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Chef profile

Kenny Smart

Kenny, a chef and business owner doesn’t like following the rules, he makes them.  He has a passion for all things foodie - from fish & chips to 3-star fine dining.  However, his heart and passion is with all things Scottish.  He’s an advocate of Scottish produce and shares this passion with his clients.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Dunfermline in Fife and Ellon in Aberdeenshire.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I knew I wanted to be a chef from a young age – 14 to be precise!

What is your favourite food memory?

Two major food memories stick in my mind; firstly, a proper British Sunday lunch at my grandfathers with either roast lamb or roast beef.  This is where I learned about table etiquette and good quality food.  The second memory is of my daughters first proper meal, a juicy and succulent slow braised ox tail.  My daughter cleared her plate! It was even more special as was also at my grandfathers, her great-grandfather’s dining table.

What makes you proud to be Scottish?

The amazing producers that work day and night to bring us fantastic delights.  That makes Scotland one of the best food larders in the world.

Chose three words to describe Scotland?

Rugged, beautiful, home.

If you were a Scottish movie character, who would you be and why?

Connor Macleod from the movie Highlander.  He is a man that is proud to be Scottish, never forgets where he comes from and fights for what’s right.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Being able to follow my dreams and make them a reality.  When you work for an employer you have set rules and guidelines.  Instead, I get to make the rules and convert new ideas into reality.  I am able to take risks on new opportunities and receive personal rewards for achievements.  I am in full control of managing and controlling my business.

What do you most love about working for yourself?

It’s not really like work; it’s getting paid to show people my passion on a plate.  I get up every day and do what I love.  It is hard work but it’s also amazingly rewarding.  Helping people make their dreams come true and watch their business grow is hugely satisfying.

What do you love the most about competing in culinary competitions?

I can showcase my style of food and be proud of it.

What is your proudest food moment?

Every time I cook for guest and they tell me how much they have enjoyed my food I feel proud.  It’s my food, my dream and I get to share it through food.

What Scottish ingredients are you most passionate about and why?

I love Scottish seafood; I live 5 minutes away from the biggest white fish port in Europe.  Fresh fish is fantastic and the versatility of what you can do with it and the variety of fish and shellfish is amazing.  Cooking it simply and letting the produce be the focal point is what Your Secret Ingredient is all about.

What is your favourite method of preparing or serving Scottish Salmon?

Curing Scottish salmon in a good quality Scottish IPA beer with grapefruit.

Where do you get your inspiration from when preparing Scottish Salmon dishes?

I like to use seasonal ingredients but I get a lot of inspiration from cookery books or the internet.

What three ingredients can’t you live without?

Good quality Scottish rapeseed oil, Maldon salt and fresh herbs.

What do you like to eat when you’re at home?

Anything that my wife cooks, it’s always healthy and tastes delicious.  If we are entertaining we keep it simple, normally sharing food, or if my daughter has her way then it daddy’s special fish and chips.

Are there any foods you just don’t like?

Kiwis! Otherwise I’m willing to eat anything.

Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?

Keep it simple; don’t bite off more than you can chew.  When you have friends and family round, they are there to see you and enjoy your company.  Make recipes that can be served family style and something that gets everyone involved and chatting around the dining table.

Best piece of advice you would give to a chef considering starting their own business?

Start small, the first year is hard and long, let your business grow organically.  Know your customers and your market, cook for your customers, not your ego.

What does ‘passion’ mean to you?

Doing something I love.

Chef name:

Kenny Smart


Managing Director, Your Secret Ingredient

Other Achievements

Head Chef Tutor, Nick Nairn Cook School
Chef Patron of Restaurant 1756 by Kenny
Head Chef at the Carmelite Aberdeen


Hospitality Management at Aberdeen College