see and do. I ticked nearly everything off my list including the Empire State Building, seeing a basketball game, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial. The 9/11 memorial for me was beautiful but very sad. The names of everyone who lost their lives on that day are written all around the water.

We also went to Carlos’ bakery, saw a Broadway show, ate a traditional New York pizza, shopped at Macy’s, visited the Rockefeller centre and the iconic Christmas tree, drank in Oscar Wilde’s bar, drove past Grand Central Station and ate a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.

Food recommendations are:

Cheesecake factory for amazing Raspberry and lemon cheesecake, Mexicue which is just a couple of blocks from the Empire State Building and they make a great Margarita! Blue Smoke (great traditional BBQ style meats), John’s Pizza place. There are about 5 pizza ovens all over the restaurant and the atmosphere is great. Oscar Wilde’s is a great bar for cocktails and is beautifully decorated for Christmas too. Shake shack for burgers and Chick-Fil-A for the best chicken sandwiches. We ate a lot in and around New Jersey including The Huntley Taverne (unfortunately not actually owned by my family!)

All in all, a great trip and I would highly recommend the city for anyone who is looking for an action-packed holiday, not one for too much relaxing!

The history of Moffat

Fancy learning some interesting facts on Moffat?

  1. Moffat is famous for having the waterfall ‘The Grey Mairs Tail’ which is the fifth highest waterfall in the Uk. With Loch Skene at the top it is a popular tourist attraction for many groups of walkers and is a lovely picnic spot if us locals fancy getting out of the town on a summers day.
  2. Moffat has the worlds narrowest hotel, The Famous Star Hotel which was previously mentioned in the Guinnes Book Of Records. The hotel is only 20ft wide and 162ft long. Featuring a bar downstairs and 2 eating areas it is a nice stopping point for a bar meal. They are also dog friendly!
  3. The Moffat Ram is a famous tourist attraction and represents the towns connection to the sheep trade. The sheep was unfortunately sculpted with no ears, something that William Brodie never knew about until it was unveiled. He later committed suicide after the burden of this was too much.
  4. Moffat is also famous for its annual Classic Car Rally which takes place at the Moffat Showground. Showcasing vintage cars, it can have up to 900 entries over the two days. It is now into its 21st year and is still as popular as ever.
  5. Let’s not forget about the famous Devils Beef Tub which sits below the Edinburgh Road. The tub is formed by four hills; Great Hill, Peat Knowe, Annanhead Hill and Ericstane Hill. It was used to hide stolen cattle as there was only one way in and out. This can be seen from the Edinburgh Road and is a popular attraction for walkers.
  6. Moffat Toffee Shop is a family run business originally ‘Mrs Blacklocks’ which opened its doors 125 years ago. Moffat Toffee is a definite must when visiting Moffat and you especially need to try their home-made toffee, which is sometimes sweet and sometimes sour. A favourite with the kids!
  7. September also marks the anniversary of Battle of Britain. Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding was one of those responsible for helping to win the battle. He was born here in Moffat and every year there is a service down at Station Park to commemorate his death and the Victory of the Battle.
  8. Up until the year 2018, Moffat held an annual sheep race which was proven to be a popular day out for the family. Unfortunately, due to licensing issues it was cancelled. A similar event was held this year, only participants dressed up as sheep raced rather than sheep themselves.
  9. The Moffat Mill, part of the Edinburgh Woolen mill branch, is a popular destination for bus tours and groups to stop off. With tartan, whiskey and highland dress inside its very popular to do some Christmas shopping.
  10. The Town Hall, now a popular wedding and party venue, was once the towns bath halls. The water was piped down from the famous Moffat Wells which was said to contain ‘healing properties.
  11. And finally, the famous Moffat Chippy. Formerly known at ‘Toosh’s chippy’ which was a family run chippy. Bettina Dawson was the owner and she was always found behind the fryers. The 90-year-old, who was the oldest fryer in the world was awarded the B.E.M medal but unfortunately passed away before getting the chance to meet the Queen at Buckingham palace in the July.

1 year at Chefs In Scotland

It’s hard to believe that I have been with Chefs In Scotland for a year now. It has gone by like a flash. Looking back on my first day in the office I often laugh at how nervous I was because it feels now as if I have always been here. From starting off with doing general references and calling chefs to where I am now is crazy. I found it easy to settle into the office as Johanna and Jessica made me feel very welcome and have supported me daily since then. I continue to have meetings with Michael every so often and it’s good to catch up and talk about how I am doing in the office and to talk of ways in which I can better myself and thrive.

After a full year in the office I feel like I have achieved a lot. The thought of trying to place a chef was very daunting when I first started but now it feels like second nature. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always as smooth and plain sailing as I sometimes wish it would be but its all part and parcel of the job which is why enjoy it. You never know what you’re going to come in to daily which is why I love it, something new and challenging every day!

Over the last year I have managed to build relationships with many establishments and help when they are in need of a chef. It is such a rewarding feeling when you manage to help an establishment get a chef, it feels like a sense of relief knowing they are all sorted.

It has been a huge change in my life starting at Chefs In Scotland. I started working in a hotel for 5/6 years as a waitress to then working in retail for a year. I felt that after a year in college I had come to a standstill career wise and needed something to change it up a bit. I had spent a full year in college and decided that after qualifying in my course it wasn’t the right career choice for me. I noticed the job opportunity for Chefs In Scotland advertised on Facebook and sent my Cv across straight away. I was then invited for a 3-hour trial one afternoon and was given the task of doing some invoices and references. I must say, a year on and invoices are still my favourite. I then started on the 1st August 2018 after a family weekend spent in Blackpool. During my first week I was eased in and started to send some Cv’s out, but it wasn’t until the 13th September that I managed to successfully place a young chef at a high end hotel situated in the Lake District. It was a great feeling and felt like a huge achievement after only being with the company for just over a month.

Now here I am a year on, and I can happily say that I have finally found the career path in which I wish to continue in. Here’s to the next year…


Out and about Friday 12th July

Relief remains tight as expected for the time of year, we have 82 relief chefs out working, we are still managing to get relief chefs booked with 24 so for this week.

If you are looking to register then please email your CV’s, reference details and hygiene certificates to
If you are a chef that is known to CIS then please just PM me or call 01683 222830 with your availability
When starting a new relief job please can you ensure that you fill out a starter form and please include a next of kin.

Here are some chefs we have out working

Blair Mackay and Thomas Scott are at Cabarfeidh Hotel
Stuart Urquhart is at Classroom Bistro along with Vytis Baltrunas
Mae Mclean is working at The Kingsmills Hotel
Don Craig is at the Kinlochewe Hotel
Gian Devey is at the Pierhouse Hotel
Jason Kennan is at the Cally Palace (this is where Jason started his career as a chef)
Roger Brown is in Oban at the Columba Hotel
Lukas Wojcik is at The Playfairs Restaurant in St Andrews
Tomi Burns was helping out a couple of days at the Comrie Hotel
Julian Robinson is at The Mackays Hotel
Sean Parkes is at the Killiecrankie Hotel
Geoffrey Mshila is at the Golf View Hotel
Stephen Mckinley is at The Inn on the Tay
Thanks to all of our relief chefs for your hard work and support 😊