Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles – the only two Michelin-starred restaurant in Scotland – is to enter a new phase after it was revealed that its chef-founder has been forced to step away from the kitchen due to ill health.
Fairlie, 54, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2005, and has since undergone three years of chemotherapy and a course of radiotherapy, was told in July that intensive treatment or surgery were no longer possible after increased swelling around the tumour began to impact his mobility. He is now on steroid drugs, which have caused him to put on a stone and a half in weight due to an increased appetite, but is not in pain.
Alongside his declining health and concerns for his family, Fairlie said his biggest worry had been what would happen to the 32 staff at the restaurant which opened to great acclaim in 2001.
Following a meeting between Fairlie and Sharan Pasricha, founder and chief executive of Ennismore, the owner of the five-red-AA-star, 232-bedroom Gleneagles resort in Auchterarder, Perthshire, it has been confirmed that the restaurant would continue under its present name with the current three-year rolling contract extended to five years.
Fairlie’s long-term colleagues in the business – creative co-founder Gregor Mathieson; general manager Dale Dewsbury; and head chef Stevie McLaughlin – will take over the running of the restaurant.
“I can’t thank Sharan enough for his support in making this transition so much easier and ensuring that the restaurant will endure,” said Fairlie.
“It had got to the point that I would have to go public as my left arm is now useless and my left leg has become increasingly difficult to move. It was clear that it was no longer safe for me to be in the kitchen. However, I am still involved in the restaurant as a sounding board to Stevie – we speak most days.
“Sharan told me that the restaurant was integral to Gleneagles and did not want to let it go. I’m now so pleased that the guys have the opportunity to run this amazing business.”
Fairlie, who has a partner Kate, two daughters and two step daughters, said that he has had a long time to come to terms with his current situation.
“The difficulty has been in watching my parents, family and friends digest the news. It was hard telling the team and admit that I would never be able to work in a professional kitchen again.”
Fairlie was propelled into the public eye at the age of 20 when he became the inaugural winner of the Roux Scholarship in 1984 and went on to work under three-Michelin-starred chef Michel Guérard at Les Prés d’Eugénie in Gascony, France.
He has since gone on to more than live up to the potential that Michel and Albert Roux, founders of the scholarship, saw in the young chef. His career has included two seasons as chef de cuisine on the Royal Scotsman train, a spell at Hotel Disneyland in Paris where he set up the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant and ran the 360-cover California Grill, and the head chef role at what was then Ken McCulloch’s 27-bedroom townhouse hotel One Devonshire Gardens (now part of Hotel du Vin) in Glasgow.
After seven years at One Devonshire Gardens, which was awarded a Michelin star, Fairlie opened his eponymous restaurant at Gleneagles, committing £115,000 of his own money to the venture. He achieved his first Michelin star at Gleneagles in 2002, with his success winning him the Newcomer of the Year Catey in the same year.
Restaurant Andrew Fairlie received a second Michelin star in 2006, making it one of only 11 (at the time) restaurants in the UK to hold such an accolade. Other awards have included the HIT Scotland Industry Award, the Chefs’ Chef of the Year accolade at the AA awards, the Scottish Chef of the Year at the inaugural Scottish Restaurant Awards, and the Chef of the Year at the 2014 Cateys.
Fairlie is a passionate Scotsman who has played an integral role in putting Scottish food on the culinary map and became an ambassador for the Yes Campaign for Scotland to become an independent country in the 2014 referendum.