Torridon chef wins prestigious hospitality industry Andrew Fairlie Scholarship
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A young chef from Wester Ross has been earmarked as a future star of the hospitality sector after being named one of two recipients of the prestigious Andrew Fairlie Scholarship from the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland.
Amy Stephenson (22), a junior sous chef at five-star Highland resort The Torridon, was picked by a panel including star chef Tom Kerridge as the female winner of this year's scholarship, which has been described as the ultimate scholarship any aspiring chef could receive.
In a double success for West Highland hotels, the male winner is 25-year old Josh Wilkinson, senior chef de partie at the Isle of Eriska Hotel near Oban.
The finalists had to prove their worth in a skills test, where they had to recreate a classic dish from Michelin star winning Gleneagles chef Andrew Fairlie, and showcase their knowledge, individuality and creativity as a chef by choosing and producing two additional elements to complement this.
The skills test at Perth College UHI was followed by the winners announcement at Gleneagles, the home of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars..
Spearheaded by HIT Scotland and supported by the First Minister, Scottish Government, and Gleneagles, the scholarship was launched in February 2019 shortly after Andrew Fairlie’s death from a brain tumour to acknowledge his 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.
Lead judge Stephen McLaughlin 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.
“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."
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.