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Emma Clark

Joint Owner Glenegedale House, Islay, Chair Explore Islay & Jura, Scottish Food Ambassador

  • What was your favourite subject at school?

Music – definitely Music. I played the fiddle, accordion, whistle, piano, clarinet and drums. So it was something I enjoyed and could escape in to.

  • What was your first job?

I worked in my parents’ hospitality business from the age of 14 doing changeovers, laundry, breakfasts and dinner service as well as food prep however my first paid job was as a nanny in Har Nof the Jewish sector of Jerusalem in Israel for a Jewish Orthodox couple and their three wonderful children. As an island lassie from the West of Scotland this was a culture shock for me however was so interesting and an amazing experience. I returned to Scotland in September 2016 to study my nursing degree at Robert Gordons university in Aberdeen.

  • Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?

Oh gosh what a tough question, we love taking mini breaks in Scotland and have so many that we would return to. We make a point of eating out when we are on “the mainland” to experience different cuisine and get ideas for our own business. (Sharing best practice definitely not pinching ;-)) At the moment my favourite would have to be Gleneagles Hotel, we are back there next month to celebrate some very special birthdays in our family. Our favourite restaurant – Andrew Fairlie. We have had the most amazing produce cooked to perfection with the perfect level of service – attentive, friendly, knowledgeable, and professional – a true art! Our other favourite is the oyster bar on Islay, rustic but with the most amazing local produce cooked beautifully from here on Islay which is usually after a beautiful long walk on Machir bay and with friends or family and full of giggles.

  • How do you inspire your team

Honestly!!!! Have fun, hospitality is hard, amazing, tough, and wonderful all wrapped into one. Inspiring our small team is about having fun and making sure they have the tools and experience to be proud of each and every job they do regardless of what that is. We have the most amazing people working with us and have done over the last 11 years. Our staff retention is brilliant and that makes us very proud but is definitely because our small team work with us for the end goal not for us.

  • Which person in hospitality have you most admired / inspired you?

Shirley Spears. Without a doubt I love the raw honestly and passion she has showed over the years, her support, her strong opinions, her drive to grow her business even when times have been tough and support her family while having an exit plan to enjoy life post hospitality leaving a thriving business for the next people to take over from and share with visitors.

  • How do you manage your stress levels?

I think I have got better at this over the years and partly as with the help of Hospitality Health’s media campaigns it almost gives us the permission not to always be feeling perfect. We put on a show and essentially host diner parties every night and captivate our audience with happiness and positivity which makes them have the most amazing experience – we create feelings and memories. Doing this and indeed the sheer stress of running and growing a business over the last eleven years and particularly the last few it can be magical but also take its toll. I head for the beach and walk our dogs. In November last year I started running again so we will see where that takes me maybe this answer will change!

  • Instagram, X (Twitter) or Facebook – and why?

I enjoy all three for different areas of life however being made to choose it would be X (Twitter), its faster paced, less wordy and “generally” a place where we meet new and old colleagues that are doing amazing things.

  • If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you
    think you would be now?

I always wanted to study law and given the right environment and opportunity I would love to have followed that dream.

  • What did you do on your last days off?

We headed to the beach for a walk with the dogs, baked some new cake recipes to enjoy on the Land Rover club run and then had friends round for dinner had way too many expresso martinis, lots of giggles and my heart was full of magical memories to start the season with.

  • What do you do to relax, to support your wellbeing?

I love to read and walk. We try to bag as many trig points here on Islay to get to see new places with amazing views. I do get very addicted to a good book and find once I’ve started a new one, I struggle to put it down so I am quite careful now about when I read. I really dislike TV so find myself spending time making plans and researching for future days off, holidays and days off even a year in advance. It gives us something to look forward to.