A young chef from South Queensferry has been announced as one of the winners of the inaugural Andrew Fairlie Scholarship.
Joseph Harte (23), a junior sous chef at Douneside House in Aboyne, along with Emma-Rose Milligan (23) from Kilmarnock, who is working as demi chef de partie at Chez Roux at Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, impressed the judges the most with their culinary skills.
The six finalists had to prove their worth in a two-part test, on October 24 at Gleneagles.
Speaking about the final, Joseph said: “It was pretty surreal. There was a big lead-up to the day. There was a lot of pressure so to win was pretty special.
“Initially we had to submit a menu based around a mid-summer’s day theme, which got us to the final.
“Then we had to cook two dishes. One demonstrated to us and the other was our own interpretation of an Andrew Fairlie classic.
“The demonstration was a mountain hare dish cooked on the saddle. Then the other dish was mushroom tarte.
“We only had two hours to do it and there was a lot to do in that time.
“There were obviously things that could have been a bit better and I could improve on, but I was pretty happy with what I produced.”
Joseph spoke of his “passion” for cooking and his pride at being able to do it for a living up north in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire.
He said: “I have been working up here for about two and a half years.
“I enjoy it. It’s brought me on massively from when I was in Edinburgh working for the catering company Heritage Portfolio.
“It has been great for me moving up here, it’s really pushed me on.
“Cooking is a passion of mine. The only think I have really enjoyed doing.
“Being able to take it on professionally is amazing, it just feels right.”
Joseph’s prize includes a week in the Gleneagles kitchens, two weeks in a top London restaurant and a trip to New York Culinary Institute.
He added: “Part of the prize is work experience in different kitchens. So I will be spending time in two Michelin star restaurants which will be an amazing experience.
“Winning this scholarship opens up a lot of different opportunities for me. I get to meet some very influential people in the industry. So I think this will be huge for me.”
Spearheaded by HIT Scotland and supported by the First Minister, Scottish Government and Gleneagles, the scholarship was launched in February 2019 in recognition of Mr Fairlie’s significant and lasting contribution to the hospitality industry.