Scott Davies isn’t kidding when he says the pressure on him is “immense”. Without wishing to ladle it on further, I’d say it’s also unprecedented. At 29, he’s unexpectedly become only the third head chef in the 30 year existence of the famous Three Chimneys restaurant on Skye, named as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.

His high-profile appointment came after a frantic search for a replacement for chef-director Michael Smith who gained the remote restaurant its first Michelin star last year, and who abruptly announced his departure in March, just months before the restaurant’s big 3-0 celebrations.

Head chef Kevin McLean followed and an exodus of other staff, including the front of house manager, went too. The news hit the headlines, and the eyes of the culinary world have been focused on developments since. Given the comprehensive staff clear-out, nobody was surprised when Three Chimneys lost that longed-for star when the Michelin Guide was published in October.

Founder-owner Shirley Spear, who ran the kitchen for 19 years and was an early pioneer of locally sourced ingredients, has made no secret of her relief at securing Welshman Davies, having headhunted him from The Adamson in St Andrews, Fife, which he co-founded after building an incrementally successful career, starting at the Carnoustie Golf Links kitchens and continuing at the Rusacks hotel, St Andrews, where he got three AA rosettes at the age of 26. He’s lived in Scotland for 10 years, and also worked with Adam Stokes at Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, when it achieved its first Michelin star. He was runner-up in the BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013.

He started at Three Chimneys in May and heads up an almost entirely new ten-strong kitchen brigade with Paul Fettes, a long-standing junior chef under Michael Smith, as his sous-chef and right-hand man. Paul Hughes, formerly of the Gleneagles Hotel, is general manager and Petri Pentikainen is the Finnish sommelier. Two of the kitchen team are women.

He says he’d always dreamed of running a rural restaurant, and although he’s also worked in the isle of Eriska near Oban as well as at Glenapp, he acknowledges that Colbost is not only the most remote but that the converted 18th century former crofthouse purchased by Spear and her husband in 1984 is also the most high-profile place he’s ever worked. Over the summer, he and the team worked 14 hour days, cooking for 30 covers at lunch at up to 50 for dinner in the 16-table restaurant. He notes how international the clientele is: American, Canadian, Australian, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Swiss on the evening I was there. As a result, he’s considering two sittings, one a 6.30pm for the early-eater North Americans and one at 9.30pm for those from the Mediterranean countries who like to eat later.

He also realises most diners will have driven several hours to get to him, either from Inverness airport or from Edinburgh or Glasgow, and that a tasting menu experience should thus not take more than two-and-a-half hours. Getting the balance of dishes just right requires much skill – and testing.

He is delighted at finally having the freedom to create his own dishes and to develop his menus with the help of his new team, whom Spear describes as “a breath of fresh air and new blood to take us forward”.

“I had a great team at The Adamson, but there’s a price expectation that caps a main dish at around £15, and though the food was really good, it meant you couldn’t use fine-end ingredients,” he said.

“When I talked things through with Shirley I immediately clicked with her ethos of sourcing local ingredients, celebrating our culinary heritage, and serving them simply to let them shine.”

The joy of Skye for any chef is its rich natural larder. In his £90 eight-course Skye Showcase tasting menu, as in his new a la carte, it is produce that takes centre stage, with hints of Nordic influences (he says his culinary heroes are Sat Bains, Thomas Keller and Rene Redzepi). Seafood, heather-fed lamb, foraged wild herbs, plants and berries, and heritage grains feature strongly, as do curds and the ancient techniques of curing, fermenting, pickling.

There’s Sconser scallop with confit duck a l’orange, squash and pumpkin seeds; smoked haddock with yoghurt, horseradish, brown bread ice-cream and honey; roast langoustine, crab, pearl barley, Mull cheddar and mussels; 24-hour beetroot cured salmon, pickled cauliflower, black pudding and crispy quail egg; huge sweet Harport oysters three ways; Lanarkshire quail with damson puree and a tea of roast potato skins; local Blackface lamb with baby gem and buttermilk dressing; Cairnsmore goat’s cheese and curd with candied walnuts and mulled cider granite; and the classic Three Chimneys hot marmalade pudding souffle with mealie ice-cream.

He says his food is different from his predecessor Smith's, and that it is unlike that of Marcello Tully, head chef of the Michelin-starred Kinloch Lodge down the road at Sleat. “Marcello’s very classical, whereas I’m looking back to history and tradition and bringing it into the 21st century,” he says, fondly citing the wild foraged cranberries and wild samphire his Portree supplier has told him about. He also mentions heather-smoked wild grouse with heather butter.

So is he hoping to regain the Michelin star? I understand the inspector was in during the first week of July, just after Michael Smith had departed and Davies was on his own. No doubt they have been back since. But chef reckons there’s “nothing worse than chasing stars” and that instilling his ethos in the team takes absolute precedence. “Once that has gelled, who knows?” The Three Chimneys has had three AA rosettes continuously for 16 years. Their inspectors have discussed this with Davies, and he says they were “most helpful”.

Further pressed, though, he does admit his vision for the future is to get four AA rosettes and to regain the Michelin star, but adds that this is only achievable with a settled, happy staff. “Happy chefs make happy food. That will show in our food.”

He’s not planning another move soon, having just purchased a house in Colbost with fiancee Charlotte Poynton, who is Three Chimneys’ assistant front of house manager.

For now, it appears that coping with pressure is as natural as the landscape around him.