Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Lorna McNee, Scotland heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th August 2018

Meet the Great British Menu 2018 chefs from Scotland: Lorna McNee

This year Lorna McNee takes on Benedict Reade and Ross Bryans in a bid to make it through to the Great British Menu 2018 banquet which celebrates 70 years of the National Health Service. This year’s brief is to create celebratory and heartfelt dishes in tribute to the heroic staff of the NHS.

Lorna is a junior sous chef at the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles.  A keen meat cook, Lorna was the first female chef to win the Game Chef of the Year competition in 2016 and last year, she was crowned Scottish Chef of the Year. She spoke to The Staff Canteen about her surprise at being asked to take part in Great British Menu.

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Lorna McNee

Why did you want to be involved in Great British Menu?

For young chefs, you see all these great chefs on it and you think I'd love to do that one day. It’s one of those things you think you have to be a head chef, or own your own restaurant - just to be ‘up there’. To be approached for it was great – I was pretty taken back and I couldn’t believe I was even asked.

This years’ theme is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS – how easy was it for you to come up with dishes to be served at the anniversary banquet?

I found it quite hard – speaking to the other chefs, they found it quite easy as it was quite an open brief. You could really do your own take on it. It’s one of those things that you want to do well at in order to give back and you almost over think it. You have to take a step back and say ‘you are here to celebrate the NHS’, you don’t necessarily have to have a theme of a hospital. It’s just to give back to them and more of a celebration and to say thank you. You want to create something that is spectacular and something that they have never had before.

What does the NHS mean to you and how rewarding is it to possibly cook your food for these incredible individuals?

To be involved in something like this is amazing – they do such a lot and it’s a great thing to be involved with. In the TV show, you will see that I have a blood condition and I visit the hospital every six months. They do a lot for me and it’s great to give something back. It’s well worth it to do something like that for the NHS.

How difficult is it to cook in the Great British Menu kitchen alongside other chefs?

You are there to be in a competition and you want to win, so it is nerve-racking. However, after the first day or two, you start to get to know each other and it becomes a little bit more fun. I went in there with a huge amount of pressure on my shoulders (as that is the kind of person that I am), but once you relax and start to enjoy it  -it’s a more fun thing to do.

What was the best part about being on Great British Menu 2018?

Probably getting to cook the food that I like to cook for other people. It’s nice to have someone else look at your food and what they are looking for.

Were there any negative parts to being on Great British Menu?

I don’t think so – probably just the stress of it all.

How did you find the criticism and being judged?

I quite like it – I really do appreciate criticism and getting feedback – I prefer it rather than telling me something is good and it’s not. 

Were you more nervous about being judged by the veteran chef or the judges?

Probably both really – you are cooking alongside some great chefs as well, so I was probably more nervous about having them taste my food as well. 

Do you have any standout memories during your time on Great British Menu?

I remember getting pulled aside by my veteran at the end and him saying a lot of really nice things to me. It was one of those kinds of moments that was very surreal.

Would you take part in Great British Menu again?

Yes, for sure!

Would you encourage your peers, colleagues and chef friends to take part in a competition like Great British Menu?

I would tell them to give it a shot. It will make you better and stronger and even if it doesn’t go your way you still learn from it. It’s a great opportunity and you should definitely go for it.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th August 2018

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Lorna McNee, Scotland heat