We now have everything we need, scallops, salad and salt so head straight to the restaurant. It’s about a 25 minute drive on the island, we follow the road around until we hit a jetty and we can’t drive any further. In front of us is the open ocean and a view across to Isay, below us the slipway gently disappears into the lapping waters. Directly behind us, with this fantastic view everyday, is Michael’s restaurant, Loch Bay.
Michael Smith is a Michelin starred Chef and has been based on the Isle of Skye since 2004. He joins us on the jetty with his dog Willow. He has a beanie, fleece, shorts, yellow socks and walking boots on, he smiles and says “Right then, what have you got for me me?” We hand him the produce and turn and head back to the restaurant to get cooking. As we walk he says, “These local ingredients have had so much care and attention already, my job is to practice the virtues of restraint and bring these flavours together.”
Michael has been on Skye since 2004 and worked at the Three Chimney’s restaurant. He took the reputation to new heights getting listed amongst the top 50 restaurants in the world and gaining a Michelin Star in 2014. Then in 2015, the opportunity to take over Loch Bay arose and he jumped at the chance. He leads us into the kitchen, puts on his chef whites and gets started on the dish. As he cooks he tells us about the producers he uses “Businesses support other businesses here on Skye. This isn’t just because they are close but because they consistently deliver amazing produce and that makes my life easy.”
It’s not long before Michael is finished cooking and plates up. The ingredients lay elegantly on the white plate. Carefully chosen baby leaf and micro herbs sit on the pan seared scallops, which have been flash fried with lemon and butter and have a drizzle of beurre blanc sauce and pinch of Skye sea salt over the top. Nothing is there that doesn’t need to be. He says as we finish every last morsel smiling and nodding with delight, “Food is about enjoyment, it’s about generosity and because of that it should be handled responsibly.”
With the rise of the supermarkets and convenience food we often don’t think about the provenance or seasonality of our diets. This trip we learned about about the importance of good ingredients, the focus on seasonal taste and that great food that is on our doorstep. It is easy to see why this approach to food brings visitors to Skye from all over the world. The producers we met and the food we tasted all celebrate this special island. It’s extreme seasons and northerly location force locals to think seasonally, to work with the environment and support each other. In this one simple dish we experienced decades of skill and experience from the producers, as well as world class cooking from Michael to cleverly bring the flavours together in a collective plate of beautiful tasting food.