Scot Iain Jürgensen, 29, is executive chef at St Andrews Bay – and a happy man. He has a 15-minute journey to work and as many rounds of golf as he wants, usually on a Sunday.
Having started his hospitality career helping out at the family-run hotel in Fife, Jürgensen had a baptism of fire in London between June 1994 and May 1996, working in the kitchens of the Conrad hotel at Chelsea Harbour and then at Covent Garden restaurant Le Palais du Jardin.
“London is important for your career, and it certainly helped me get experience of working with a culturally diverse workforce. But the quality of life is better in Scotland. It’s nice here to have had the support I’ve required over the years, away from the cut-throat environment that is London.”
London, Jürgensen adds, has a great buzz and vitality about it, but for him it represented a means to an end.
Returning to Scotland in July 1996, he became chef de partie at the Sheraton Grand hotel in Edinburgh, which was a pivotal point in his career, as it represented his first senior role in a large company.
Returning home to help run the family business in November 1997, the young chef became head chef at Broons Bistro in St Andrews in the spring of 2000.
In 2001 he joined the newly opened St Andrews Bay as sous chef. Proving his ability and taking advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves, he worked his way up to his current position in just over three years.
“My advice is to gain as much experience as you can while you’re young. Then you can start channelling it into what exactly you wish to do.”
Jürgensen typically works a 60-hour week, and although he’s always in his whites, much of his role includes man management, overseeing some 40 chefs at the resort’s four restaurants and clubhouse. In September a new restaurant, the 60-seat Esperante, opened at the Bay. It has an average food spend of £40 and will compete for AA rosettes and Michelin stars.
When not keeping an eye on service, Jürgensen will be back of house negotiating with suppliers or out visiting local farmers to get fresh ingredients for the resort’s restaurants. The chef is attempting to get farmers to grow ingredients not indigenous to the area, such as courgettes, for use at the resort.
“London restaurants have to import most of their ingredients, while I’ve got some of the very best produce on my doorstep,” he says.
Chef de partie, Sheraton Grand hotel, Edinburgh
Head chef at Broons Bistro, St Andrews
Executive chef at St Andrews Bay
Published by: The Caterer