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Andrew Fairlie Scholarship 2019

Meet the Judges - Gary Maclean

With the launch of the inaugural Andrew Fairlie Scholarship, we’re getting to know the expert judging panel. Now it’s the turn of Scotland’s National Chef, Gary Maclean.

Gary Maclean - Executive Chef Lecturer at City of Glasgow College and Scotland’s National Chef

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Gary Maclean rose to fame as winner of Masterchef: The Professionals and has gone from strength to strength since then, being appointed as Scotland’s National Chef in 2017. Gary opened his first restaurant at age 30 and has been executive chef lecturer at the City of Glasgow College for 16 years.

As an educator, Gary has a passion for mentoring aspiring chefs – here, he tells us more about his career and what young chefs should prioritise when embarking on their careers.

Could you tell us a bit about your career background?

“I was born in Glasgow and spent my early career working in hotels, where I learned a number of key skills. At the age of 21 I became the head chef of an award-winning restaurant. From there I went on to run the kitchens at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art and the Burrell Collection.

“I have also held executive chef positions at two of Scotland’s largest independent operators and during that time developed and opened over 80 restaurants and hotels. My current role at City of Glasgow College is what really drives my passion for mentoring young chefs.”

Can you remember the first menu you designed?

“Yes, my first menu was in a small 30-cover fine dining restaurant. I was lucky because from a young age I understood that the quality of the food coming from suppliers was the key to good food, so my first port of call when writing my first menu was to ask my suppliers - what have you got that’s good?”

What is your favourite thing about working in hospitality?

“For me, the endless opportunities that the hospitality industry can provide. Another amazing thing about it is how diverse it is - your career direction can change as you change as a person.”

What are the biggest challenges facing aspiring chefs today?

“I don’t think the challenges are any different from when I started out. Taking the right path and opportunities throughout their career is key - don’t chase the money and put your career in the hands of the very best.”

What impact do you think the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship will have on Scotland’s hospitality sector?

I think the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is going to have a real impact on the Scottish food industry for decades to come. The scholars’ lives are going to change, and with that change they will impact the quality of Scotland’s reputation and standing in the culinary world - just as Andrew did himself throughout his career.”

What 3 words would you use to describe a potential Andrew Fairlie scholar?

Committed, hardworking and ambitious.”

Do you have any advice for applicants to the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship?

“It’s simple – apply. If you don’t do it someone else will. Opportunities don’t just happen, you have to make them happen, so apply!”

The Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is an incredible opportunity for aspiring chefs – you can find more details and apply for the scholarship here.