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New head chef for Isle of Islay golf hotel

The Machrie & Golf Links on Scotland's Isle of Islay has announced the appointment of Iain Nicholson as the new Head Chef at 18 Restaurant & Bar.

With an impressive career spanning over 12 years and across a multitude of award-winning restaurants, Scottish-born Nicholson brings a wealth of experience and creativity to the position.

At The Machrie, Nicholson plans to create dishes centred almost exclusively around Scottish ingredients, with most of the produce sourced from Islay or Argyll.

Working with local fishermen, farmers and crofters living within a few miles of the hotel, he will make the most of the island’s bounty of seafood, game and freshly grown vegetables to develop menus that reflect the seasons and are as sustainable as possible.

The cooking at The Machrie will reflect Iain’s training under some of the world’s best chefs blended with his own Scottish heritage, reflecting his passion for pure, fresh and simple food.

Nicholson's skills were honed under the helm of renowned chef Albert Roux, working as a Sous Chef across his Scottish and London restaurants, including the iconic two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche.

His career has taken him across the globe, gaining valuable experience in the US, France, and Switzerland, as well as some of Britain's top restaurants such as The Adamson, The Rav, Mingary Castle and The Atelier. Iain joins The Machrie from a position of Head Chef at Vie Montagne in Verbier.

An experienced forager with a passion for native ingredients, Nicholson is the creator of Nobadfoodlab.org, a website showcasing foraged ingredients and designed to educate budding chefs about Scotland’s natural larder.

No Bad Food Lab also acts as a forum for Nicholson to develop and share new dishes. Nicholson’s philosophy for using the very best of local, seasonal and sustainable produce aligns well with that of The Machrie’s.

During the pandemic Nicholson took the initiative to retrain as a tree surgeon, providing him with the opportunity to further explore his love of the great outdoors, and set up his company ‘Life’s a Birch Tree Care’. Now settled on Islay, he is delighted to have returned to his roots, harnessing the island’s ingredients to create fresh, bold yet simple dishes that reflect the seasons.

Nicholson enthused, “The pandemic provided me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try something new, but I am delighted to be back in the kitchen to start my new journey with The Machrie.

'Cooking, and the creativity that comes with it, will always be my life’s passion and I have exciting plans in the pipeline.

'My aim is to put The Machrie on the food map, providing diners with an exclusively Scottish experience as possible. I want guests to be able to close their eyes, taste my food and know exactly where they are, and I look forward to achieving this as The Machrie.”