Chef has feast of a time on foodie show

Oban-born chef Graham Campbell outside his Castlehill restaurant in Dundee. Photograph: Alastair Ferrier.

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A top chef who hailed from Soroba has just starred in a £20 million food show filmed in Los Angeles.

Graham Campbell, who now masters the stoves at Dundee’s Castlehill Hotel, where he has been co-owner and chef director since 2015, was just 25 when he became the youngest Scottish chef to earn a Michelin star while heading up the kitchen at Ballachulish House hotel in 2009.

Almost a decade later, and with experience in several of the UK’s best restaurants under his chef’s hat, he can be seen on Netflix from this week battling it out in The Final Table with international chefs on what has been billed as the channel’s most ambitious and costly foodie show.

There were 10 episodes in all, but by episode three Graham was the only UK chef still left in the contest and he made it through all the way to episode eight.

‘It’s more intense than Masterchef and it saw me come up against some of the world’s best chefs. It was an incredible experience and I’m thrilled I got so far. It was filmed in Los Angeles and they put us up in a hotel in Beverley Hills. It’s their most ambitious cookery show yet and most expensive – it cost around £2 million per episode,’ said Graham, who has also featured on the BBC’s Great British Menu show.

A former pupil at Rockfield Primary School and at Oban High School, his first job was at the town’s Waterfront Restaurant, followed by a stint as a hall porter at the old Caledonian Hotel, now known as the Perle.

‘I didn’t get great grades at school. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I fell in love with fine dining,’ said Graham whose parents until recently lived up near McCaig’s Tower.

‘My Oban roots are still important to me. The seafood from the west coast is amazing and I use it whenever I can in Dundee,’ he added.

Graham also has an insatiable appetite for foraging for wild herbs, mushrooms, seaweed, sea vegetables and edible flowers.

His cooking career has  seen him work at Andrew Nutter’s restaurant in Rochdale and Paul Heathcote’s Longridge – which is where his fine-dining career first began under the multi-talented head chef James Holah, who worked with Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay.

Graham moved back home to Scotland in 2008 for his first head chef role at the Ballachulish House hotel, retaining its Michelin star. When that hotel shut, he moved on to the Lake of Menteith Hotel in the Trossachs.

He said: ‘I’ve worked in a lot of hotels, but being head chef at my own restaurant was always the goal. Working at Castlehill is wonderful. I can create the food I want. In time, I’d love to oversee six or seven restaurants with Castlehill as the flagship.’