Andrew Fairlie Scholarship winners announced

The Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland has announced two worthy recipients of the fourth annual Andrew Fairlie Scholarship. 

Darren Seggie, 35, Lecturer of Culinary Arts at City of Glasgow College and Rachel Bremner, 34, Commis Pastry Chef at The Balmoral, were the talented chefs who most impressed the expert industry judges. 

Positioned as the ultimate scholarship any aspiring chef could receive, the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is awarded annually to a chef working in Scotland, carrying on the legacy of Andrew Fairlie’s commitment to nurturing culinary talent in Scotland.

The finalists had to prove their worth in a skills test, and were challenged to create a dish with potato as its star ingredient while incorporating Scottish dairy. 

They had the further challenge of delivering an impressive surprise dish using hand-dived scallops. 

Darren Seggie impressed the judges with his creative potato-based dessert comprising butter gold potato pudding and espuma, sourdough crumble and ice cream and caramel sauce. 

While Rachel Bremner blew everyone away with her dish - potato and egg yolk ravioli, crispy potato skins and potato espuma.
The final skills test took place at Perth College UHI with the winners announced afterwards during a ceremony at Gleneagles. 

The judging panel included some of the country’s finest chefs, all of whom knew Andrew Fairlie well.

The panel was headed up by Stephen McLaughlin, Head Chef at 2 Michelin-starred Restaurant Andrew Fairlie; alongside fellow 2 Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains; 1 Michelin-star Head Chef at Cail Bruich and winner of Great British Menu, Lorna McNee; and Masterchef The Professionals winner and National Chef of Scotland, Gary Maclean. 

The winners will be taken on an incredible 2-day educational trip to France with Grande Cuisine, and gain hands-on experience at the 2-Michelin star Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, the 3-star Core by Clare Smyth in London, an international stage, as well as receiving a bespoke chef’s jacket from Goodfellows. 

These highly informative experiences will be taken over two years, allowing both talented scholars to develop their learnings over an extended period of time. 

The scholarships are offered in partnership with HIT Scotland, an industry charity with which Andrew Fairlie was closely connected. Now in its fourth year, the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is supported by HIT Scotland, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Perth College UHI and The Gleneagles Hotel. 

Stephen McLaughlin, lead judge and head chef at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, said: "Our five finalists have competed fiercely and fairly today and they have all given it everything to win this year’s Andrew Fairlie Scholarship. Everyone competed with great character and commitment and showed a real respect for one another this afternoon."

"The chefs should all be extremely proud of themselves for getting to the final but must also take great pride in how they handled the pressures of the day and in the fabulous dishes that they all produced. This was a tough one to find just one winner today as everyone cooked so well and all had showed great application in getting this far," he said.

Stephen added: "We had no choice but to award two deserving winners... This year’s winners not only submitted immaculate application packs but followed this through and showcased themselves clearly as the best on the day with clean, precise and creative cookery."

David Cochrane, HIT Scotland Chief Executive, added: “It was a true delight to see our group of finalists demonstrate a passion for cooking that Andrew Fairlie would be proud of. A huge congratulations goes to Darren and Rachel, who have demonstrated exceptional skill, creativity, and dedication to their craft. They have bright culinary futures ahead!"

Ype van der Schaaf, Sector Manager of Hospitality and Food Studies at Perth College UHI said: "Offering our kitchens and facilities to support HIT Scotland and being part of the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is very important to us, as he was our well-respected alumnus."

Ype added: "Hosting for the third time, we have really enjoyed watching the finalists create their fantastic dishes, they’re at the top of their game and their efforts demonstrate to our students the very top of industry standards. Huge congratulations to the two winners!"

The 2023 finalists were: 

• Daniel Robb, 27, Chef de Partie at Gleneagles 
• Rachel Bremner, 34, Commis Pastry Chef at the Balmoral 
• Darren Seggie, 35, Lecturer of Culinary Arts at City of Glasgow College 
• Spud Henderson, 34, Sous Chef at Craig Millar @ 16 West End 
• Rita Varga, 31, Chef de Partie and kitchen departmental trainer at Voco Grand Central Hotel.

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