Willie Pike celebrates the 10th year of the Scottish Chefs Conference

The  Staff Canteen
This year The Scottish Chefs Conference celebrates its tenth year and is set to be the biggest showcase of top name chefs they have ever had. The Staff Canteen spoke to organiser and founder, William Pike, about this year’s conference, the chefs involved and how important it is to inspire the chefs of the future. Willie-Pike1On November 2 over 700 delegates from the hospitality industry will descend on the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow for the 10th Annual Scottish Chefs Conference. This year there will be ten top chefs demonstrating culinary signature dishes and organiser Willie Pike and his team ‘intend to make it an awesome extra special day not to be missed by anyone’. He explained: “It is the tenth anniversary and we are focusing on 10 so 10 years, 10 chefs demonstrating their own very special signature dish. The gala dinner in the evening will feature 10 dishes cooked by 10 students from 10 different colleges.” Having attended many chefs conferences south of the border and demonstrated at The Skills for Chefs Conference in Sheffield on many occasions, in 2006 Willie felt that it was time to have an annual conference in Scotland. “I set out to improve the quality of the chefs daily life and for them to enjoy even more our great profession,” said Willie. “If we could expose the chefs to the great chefs demonstrating and showcasing their dishes, skills and techniques this would hopefully excite and remind them of how special our Industry is. “Another fabulous benefit was our partners and sponsors who all have a natural empathy with the chefs and had something to offer them whether it be labour saving equipment, product, crockery, training or advise.” He added: “It was always an intention to have our future chefs involved encouraging them tophil howard sc 2014 low res seriously consider a career in our profession. In 2007 we invited every catering college in Scotland to identify their best 10 students and bring them along free as delegates to our conference. We have now extended this offer to every college in the U.K. and further afield and have had lecturers and students from Northern Ireland and London’s Westminster in attendance. Last year we had 750 day delegates, this year for the Anniversary we are expecting circa 1000!” Demonstrating this year will be Steven Doherty, ex 3 michelin star chef Le Gavroche; Ruth Hinks, Callebaut Ambassador and World Class Chocolatier Cocoa Black; Tom Kitchin, Michelin-starred chef at The Kitchin; John Johnstone, chef director, Augusta National Georgia in the US; April Partridge, best young chef 2014; William Curley, M.C.A. and Master Patissierie; Angela Hartnett M.B.E. and Michelin-starred chef entrepreneur; James Jockie Petrie, Executive Creative Chef Gordon Ramsay Group; Andrew Fairlie, two Michelin stars at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie and Clare Smyth M.B.E. from 3 Michelin star, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Willie said: “We have a fabulous line up this year, these guys are the best and have something to offer our audience in their own very unique way. At least fifty per cent of our audience are female and it is important that we have the top female chefs in our line up and we certainly have the very best in the business.” He added: “As this is a very special year we have invited some of the chefs back who were involved in the first year namely Andrew Fairlie, Tom Kitchen and William Curley” SC 2014 low resWillie has some fond memories from over the years including Alan Murchison’s unique style and vibrance, Paco Torreblancas genius and Daniel Clifford in a kilt! Equally these events don’t always go to plan and the conference hasn’t been without its disasters. “Demonstration wise all the chefs have been great,” said Willie. “I always try and get the chefs up on the day before so they are relaxed and organised but a few years back we had the brilliant Michael Caines flying up early on the day of the event and he ended up fog bound at the airport, sitting on the plane going nowhere! As a quick contingency I apologised to our audience and did the demonstration myself.” Hopefully this year’s conference will go without a hitch and with such a superb line up of culinary talent you can see why Willie is excited about the tenth anniversary. He said: “To have 10 of the world’s finest chefs demonstrating their own unique signature dish and explaining to the audience why the dish is important to them, their careers and their customers is a must for any serious or aspiring chef. It’s not to be missed!”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd October 2015

Willie Pike celebrates the 10th year of the Scottish Chefs Conference