Kray Treadwell Lorna McNee: It was like the whole of Scotland was cheering you on

Alex South

Alex South


Kray Treadwell and Lorna McNee discuss why Lorna believes in ghosts and aliens, working for Andrew Fairlie, and achieving her own star.

In this week’s episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen head editor Cara Houchen was joined by new co-host Kray Treadwell, Chef Owner of 670 Grams, and their guest Lorna McNee, head chef of Michelin-starred Cail Bruich in Glasgow.


During the episode, the pair discussed the differences between Edinburgh and Glasgow and what they first thought of each other when they met whilst competing on Great British Menu.

Talking about her experience on Great British Menu where she met Kray for the first time, Loran said: “It was a lot of fun. It was nice to meet lots of different chefs and different people but as I say, it was nice to meet Kray and have a drink after we'd finished the whole thing and enjoy ourselves.”

She added: “Chefs are so diverse and there's so many different people in industry that when you meet people there, they're also different in different styles of food, and different perceptions and stuff like that, so I thought it was a lot of fun to meet lots of different people and that's probably the best part about it. Seeing different foods, meeting people, sharing ideas, they were probably the best thing about it.”

Lorna was born and raised in Forres, Scotland and studied at Moray College, kickstarting her career as a chef.

Discussing her journey into hospitality, Lorna admitted that she never intended to enter the world of hospitality.

“I didn't want to be a chef. I was working in a family-run Italian restaurant up in the north of Scotland, a little village called Foress. I was just a KP washing dishes, picking parsley, and then had applied to photography school. It wasn't academic at school, the only things I liked doing was art and stuff like that,” explained Lorna.

Talking about her journey in more detail, she revealed: "I applied for photography school, didn't get in because it wasn't that good, and so my only option was if I go to college, I get a bursary and I can get a promotion at my job where I can be a commie chef and get more money. So, for me it was more I wanted some money in my pocket to earn more and I'll just do this for the time being."

Lorna’s journey in becoming a chef is similar to others who entered the industry by accident, after having other routes closed to them based on assumptions that weren’t academic, or the right fit for other professions.

"No one had ever encouraged me to do anything because you're not academic, you're not going to university, therefore, you're not good at anything. That was the kind of the impression,” Lorna said.

Whilst at college, Lorna went down to London to work at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s before working in Edinburgh at Martin Wisharts.

Moving on in her career, Lorna undertook work experience at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles Hotel at which she was the sous-chef.

Revealing how she began working with Andrew, Lorna explained: “I tapped him on the shoulder mid-eating dinner and asked if I could have a job, and he said to me, 'This is difficult. Are you really sure you want to do this now?' I was like yes, definitely. He said, 'go away and think about it for a week come back and then we can discuss it'.”

Discussing what it was like to work at that level for the first time, Lorna admitted she did face a lot of challenges, which nearly lead to her leaving her position all together and returning home.

Describing her early experiences working with Andrew, Lorna said: “There was so much to learn all at once, you're in there with some people and I've never made a mayonnaise before, I've never made a salad dressing before all these sorts of things, and everybody around me is already done all these sorts of things.”

She added: “Lots of big men or big boys around me who were all very confident and all very good and I was a young, shy, 20-year-old girl who didn't really know what I was doing.”

Despite a tough start, Lorna stayed working for Andrew continuing to master her craft with his help before quickly learning the ropes and excelling.

Explaining what Andrew was like as a mentor she said: “Chef Andrew was great because every time I said I wanted to leave or something like that or I'm not managing, he was very encouraging and very helpful to say, ‘I understand it's hard but you can be better if you do this and better if you do that, and then really encouraged me to keep doing it’, so I kept doing it and then actually got quite good and promoted within the team.”

Since starting out at Andrew Fairlie’s, Lorna has won a series of awards including Game Chef of the Year in 2016 and National Scottish Chef of the Year in 2017.

In August 2020, Lorna became the head chef of Glasgow restaurant Cail Bruich, being instrumental in the restaurant winning a Michelin Star in January 2021. The win represented the first Michelin star restaurant in Glasgow in 18 years.

Describing what this huge achievement meant for her and the team at the Cail Bruich, she explained: “Everybody around Glasgow at that point was supporting us so much and it was like the whole of Scotland was cheering you on and the whole of Glasgow was cheering you on because it was like, 'Look what someone has done for our city.' very much a Glasgow kind of thing.”

Explaining how her career differs from other chefs, Lorna said: "You get lots of people who are great chefs and they've worked lots of different places, I've not done that, I've worked in very few but just sunk my teeth into where I was learning and what I was doing and always been curious about what other people are doing at the same time to help develop my own kind of creativity and flair."

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 16th December 2022

Kray Treadwell Lorna McNee: It was like the whole of Scotland was cheering you on