Introducing Chef Joe Peden

Karma Lake of Menteith has quickly established a reputation for delicious culinary creations based on locally sourced, farm to table ingredients. And there is much more to come: taking up the head chef mantle is one Joe Peden – a chef with a passion for food and a thorough knowledge of Britain’s culinary heritage –  which runs far deeper than some might suspect. Joe is something of a culinary superstar in Scotland, having worked with legendary American chef Elliott Moss who’s had multiple James Beard Award Nominations over the years, and having run an extremely successful streetfood franchise in Glasgow.

Joe kindly took some time out from his busy kitchen to answer a few questions for Karma Community…

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Brighton.  And then moved up to Scotland to the little village of Brig o’Turk in the Trossachs. A beautiful village with roughly 140 people and an average age of 70+ (probably not accurate but not far off!).

How did you get into cooking?

I used to work out front in restaurants but in one venue I worked myself up the ranks as high as I could and there was no further progression so I moved to the kitchen and just fell in love with it. Restaurants also opened a whole world of new foods to me as I was trying new cuisines and eating things I’d never even heard of let alone tasted.

What/who have been your biggest influences?

My Mum’s always been a food influence. As long as I can remember there’s been an emphasis on home cooked meals from scratch, nothing fancy but just good homemade food, and everyone sitting at the dinner table. Another influence was Dan Bryant. I fell out of love with cooking for a while –  I was fed up with cooking food I wasn’t into and wasn’t my style. It was so boring to me. But former Karma Lake of Menteith head chef Dan and I had this joint passion for BBQ and classic American food, with him working out in America for several years. So we used to make briskets and pulled pork which then led to me reading up on this food I was newly into. I started making gumbos, jambalaya, jerk chicken and it just steamrolled from there!

This led to me going out, visiting and working in an American smokehouse in Asheville North Carolina with legendary pitmaster Elliot Moss who had previously won and been nominated for several James Beard awards for being a fine dining chef and then went “why on Earth am I doing this food when my passion is whole hog BBQ?” which had been in his family for generations and he opened his own place Buxton Hall BBQ.  Six months later it was voted the 9th best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit. This resonated with me so much I went out to meet him and we sat all night in his restaurant and ate BBQ, talked about REAL country music, and he showed me how to work a pit and that was me…I was hooked. I came back and opened my own street food business, doing the foods I loved and was passionate about.

What is your first food memory?

My plans foodwise are to bring my style to the venue. The customers have changed a lot since I left in 2017 so currently I’m assessing the clientele with the menus, working out what people do and don’t want. But I want the food to be accessible for everyone price and food wise. We are planning to bring in family style roasts so you can come to us on a Sunday no matter your family size and have a roast dinner like your Mum would have made (but without having to cook and do the dishes) which was a big thing for me. Sunday roasts in my family are when everyone gets together and catches up so I wanted to recreate that in the restaurant.

What are the best things about Scottish ingredients?

The best thing about Scottish ingredients is there is so much variety just on your doorstep. Even from the kitchen door I can see Rednock estate who we work closely with and which is where we get all our game like venison, pheasant and recently woodcock. We have a fishery next door where we get our trout – there’ve been event days where they’ve turned up with 350 fish! We also have an asparagus farm just down the road, which I’m looking forward to putting on the menu when the season comes.

Describe your approach to cooking in three words

Let’s get weird. Or fun, flavour and colour 

What dish do you always return to?

The dish I always go back to is my jerk chicken thighs, coconut rice, pineapple salsa, peanut slaw and grilled corn. It’s spicy, it’s colourful, it just hits the spot!

What Karma Lake of Menteith dishes are you particularly loving at the moment?

I love the corn ribs with salsa matcha, or the Szechuan pepper oyster mushroom. They are my personal favourite dishes at the moment.

Book My Scottish Sojourn


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *