Having worked with Andrew Fairlie for an incredible 26 years, Stephen McLaughlin knows more than most what it will take to live up to the great chef’s legacy as a recipient of the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship.
Here, Stephen gives us an insight into his own career path, the amazing opportunities working in hospitality can offer and what he will be looking for when judging the aspiring scholars.
Could you tell us a bit about your career background?
“I am the head chef of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Glenegales, and have been for the past 12 years. I was part of the opening team at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie back in 2001.
“I previously worked at One Devonshire Gardens, a boutique townhouse hotel in Glasgow, and was part of the team that won a Michelin star there in 1996.
“I was extremely privileged to have worked with Andrew for a total of 26 years.”
Can you remember the first menu you designed?
“Yes, it was for Hogmanay in 1999:
Ballotine of duck foie gras
Warm lobster salad
Salt cod and caviar
Wild mushroom ravioli
Slow roast turbot
Loin of wild highland venison
Apple and calvados souffle
Vanilla ice cream
A menu designed to bring us into the new millennium.”
What is your favourite thing about working in hospitality?
“I love the creativity that working in hospitality brings and the access it provides to phenomenal produce. It offers the chance to travel and to meet those who are also travelling.
“Also, being able to provide customers and staff alike with life-changing moments is fantastic. For example, you can create a flavour moment that somebody will remember forever, or even pass a little nugget of knowledge to a young chef that they will take with them wherever they may be cooking.”
What are the biggest challenges facing aspiring chefs today?
“I think it is important to find a kitchen where an aspiring chef will learn at least one new thing every day - it could be anything from how to tie their apron correctly to how to answer the telephone properly. Being shown a new technique may also unlock many doors along their culinary path in the future.”
What impact do you think the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship will have on Scotland’s hospitality sector?
“An immeasurable one, I hope. The Andrew Fairlie Scholarship will create chefs who will continue to nurture and inspire future generations of great Scottish chefs and kitchen managers.
“To be able to nurture talent is a whole skillset in itself, and it is our dream for every restaurant to have the benefit of being influenced by a chef that has been either trained or polished by an Andrew Fairlie Scholar.”
What 3 words would you use to describe a potential Andrew Fairlie Scholar?
“Passionate, talented and honest.”
Do you have any advice for applicants to the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship?
“Think carefully before you apply. If you are chosen to go through the various selection stages and then if you are fortunate and deserving enough to be the recipient of an Andrew Fairlie Scholarship, you will be expected to continually fly the Andrew Fairlie flag in a manner that suitably represents the man himself - no pressure!”
The Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is an incredible opportunity for aspiring chefs – you can find more details and apply for the scholarship here.