The Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland has announced two outstanding chefs as recipients of this year’s prestigious Andrew Fairlie Scholarship.
The two talented chefs who most impressed the panel of expert industry judges are Amy Stephenson, aged 22, Junior Sous Chef at The Torridon, and Josh Wilkinson, aged 25, Senior Chef de Partie at the Isle of Eriska Hotel.
Positioned as the ultimate scholarship any aspiring chef could receive, the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship is awarded annually to one female and one male chef in light of Andrew’s unwavering commitment to diversity in the kitchen.
The finalists had to prove their worth in a skills test, where they had to recreate a classic Andrew Fairlie dish, and showcase their knowledge, individuality and creativity as a chef by choosing and producing two additional elements to complement this. This took place on November 16th at Perth College UHI, with the winners announcement taking place at Gleneagles.
Spearheaded by HIT Scotland and supported by the First Minister, Scottish Government, and Gleneagles, the scholarship was launched in February 2019 in recognition of Andrew Fairlie’s significant and lasting contribution to the hospitality industry.
The judges included Michelin star chefs Stephen McLaughlin, Head Chef at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Tom Kerridge, Sat Bains and Lorna McNee, and Scotland’s National Chef Gary Maclean.
Stephen McLaughlin, lead judge and head chef at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, said: “What a thrill it has been for us all to get back together for finals day of our second Andrew Fairlie Scholarship. It has been especially exciting this year to have been able do in it in our brand-new host venue, Perth College UHI, for the cook off.
“Full credit goes to all our finalists, who have maintained their match fitness in the run up to the final. We asked the finalists to cook a classic dish from Chef Andrew’s repertoire, while showcasing their own technical abilities in creating inspiring garnishes along with an intelligent, well thought out sauce.
“Every one of the finalists showed great desire and passion to become one of the next Andrew Fairlie Scholars, and many congratulations to Amy and Josh who came out on top and will now receive some inspirational and educational experiences to help build their careers.”
David Cochrane, HIT Scotland Chief Executive, added: “After the challenges of the last couple of years, it was truly inspiring to see this group of talented chefs in action, showing off their creativity, hard work and dedication to their craft. Huge congratulations to Amy and Josh, who will now get to experience some fantastic opportunities as Andrew Fairlie Scholars!”
Conor O’Leary, Managing Director of Gleneagles, said: “The flair, creativity and passion displayed by all the finalists echoes the culture of excellence that Andrew established and is testament to the extraordinary pool of culinary talent we have here in Scotland. We’re thrilled for the winning recipients and look forward to following their careers and supporting them as they develop as chefs.”
Ype van der Schaaf, Sector Manager of Hospitality and Food Studies at Perth College UHI said: “Hosting the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship final within our kitchens and facilities was a great opportunity to support HIT Scotland, and our students welcomed the chance to be involved. Many congratulations to the well-deserved winners, we enjoyed watching all of them work and create their fantastic dishes.”
The winners will gain industry-wide recognition as Andrew Fairlie Scholars and experience educational and inspirational opportunities, such as a practical stage in an international kitchen and at two Michelin star Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles and three Michelin star restaurant Core by Clare Smyth.
The first Andrew Fairlie Scholarships were awarded in 2019, with the competition having been postponed last year due to the pandemic. The inaugural winners were Emma-Rose Milligan and Joseph Harte.