Acorns 2020: Andrew Mackay, 29
Head pastry chef, Gleneagles, Perthshire
Nominator Karen McIntosh
Andrew Mackay has built his career in luxury hotels, a setting that has pushed him beyond his comfort zone from the very beginning. As head pastry chef of Gleneagles, he manages a team of 22 pastry chefs and bakers, and is responsible for the pastry operation across six restaurants and bars, breakfast and room service for 232 bedrooms as well as 150,000 private dining covers a year in 10 event spaces.
Mackay is also a talented competition chef and has won many accolades, including Pastry Chef of the Year at the Scottish Food & Drink Awards in 2018 and Pastry Chef of the Year in the People of Excellence Scottish Hotel Awards in 2019. He is also a member of the Federation of Chefs Scotland culinary team and has represented his country in two international competitions – the 2016 IKA World Culinary Olympics in Germany and the 2018 Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, winning silver medals on both occasions.
As well as supporting his own team, Mackay has mentored interns from all over the world. He has also set up an internship programme that is currently mentoring one Maltese, one Danish and two Scottish interns.
Who is your hospitality hero?
I've always looked up to Paco Torreblanca, one of the world's most renowned pastry chefs, whose innovative approach to pastry has been way ahead of the rest of the industry for decades. His passion, humility and dedication to his profession are truly admirable. His creations have been a source of great inspiration to me, from a very early age. He's set the bar that all other pastry chefs like me want to follow. His pursuit is always to achieve the perfect balance of flavour and aesthetic beauty – it's like an art form. I don't read a word of Spanish, but I've studied both his books from cover to cover a hundred times, mesmerised by his work.