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The Hot Scots Power 40: Alan Hill, Gleneagles, Auchterarder

21 February 2013
The Hot Scots Power 40: Alan Hill, Gleneagles, Auchterarder

Ranking: 33

Alan Hill - Snapshot

Alan Hill is director of food and beverage at the 232-bedroom Gleneagles hotel in Auchterarder, Perthshire. His name may not be known in the wider world, but in the annals of Scottish hospitality he is a figure who commands great respect. During the more than 20 years he has worked at the famous hotel he has, in tandem with colleagues like hotel chairman Peter Lederer, overseen its transformation from mere hotel to the country's premier destination resort.

Alan Hill - Career guide

Alan Hill joined Gleneagles hotel in 1989 as its executive chef and in his long career at the hotel has also been its manager. He is currently the director of food and beverage. It was Hill who lured Scotland's premier chef, Andrew Fairlie, in 2001, to operate a stand-alone restaurant within the hotel (see Andrew Fairlie entry).

While Hill has been an integral part of the Gleneagles management team, the hotel has won more than 40 international hospitality and travel awards. And in 2010 it received the Sustainable Business of the Year accolade from Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards.

Under his watch, Gleneagles has streamlined and modernised its culinary structure, updating its flagship Strathearn restaurant and launching its successful spa café, Deseo. He has never been afraid to take controversial and difficult decisions: as early as 1996 he advocated the out-sourcing of food preparation and staff feeding at Gleneagles as a way of cutting down shifts in the kitchen brigade and reducing staff numbers.

Prior to joining Gleneagles, Hill was maitre chef des cuisines at the Savoy Grill in London for two-and-a half years (from 1986): before that he was executive chef at La Manga Club Resort, Spain; executive chef at the Caledonian hotel, Edinburgh, and executive sous chef at London's Dorchester hotel. However, his first steps in the food industry were as a butcher's assistant when he was a teenager in Scunthorpe, the town in which he was born in 1958.

Most recently, at Gleneagles, Hill has been a key member of the team that secured the staging of golf's 2014 Ryder Cup at the hotel. It is a highly prestigious event and a great coup for the hotel.

Alan Hill - What we think

If you cut Alan Hill in half, as per a stick of sweet rock, you'd probably find Gleneagles written at his core. But during his long career in the hospitality industry he has always been a passionate advocate of culinary awards and culinaires at major trade exhibitions, often judging on prestigious awards panels like the Cateys: and always supporting school children, students and young professionals in the industry by welcoming then into Gleneagles on chef stages and front-of-house work experience schemes.

In his capacity as director of food and beverage at Gleneagles, he encourages staff to enter competitions and to acquire industry qualifications like the Academy of Culinary Art's Annual Awards of Excellence scheme, and the Young Chef Young Waiter competition. And he works closely with industry body, Springboard Scotland to promote hospitality in schools and encourage young people into the restaurant and hotel trade.

He has long been involved in organising the salon culinary at ScotHot, the country's leading culinary trade show, and, indeed, is on the steering committee for ScotHot2013. Hill is also a fellow of the Academy of Culinary Arts, a former chairman of the ACA's Scottish branch and a committee member of the Scottish Culinary Academy. In addition he is a member of the Working Group ZeroWaste Scotland.

In 2012, he was part of a group comprising leading lights of the Scottish hospitality industry which climbed Kilimanjaro in Kenya for charity. The group raised more than £100,000 for Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland.

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