The morning show at Dudkowski’s house begins at this time with a butter picnic for the overzealous Border Collie.
The rest of the family begins to rise through the usual negotiations, manipulations, and turmoil. Nothing that freshly ground coffee and breakfast can’t control. I have a quick scan of the morning news and check out any nightly deliveries from the Three Chimneys team before I head off to school, which is closely followed by the course of action. The morning trip to Three Chimneys is really amazing in every season and really lifts the spirits. As I make my way through the hills, my attempt to dodge straying from a large number of sheep keeps me sober. They are the true owners of Skye with grazing rights very close to the road. As I approach the hotel, I can often spot seals and dolphins in Dunvegan Lake.
The hotel breakfast is a real treat for our guests and when I get to work I try to spend time with them when they have finished eating and they start making plans for the day. At this point, it’s a good idea to get their perspective on the meal experience they had the night before. With a seasonal menu in constant transition as chef Scott Davies sources local meat, fish and meat, it’s important to know which dishes are truly memorable.
The rest of the morning is never the same, as I summon every skill set I can muster to fix a leak, secure a loose door, or find someone who can. On Skye, this can be a challenge in itself. At some point, I’m also trying to do a morning run to chat with our awesome team. We are very proud of their passion and dedication to excellence and they constantly inspire me with their ideas and positive energy. Skye’s bounty starts arriving at The Three Chimneys right after breakfast ends. The quality of this product is critical to every dish and Chef Scott chooses what he needs on the menu. When it comes to seafood, we will leave the hotel to pick up directly from the fisherman when he returns to shore. Call from the trawler and Scott or head to the harbor to pick out the latest in crabs, langoustines and lobsters straight from the boat.
Lunch brings visitors to Sky who often come from or go to tourist attractions such as Neist Point, Fairy Pools or Dunvegan Castle. When the sun comes up (and it does sometimes, believe me), the outside tables have to be outfitted with umbrellas and cushions, and before the guests arrive, I quickly check our gardens to check that the sheep and rabbits haven’t done too much damage either. An essential part of my role is to make sure the stage is set to welcome our lunch customers. The afternoon schedule can vary greatly, but so is when I sneak in a bite of the sandwich and fruit that my daughter Maya lovingly prepared that morning. She often comes to Three Chimneys after school, and if she doesn’t get her homework done hard, she’ll take a trip to collect langoustines or crab with me.
Dinner time is when the three chimneys come to life. Residents of the hotel and Kitchen Table guests will meet in the lounge at House-over-By for pre-dinner drinks and appetizers from 6pm onwards. This is another one of my favorite parts of the day where I can connect with our new guests and enjoy hearing and sharing Isle of Skye stories. Many of our guests come back to us and I enjoy their excitement as they head to the restaurant for another memorable meal. Heading up our restaurant team, Chef Scott and his Kitchen Brigade, Danny and Kieran take charge as guests settle into the dining room and my day begins to fade.
I come home in time for dinner, because eating with my family is very important to me. The meal is usually prepared by my wife who is a great cook and baker. When I’m not working, I enjoy hunting and foraging for mushrooms and on the odd occasions when I’m preparing my evening meal, I’ll try to use these locally sourced products.
As the day draws to a close, I wrap myself up with a good book, or I’ll watch an interesting movie or courtroom drama on TV. I also enjoy researching Scottish history. My current reading is The Killing Fields of Scotland: AD 83 to 1746 by RJM Pugh.
It’s bedtime now, then I’ll sleep until Butter wakes up the next morning.
The Three Chimneys is a finalist for the Scotland-sponsored Sustainability Prize for Food and Drink at the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2022. Winners will be announced on 28 October, see www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com
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