News

Aberdeenshire Chef Tastes National Success at Hospitality Awards

David Littlewood, Raemoirs Award Winning Chef

It was a case of third time lucky for David Littlewood when he was crowned Scotland’s Chef of the Year.

Competing against some of Scotland’s top chefs, the Executive Chef at the AA 2 Rosette Raemoir Country House Hotel, Banchory on Royal Deeside, won the title at ScotHot in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest hospitality, tourism and catering show.

David, 30, had been a finalist in the prestigious competition in 2009 and 2011, and commented after being presented with the trophy and £1,000 cheque: “Winning this event is phenomenal. It really was a tight competition and I had no idea I would win. When the results were called it seemed like a lifetime until my name was called out.”

The eight finalists had to prepare and cook a four course meal in front of judges including Albert Roux, co-owner of the three Michelin-starred Waterside Inn at Bray in Berkshire and the inspiration behind some of the UK’s top hotel restaurants.

David was previously at the Milton Restaurant in Banchory, whose then owners Neil and Julie Rae invited him to head up the kitchen at Raemoir when they bought the hotel in September 2010. After a period of refurbishment, Raemoir was voted Scotland’s Country House Hotel of the Year in 2011 and 2012 in the Scottish Hotel Awards – an unprecedented double.

A Masterchef of Great Britain, David has won numerous accolades over the years including Grampian Young Chef of the Year in 2002 and Grampian Chef of the Year in 2007.

It is believed to be the first time in over a quarter-of-a-century the Scottish title has been won by a chef from Aberdeenshire.

David paid tribute to Raemoir sous-chef Alex Hay, who assisted him during the competition, the hotel’s Head Chef John Chomba and junior sous-chef Sam Ritchie.

“Alex kept me calm and focussed during the event and she was instrumental in this success,” he commented. “In the weeks leading up to the competition John and Sam tasted the dishes as I practised and gave invaluable feedback. This win was very much a team effort.”

David Littlewood’s winning menu:


The Summer Marquee Ball

Cheque for £30050 being handed over to the Gastroscan team

We are all proud and delighted to announce that we presented the funds from the 2012 Summer Marquee Ball over to Gastrocan last night.

THE GRAND SUM OF £30,050.00

This will be used for research into gastric cancers in the Grampian area. Our heartfelt thanks to all the Gastrocan team and everyone who supported this years event.


Raemoir wins Top Award

2012 Scottish Hotel Awards logo

At the Scottish Hotel Awards 2012 on Sunday (20th May at the Glasgow Thistle) we picked up the Country House Hotel of the Year award for the second year in succession, a feat which has never happened in the history of the event! Over 480 people attended the night and saw Neil & Julie Rae presented with the award by the Chairman of the Judges, Gary McLean-Quinn.

Neil and Julie took over Raemoir House in September 2010 and embarked on a refurbishment programme to help restore the hotel to its position as one of the leading Country House Hotels in the North East of Scotland and the result of this was to win the 2011 Award. “To be recognised and awarded the accolade of Scottish Country House Hotel 2011 was fabulous. To be awarded it again this year is a remarkable achievement. To be recognised so highly by the Scottish Hotel Awards is a fantastic compliment and we can only thank everyone that has been involved in the hotel from the start, it’s reassuring to know that all the efforts so far have not been in vain.”

At the same ceremony Raemoir’s Executive Chef, David Littlewood, won the category Hotel Chef Médaille d’Or. “David and the team have been with us from the start and they have been widely recognised for their food. It was wonderful to see his efforts being rewarded with a Gold Medal.”


Summer Marquee Ball – From Logan Sangster, Ball Organiser

group photograph Marquee Ball organisers

The 2012 Summer Marquee Ball will be changing both date and venue this year. After the event going out to tender, the 2012 Summer Marquee Ball will now be held on Saturday 25th August at Raemoir House Hotel, recently voted Scottish Country House Hotel of the Year for the second year running.

Neil and Julie Rae, owners of the hotel are delighted to welcome the Ball to Raemoir.

The Summer Marquee Ball, last year broke through a fundraising landmark by raising over a quarter of a million pounds for local charities since it began back in 1998. Over the years the ball has supported many charities including The Archie Foundation, Macmillan Cancer Support, Children 1st, Click Sargent, Altzheimers Scotland, Friends of Glen O' Dee, Aberdeen Special Nursery and The Scolty Centre.

Last year was one of the most successful events raising £28,500 for Homestart Deeside.

This years beneficiaries are to be Gastrocan.

Gastrocan is the only charity raising money specifically for the research into stomach and oesophageal cancer. All funds donated to Gastrocan are used to support local research efforts in NHS Gram pain, and the University of Aberdeen into this devastating disease, allowing local patients to benefit from the latest new treatments and enable the University of Aberdeen to lead national and international research projects. By supporting research, Gastrocan aims to improve the treatment of stomach and oesophageal cancers, and at the same time, raise awareness of the disease to enable earlier diagnosis.

Banchory based Fundraising Co-ordinator for Gastrocan, Laura Tulloch, commented that “the charity was delighted to be chosen as this years beneficiary from the Summer Marquee Ball and the Gastrocan team were looking forward to working alongside the Ball committee and Raemoir House”.

Anyone wishing to support the Ball by either a donation for the charity, a Fine Auction or Grand Raffle Prize, or even some company branding, please contact Logan Sangster or Dawn Law on 01330 824300.

We take this opportunity in thanking Mrs Margaret Jaffray and team at the Banchory Lodge Hotel for all their support over the last few years.


Summer Marquee Ball

Raemoir marquee lit up at evening time

The 2012 Banchory Summer Marquee Ball will be changing both date and venue this year - it will be held on Saturday 25th August, at the 2011 Scottish Country House Hotel of the Year, Raemoir House and owners Neil and Julie Rae are delighted to welcome the Ball to Raemoir.

Held in aid of charity the event last year broke through a fundraising landmark by raising over £250,000 for local charities since it began back in 1998. Over the years, the ball has supported many charities including The Archie Foundation, Macmillan Cancer Support, Children 1st, Click Sargent, Altzheimer Scotland, Friends of Glen O' Dee, Aberdeen Special Nursery and The Scolty Centre and last year was one of the most successful events, raising £28,500 for Homestart Deeside.

This year’s beneficeries are to be Gastrocan which is the only charity raising money specifically for the research into stomach and oesophageal cancer. All funds donated to Gastrocan are used to support local research efforts in NHS Grampain and the University of Aberdeen into this devastating disease, allowing local patients to benefit from the latest new treatments and enable the University of Aberdeen to lead national and international research projects. By supporting research, Gastrocan aims to improve treatments and at the same time, raise awareness of the disease to enable earlier diagnosis.

Banchory based Fundraising Co-ordinator for Gastrocan, Laura Tulloch, commented that “The charity was delighted to be chosen as this years Summer Marquee Ball beneficiary and the Gastrocan team are looking forward to working alongside the Ball committee to make it a successful event.”

Anyone wishing to support this years ‘Gastrocan Summer Marquee Ball', by either a donation directly to the charity, the Fine Auction or Grand Raffle Prize, or even some company branding, please contact Logan Sangster or Dawn Law on 01330 824300.

The Ball Committee also take this opportunity to thank Mrs Margaret Jaffray and her team at the Banchory Lodge Hotel for all their support of the Summer Marquee Ball over the last few years.

Neil Rae of Raemoir House said “We have been lucky enough to have been to the Ball for the last two years and it is a tremendous event, both for the local community and for the charities it supports. Logan and his team have put a lot of effort into it over the years and we are delighted that Raemoir will be able to help them continue their excellent work.”


August 2011
The Raemoir “Hilltop” Restaurant

Dining at the top of the Hill O' Fare

At Raemoir we are always looking for something different for our customers so we have started taking brides and grooms up the Hill of Fare for a unique photo opportunity. It’s a fabulous setting and it was during one of these shoots that we came up with the idea of possibly serving dinner there. This year for the Banchory Summer Ball auction, organised for charity by Logan Sangster, we decided to offer Dinner, Bed & Breakfast for 2 with the dinner being served on top of the Hill. The lot was so successful that we were encouraged to enter another for Dinner for 10. The bidding was extraordinary to say the least and we were absolutely delighted that the combined lots raised almost £4000 for charity. Of course, with such endeavours, there are always things that are not thought about initially – in this case some form of shelter, and given the “summer” we have just had it was completely necessary! We asked Esslemont Marquees if they could help out and…..well the picture tells the story. The dinner for 10 turned into 14 and the original dinner for 2 into an 8 such was the excitement and desire to share the experience. David, our Executive Chef, created a fabulous menu, all prepared in the marquee and the weather thankfully remained dry, although we did think that our own Hurricane Irene was determined to join in for a while! Would we do it again? Absolutely - how unique an experience do you want?


4th July 2011

Straight on the back of being awarded 2 Rosettes for food we can now announce the arrival of our new Commis chef Sam Ritchie who was recently crowned Grampian Seafood Chef of the Year 2011 at the same ceremony where our Sous Chef Alexandria Hay won the seniors Chef of the Year award. Sam joins us from the highly respected Cock & Bull Restaurant and we are delighted that he now takes us up to a unique position – the only hotel in Grampian and Scotland with four regional Chefs of the Year in the kitchen. We have a lot to do at Raemoir to re-establish it as one of the leading Country House Hotels in Scotland and such commitment to the kitchen underlines the importance we put in providing a top quality product that cannot be matched elsewhere.


24th June 2011

We are delighted to announce that Raemoir has been accredited by the AA with 3 Star status for the hotel and 2 Rosettes for its food. This is a fantastic award, especially as they have rated Raemoir with an exceptional 85% merit score which is on par with some of the top hotels in the UK, the national average being just over 76% so we are thoroughly delighted. Such recognition so early in our time at the Hotel is a reflection of the all hard work that has gone in by everyone involved at Raemoir and to receive 2 Rosettes immediately demonstrates that we are on the right track to making Raemoir a truly exceptional and unique Country House Hotel. A great achievement.


Another winner...
by Neil Rae

Its been over 9 months now since coming to Raemoir and I am struggling to recall everything that has happened (and hasn't happened for that matter) in what seems a very short time! I had ideas about writing a few notes on a Blog every couple of days, if for no other reason than to have a diary to look back on, but as it seems with everything at the moment it is just one more job that hasn't quite reached the top of the priority list.

The list itself is a source of constant bewilderment and reminds me of a music Top 40 where the top 3 changes weekly and an occasional new number one appears right out of the blue. At Raemoir the top 3 seem to change daily with 'out of the blue' entries happening with regular monotony!

What doesn't change is the continuity of the quality of the food that the kitchen offers and this is what this news item is really about. We have over the years, starting at The Milton, developed an excellent brigade under the guidance of David Littlewood and it was important for us to continue this at Raemoir. David is a past Grampian Chef of the Year, as his right hand man, John Chomba both of whom achieved these titles when at the Milton and both of whom are Masterchefs of Great Britain. Sous Chef Alex Hay also tried her hand at the competition when she was at the Milton and having won the Junior section two years ago, came a creditable third in the Seniors last year. This was clearly not enough for her though and, following the footsteps of her peers, she came to Raemoir, entered the competition and won it last month, and up against some stiff competition.

I hadn't really thought about it but it suddenly dawned on me on the night that we now have 3 Grampian Chefs of the Year in the kitchen, a first for Raemoir and for Grampian. The future looks exciting as well with some of the developments that the brigade are proposing so watch this space for more news but for now the moment belongs to Alex Hay, Sous Chef at Raemoir House Hotel and Grampian's Senior Chef of the Year 2011.


Excitement continues to grow
by Neil Rae

I will be writing a frequent blog on life at Raemoir in this section of the website where there will also be announcements and up-dates on forthcoming events.

Julie and I took over the hotel in September 2010, a time of great excitement as we embraced the mammoth task of restoring it to its former glory.

A simple enough task, of course. Well, it is if you have no idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. It’s extraordinary how time passes and, despite the time that has elapsed, it feels like there is probably more to do now than there was then.

We set about clearing-out and re-arranging every area and department; repainting, carpeting, cleaning, fixing, heating, staffing….a never-ending list. Then the long hard cold spell over the winter of 2010-11 came and transformed the hotel and grounds into something fabulous and magical. With the weather, however, came leaks which meant more heating, more fixing, more cleaning, more carpeting.

Gradually the inside began to take shape though and we were satisfied that we were on the right road. Customers commented on the fresh and bright interior, the welcome, the comfortable beds, the ambience and we accepted all the compliments with gratitude, but there is always a doubt in your mind. Are we taking Raemoir in the right direction?

There is no intention of transforming it into a boutique hotel or soulless modern operation. We like to think that retaining its features as they are is the way forward, create the traditional Country House feel and charm yet provide the necessary and expected modern services and comforts.

The relaxing, easy-chaired lounge, the grand panelled dining room, the snugness of the Big Fish bar, the individual and quirky bedrooms all combine to give the atmosphere of a bygone era, though the occasional blue LED flash from the WiFi booster reminds us that we are in the 21st century.

It seems idyllic, and on occasion we still find it hard to believe, that we have the opportunity to rekindle Raemoir’s fortunes. There is so much to do, and sometimes it feels that there is too much to do, but there is always something that happens to restore your faith and energy. The invitation to Glasgow for the Scottish Hotel Awards 2011 at the end of March was one of those moments. To be asked in the first place was exhilarating. To be amongst peers of the industry who have been involved in it for a lifetime was fascinating and educational. To be awarded the Country House Hotel of the Year 2011 was simply stunning. That the efforts put in by everyone at Raemoir so far have been recognised and rewarded with such an accolade is fantastic to say the least. It provides a tangible reassurance that our vision for the hotel should stay as it is - a home from home for all those who visit.

There is a long way to go, with a great deal of hard work and the inevitable sacrifices along the way, but hopefully the journey will be worthwhile and Raemoir will always be your Country House Hotel of the year – every year.


Raemoir appoints PR consultants

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Frank Gilfeather Associates as our public relations and marketing consultants.

The company, established in 1989, is headed by noted local journalist and broadcaster, Frank Gilfeather, and has a long history of advising a large number of companies and organisations on media and public relations.

www.gilfeather.co.uk