Six Andrew Fairlie Scholarship finalists announced

The  Staff Canteen

HIT Scotland has selected the six final chefs competing to be one of two Andrew Fairlie Scholars for 2020-2021 

With support from the Scottish First Minister and government as well as The Gleneagles Hotel, the scholarship was first held launched in February 2019 in honour of chef Andrew Fairlie and his significant and lasting contribution to the hospitality industry. 

The finalists are the following

  • Spud Henderson, 31, Chef de Partie at Craig Millar @ 16 West End
  •  Ryan McCutcheon, 28, now Chef Patron at Achray House Hotel
  • Peter Meechan, 24, Junior Sous Chef at The Strathearn at Gleneagles
  • Amy Stephenson, 22, Chef de Partie at The Torridon
  • Zdenka Tomova  28, first commis, Streathern at Gleneagles
  •  Josh Wilkinson, 25, Senior Chef de Partie at the Isle of Eriska Hotel

Contrary to most culinary competitions, the scholarship will recognise not one but two young chefs, one male and one female, who will be invited to stage at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world and will receive support from within the industry to realise their potential.

Last year, the scholarships were awarded to Emma-Rose Milligan, 24, from Kilmarnock, and Joseph Harte, 24, from South Queensferry.

A date for the finals has yet to be set and organisers will do so in accordance with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Stephen McLaughlin, head chef at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie and lead judge, said: 

“This has been an extraordinary year - a year like no other for us all!  It is a period of time when it could have been easy for many chefs to have lost focus and allowed self-discipline and their skills to have slipped - all of course understandably so.

"I am thrilled to have selected six chefs from our many applications for the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship Finals Day. Each have all shown in their applications a fine sense of drive and an unwavering commitment to themselves to develop, learn and rise to challenges in front of them.  We have returning finalists from last year’s Scholarship who I hope and also do expect to have grown and learned from their experience. As well as this they will have been able to share their experience with aspiring and future applying chefs.

"This is of course part of the essence and privilege that comes with the importance of being part of the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship journey.  Being ‘match fit’ will be key for Finals Day. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing how our Finalists have been keeping their minds sharp and their knives keen during what has been odd and difficult times, when they perhaps wouldn’t have had as much time behind their stoves as they would have wished.”

Previous winner Emma-Rose Milligan said: 

“It has been an amazing experience being involved with this scholarship. Having my culinary skills tested in front of some of the UK’s best chefs was nerve wracking, but a good learning experience for me, and I was so happy to win.  

"Unfortunately, Covid-19 has meant Joe and I haven’t yet been able to travel to take part in our placements in London and abroad, but I had an amazing experience at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, it was fantastic to be part of the great team working in harmony to produce exceptional food, and I learned a lot. Good luck to this year’s finalists!”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The Scottish Government is again proud to be supporting this fantastic Scholarship in honour of Andrew Fairlie. In his life and career Andrew did so much excellent work to inspire the next generation of ambitious, talented chefs in Scotland.

" It is great to see so many young, up and coming chefs, aiming to benefit from the Scholarship. I would like to congratulate each of the finalists who have already done remarkably well and wish them all the best in the final stage of selection and beyond.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th January 2021

Six Andrew Fairlie Scholarship finalists announced