A top chef furloughed from an historic Perthshire hotel is using the lockdown to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant.
David Barnett, executive chef at the Fonab Castle Hotel, has spent his time off working on a new eatery in his home village of Stanley.
The project has been in the pipeline for some time, and David had secured a site and procured furniture and fittings before the coronavirus brought the hospitality sector to a halt.
Later this week, a handful of local families will be among the first to taste the fruits of David’s labour when he launches a home-delivery service.
“Being furloughed has given me the opportunity to spend some time getting the restaurant ready,” he said.
“We had planned to open the restaurant before it was completely finished. That was a purely financial decision, because I don’t have thousands and thousands of pounds of finance behind me and I have to think about things like making the rent.”
In between homeschooling his son, five-year-old William, and helping look after newborn Sophie with partner Marie Schade-Weskott, David has spent the last few weeks with his sleeves rolled up, stripping walls, plastering and tiling.
He said: “When we started this, I thought I wouldn’t have a lot of spare time to spend on it because of my job at the hotel. But obviously, that all changed because of lockdown and now the place is nearly complete.
“It’s just around the corner from my house, I had bought all the materials before lockdown started, so I just decided to get cracking.”
The King Street restaurant, previously the Apron Stage, now “looks completely different” said David.
“I had always wanted my own restaurant, that was always my big plan,” he said. “But as a chef, it is always tough to get time off to work on it. I can certainly say that lockdown has been a positive experience for us.”
The plan is to open Blasta – Gaelic for tasty – on weekends and Mondays, while David continues working with reduced hours at the five-star Fonab Castle Hotel.
This week, he is working to install an oven in order to serve up meals to be delivered by a select group of families in the village.
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