Chris Rowley is the head chef and owner of Ballintaggart Farm up in the idyllic Perthshire highlands in Scotland, which last year featured in The Michelin Guide. With four bedrooms, a restaurant and a cookery school on site, Ballintaggart has been such a hit with adventurous foodies. With most of the ingredients grown in the kitchen garden, foraged from surrounding land, or sourced from local artisan producers, the farm celebrates simple, sustainable ingredients cooked with thought and skill. In recent years, Chris has also gone on to open The Grandtully Hotel nearby; a boutique hotel with a bar and restaurant, which shares the same focus on Scottish seasonal produce within a more brasserie-style menu.
Chris joined Lloyds Bank on a graduate scheme and proceeded to work there for ten years in various marketing and brand roles. Towards the end of his time there, Chris started to experiment with a pop-up food business and supper club at the weekends. He then went on to work at The Gardener’s Cottage restaurant in Edinburgh which confirmed his desire to change career and pursue his passion for food. “I recognised that some formal training would help me understand the theory and method behind the dishes which I was so enjoying cooking in the restaurant. I also knew that I wanted to start my own business one day and the opportunities and experiences that Leiths could offer to help me to do this was another draw.”
“I moved to London from Scotland to complete the diploma, and went from a decent salary every month to being a student all over again, this time with a young family. Working part-time whilst completing the diploma was challenging and exhausting at times. I’d urge anyone embarking on the course now to balance working hard and getting results with trying to enjoy every minute. When things get tough now, or I’m out of my depth, I always remember how I felt at Leiths; supported and confident, but also that feeling slightly uncomfortable and pushed at times often leads to better results.”
“I love working with, and talking about, food every day. I love working with like-minded, passionate people (including many Leiths graduates who we recruit) and creating experiences which our guests will love. Having worked for years in a career which didn’t give me a huge sense of job satisfaction I can now look forward to work and know that, even though some days are better than others, there’s no such thing as a bad day at the office anymore.”
“Get as much experience as possible. All the unpaid work experience I did whilst at Leiths turned into paid work opportunities and often having a foot in the door helps. Being humble helps too, no matter what you have done before Leiths remember you are embarking on a new career and respect colleagues who have worked in the industry for longer than you.”