Royal Recipes

Executive Chef Gary Robinson arrived at The Balmoral in June 2019 having travelled the world - gaining over 25 years of global culinary experience, most notably in the honourable position of Head Chef to HRH the Prince of Wales.

Gary’s vision for The Balmoral - "Coming home to Scotland opens the door to an abundance of produce thanks to our natural larder as well as artisanal suppliers and small producers that we can champion in the hotel. No other country has shellfish like we do, the game or hedgerow produce. Sustainability is at the core of everything I do and I look forward to working with my talented team and experts in Scotland to do the ingredients justice on the plate.”

From learning to pick mushrooms with forager Dru McPherson on the grounds of Balmoral Castle to pulling noodles in Hong Kong’s most historic harbour, Gary strongly believes in creating dishes that are as meaningful, sustainable and authentic as possible. Showcasing excellence within hotels, restaurants, private households and clubs, he is a strong advocate for classical cooking techniques that retain the natural goodness of home-grown ingredients. He has gained further knowledge in the classical style from working alongside Michelin star chefs Alain Passard, Jacques Chibois and Roger Verge.

Previously Gary held the role of Executive Chef at the British Embassy in Washington D.C, a position which saw him cook for numerous presidents, and also spent five years overseeing the entire Condé Nast International Restaurants portfolio. Before joining The Balmoral he launched the culinary programme for The Conduit Private Members Club in London, as well as holding Executive Chef positions at Kowloon Shangri-La and the exclusive Aberdeen Marina Club in Hong Kong.

"I was fortunate to hone my craft during my time as the former Head Chef to the Prince of Wales, and now as the Executive Chef at The Balmoral hotel, there really is nothing more gratifying than delivering food that is full of spirit and surprise. For me, the festive season is the perfect time to experiment with extravagant and memorable flavours and introduce some new and exciting local produce into the traditional recipes. From a delicious whisky sauce to a Mull cheddar mince pie, this time of year is all about serving up honest and heart-warming dishes."

Over the coming weeks leading up to Christmas, Gary gives The Lady some of his favourite festive recipes... 

"A nice bit of roast duck at Christmas is an age-old tradition, however if turkey has to be the star of the show on the big day, this sticky unctuous pie for maybe Christmas Eve dinner is well worth the effort."

Glazed Christmas duck pie

Serves 10

10 fatty duck legs

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tsp Chinese five spice

1.5kg potatoes, peeled and diced

1kg carrots, peeled and diced

1kg turnips, peeled and diced

1kg celeriac, peeled and diced

10 cloves garlic, unpeeled

5 bay leaves

300ml dry cider

300ml fresh orange juice

750g puff pastry

1 egg for wash


Rub the duck legs well with salt, pepper and five spice. Seal in a dry heavy bottomed cast iron pan, which in turn will begin to render their own fat. After a bit of colour has taken on the legs, add the vegetables, garlic and bay leaves, allow them to colour a little, and season all again with salt and pepper.

Add the cider, orange juice then cover and place in an oven at 160°C for about 45 mins. Remove from the oven, strain the liquid and reduce to a sticky gravy consistency. Flake the meat and add back into the gravy. If the mixture is too wet, strain some gravy off to serve on the side of the finished pie.

Roll out the puff pastry and cut two discs, one a fair bit bigger than the other. Egg wash the smaller of the two and pile the duck mixture on top, leaving an untouched edge about the width of a thumb. Lay the top disc on and seal the edge with a crimp. Egg wash the top and cut a steam hole in the top.

Bake at 180°C for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown, and serve immediately with buttered new potatoes, watercress leaves and maybe some braised peas would be nice too.