Young Argyll chef wins Andrew Fairlie scholarship

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An ‘outstanding chef’ from Argyll’s Isle of Eriska Hotel has been chosen for this year’s prestigious Andrew Fairlie Scholarship, set up in memory of the Gleneagles Hotel’s famous Perth-born chef, who died of cancer in 2019.

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.

Josh Wilkinson, a 25-year-old senior chef de partie at the Isle of Eriska Hotel near Benderloch, impressed the panel of expert judgesn.

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 said: ‘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.’

Spearheaded by the Hospitality Industry Trust (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.

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.’