A chef from the North East has picked up the top ‘National Restaurant of the Year’ accolade at the Hotels of the Year Scotland Awards 2023-24.

Born and raised between North Shields and Newcastle, Michael Leathley, 40, is the head chef at The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant at Port Appin in Argyll for just over three and a half years.

He has now settled in Scotland with his wife Ieva to raise their son Jonas (5) on the picturesque Argyll coast.

After his restaurant was recently crowned Scotland's finest, Michael attributed some his culinary talents to an early love of smoked fish, eaten whilst growing up on the Tyneside coast. 

The Northern Echo: Michael Leathley

Michael said: “The thing that reminds me most of my childhood is smoked kippers. When I was very young, my mum worked as a graphic designer and there was a festival she would be involved in with all kinds of artists and musicians taking part. One of the snacks you would get there
would be a whole kipper in a soft white roll.

“The smell of that – the smoke, butter and mustard – brings it all back. It’s memories of smoky fish and kippers that opened that entire door for me. I was a very strange child – I loved smoked fish at a really young age and would always be quite excited about it.

“I grew up in North Shields and my granddad was an inshore fisherman. When he retired from sea fishing, he took up eel fishing around Northumbria and would smoke his own eels down at his allotment.”

Tucked away on the shores of Loch Linnhe, award-winning restaurant The Pierhouse offers breathtaking views to the islands of Lismore and Mull.

The hotel’s renowned Scottish seafood restaurant is led by Michael and is one of Argyll’s "most idyllic and romantic destinations".

Michael added: “It’s a real honour to have picked up this year’s top ‘National Restaurant of the Year’ award and help put our wee corner of Argyll on the UK’s foodie map.

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“We work really closely with a network of the region’s best local producers and suppliers, including the freshest langoustines, mussels harvested from Loch Linnhe and Loch Etive, as well as fine handpicked oysters from the oyster beds of Loch Creran, just 10 minutes from the hotel.”

Growing up on the North East coast around North Shields and Newcastle, Michael was never far from a fish dish and his love for seafood, which he still carries today, began in his earliest years.

The Pierhouse Hotel restaurant has three silver stars, two AA rosettes and is also included in the Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland 2023.
For more information about The Pierhouse, visit https://pierhousehotel.co.uk