LEGENDARY chef Albert Roux, who is devising the menu at the hotel bought by Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, has described the Westminster government as "lamentable" in promoting Scotland and said the Scottish Government was doing a much better job.
Just hours after Murray marched into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open yesterday, Roux was in Scotland to launch a public tasting of 100 dishes being considered for the menu at Cromlix House Hotel, near Dunblane.
And the three-star Michelin chef said: "I love Scotland but the Westminster government has been lamentable over the years in selling it as a place of exquisite beauty with world-class-quality natural produce.
"I am not political but as an observer all I can say is we have never been better served by the government we have. Since the present (Scottish) government took power, there has been a big change for the better in terms of selling Scotland to the world."
Roux, whose restaurant Le Gavroche in London's Mayfair was the first in the UK to win three Michelin stars, recalled when he was invited to prepare a lunch in Amsterdam using Black Angus and other Scottish produce to celebrate the end of the ban on British beef following the BSE crisis, nobody from the Westminster government turned up.
He contrasted that with Scottish food minister Richard Lochhead's attendance at La Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, the most prestigious food showcase in the world, to promote Scottish products.
At Cromlix House, which is being managed for Murray by Inverlochy Castle Management International with Roux as its industry expert, the menu will be predominantly Scottish seasonal produce.
The chef has launched a series of four-course public testing menus which will run all this week at the Chez Roux restaurant at Greywalls Hotel in Gullane, East Lothian, costing £30.
They have been prepared by Roux and executive chef Darin Campbell, formerly of Bistro du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow.
All 122 places sold out within hours earlier this month and diners will be invited to complete a form with their comments before a final decision is made on what to serve at Cromlix House when it opens on April 1.
The hotel, at Kinbuck, will also offer a Lounge Menu of £25 for two courses aimed at those who can't get a seat in the restaurant.
Roux said the hotel had attracted interest from as far afield as China, Russia, the Philippines, Australia, Canada and the US.
He added: "I have never seen anything like it. Everyone I meet anywhere is the world is talking about Andy Murray's hotel and its menu. I expect Cromlix to be extremely busy. This venture is vitally important and it has happily absorbed a lot of my time and thought.
"Chez Roux at Cromlix will make an impact across the world very quickly due to the quality of Scotland's produce and the people involved. Our association with the Murray family has proved excellent."
He also revealed 80% of the 40 kitchen and front-of-house staff at Cromlix would be Scottish, having been recommended by other chefs or through Campbell, who had received numerous approaches from chefs keen to pursue their careers in Scotland.
Perthshire-born Andrew Turnbull, formerly of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles Hotel and One Devonshire Gardens, will be unveiled today as senior sous-chef.
Murray himself has not yet tasted the food planned for Cromlix House and although Roux has not yet met the Wimbledon champion, the player has eaten at Le Gavroche with his mother Judy.