RAYMOND GARDNER bids a fond farewell to one of Scotland's most

colourful chefs.

AE fond kiss, mon Jacques. Last week a chef from whose table I, and a

companion or two, have consumed many culinary delights, hung up his

toque. It was a sad occasion, the end of an era even if it has been only

a decade that I have known the man.

Remember the Rogano under the Grant family, with the customers under

the thumb of the late-lamented Donald Grant? Remember John Mitchell in

his reign as the ''chandeliered'' Malmaison's cocktail barman who could

really mix a gin and it? For that matter, remember the 101, Guys,

Ferrari, and the Gay Gordon before that queer business when they changed

its name to Chez?

Then you will remember the Fountain in the early eighties. Ronnie

Mitchell (no relation to the aforesaid John) was his avuncular self

front of house; Fermin won fame as the sommelier who could speak legends

on any vintage but never drank the stuff.

And behind the scenes was a chef of some considerable record. Jacques

Molinari was born of a French mother and an Italian father in the

Pyrenees. That was sixtysomething years ago. His was to be a classical

training; he was born, not so much with a silver spoon in his mouth, as

with an edition of Prosper Montagne Larousse Gastronomique in his hand.

Readings from the grail were regularly taken.

His father, after all, had worked in the kitchens of Auguste

Escoffier, ''the king of chefs and the chef of kings.'' With such a

background, it was not surprising that Jacques was to wear the whites


He came, as indeed Escoffier did, to London. His patch was the Cafe

Royal rather than the Carlton. There were to be periods elsewhere until

he ended up in the Gosforth Park Hotel in Newcastle which became a name

to be reckoned with; just as in its curious way the Malmaison was to

become the flagship of BTH hotels and, rather than one of their London

establishments, host the most famous salon dining-room in all of


Jacques Molinari came to Glasgow and the Fountain restaurant at the

behest of James Duncan, a Scottish businessman who opened a restaurant

for no better reason than that he loved his food. He certainly could not

have loved his profits.

Our Jacques was legendary for throwing costs out the window. ''I am a

chef, not a bloody accountant,'' he would scream in his wonderful

Franglais, concluding the argument with the some finality by saying:

''You British are so funny.'' Costs were not all he would throw. When

Duncan sold the Fountain, Molinari moved to the Kelvinpark Lorne Hotel

which has been bought and refurbished by another businessman, Maurice

Taylor; refurbished out of ''the red-light era'' is how Taylor puts it.

It was in the kitchens there that, challenged by a manager over his

failure to achieve the asked-for profit margin, Jacques simply lifted a

saucepan and flung it straight across the room at his incredulous


Jacques Molinari was born in Bagneres de Luchon, just ten miles from

the Spanish border, where his father owned the Hotel Angleterre. He went

to school there and, when the hotel closed after the summer season, he

trotted off to another school in Monte Carlo, where his father worked

the season in the renowned Metropole.

When not at school, he carried bags and washed pans before being

elevated to a real kitchen position. So continued a culinary tradition,

and it does not end with Jacques Molinari's departure from our shores.

Today a third generation leads a brigade which may be found easily in

the Good Food Guide and Michelin, but with a little more difficulty in

Newport-on-Fergus, County Clare. It is there, at Drumoland Castle, that

son of Molinari, Jean-Baptiste, may be found. Whether he continues the

tradition of flinging pots and pans at managers, I do not know.

What I do know is that, after a short holiday with his son in Ireland,

Jacques is returning to his beginnings -- to Luchon, to live in the

family house where he was born.

It was at the Kelvinpark Lorne in Sauchiehall Street that a small

group of people sat down to bid Jacques and his Belfast-born wife Betty

-- ''Belfast-born but convent-educated I'll have you know,'' she would

always say -- a fond farewell.

Since it was Jacques's farewell he could hardly cook the meal and that

unenviable task fell to his sous chef of seven months, Paul McGurl.

There were some surprises in store, not least an eloquent chicken

consomme from which I would have excluded the noodles.

But the piece de resistance was a classic dish which has since been

renamed Lamb Molinari. It has, in fact, always been a favourite of the

maestro himself. In this creation, the roast saddle of lamb appears

boned-out but with the thick sweet fat left partially attached. Peeled

and chopped garlic is placed between the meat and the fat.

It is presented as cutlets lying on the jus topped with unpeeled

roasted garlic. It might indeed have been a dish fit for the ''king of

chefs and chef of kings.'' Jacques, of course, turned up his nose at the

potato and almost had apoplexy when offered vegetables. As he put it:

''I am a Frenchman, don't you know, you Scottish are so funny.''