Scotland's only two-Michelin-starred chef runs the 50-seat Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at the prestigious luxury hotel Gleneagles, which is set in 850-acres of Perthshire countryside. Among other accolades, last year, he topped the 2012 Sunday Times Food List, which ranks the best 100 restaurants in Britain.
Andrew Fairlie - Career guide
Aged 20, Andrew Fairlie won the first Roux Scholarship in 1984, offering him the opportunity to train with legendary chef Michel Guerard at Les Prés d'Eugénie in Gascony, during a period when the UK's food reputation on the world stage was poor and a foreigner working in a French kitchen almost unheard of.
Since then he has worked in Australia, Kenya, London, Ireland (as senior sous chef at Adare Manor in County Limerick) and France. In 1987 he held the position of chef de cuisine on the Royal Scotsman train, part of Orient-Express, for two seasons.
Just prior to joining One Devonshire Gardens in 1994, he was at Hotel Disneyland, Paris, where he set up the hotel's fine-dining restaurant before moving to the 360-cover California Grill, something Fairlie has credited for developing his organisational and management skills required to run a top-flight kitchen.
In 1994, Fairlie moved to Ken McCulloch's 27-bedroom townhouse hotel One Devonshire Gardens (now part of Hotel du Vin) in Glasgow to take on his first head chef role. McCulloch's faith was rewarded with a Michelin star.
In 2001 Fairlie left One Devonshire Gardens - where his star was the city's only one at the time - to open Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, committing £115,000 of his own money to the venture.
He achieved a Michelin star at Gleneagles in 2002 and also received the Newcomer of the Year Catey, placing his new endeavour on the map.
In 2005, Fairlie was literally placed centre front on the world stage when the G8 meeting of the world's most powerful leaders was held at the Scottish resort, where he oversaw the menu which generated significant media interest.
Gleneagles received a second Michelin star in 2006, making it one of only 11 (at the time) to hold such an accolade. Fairlie also picked up the prestigious HIT Scotland Industry Award. He was also named Chef's Chef of the Year at the AA awards and Scottish Chef of the Year at the inaugural Scottish Restaurant Awards.
In 2011 Fairlie became the latest addition in the UK to the ranks of Grand Chefs recognised by luxury hotel consortium Relais & Chateaux. The prestigious accolade is held by only a select number of 160 chefs around the world, including 70 independent operators, in recognition for leading the way through innovation and excellence.
Andrew Fairlie - What we think
Winning the inaugural Roux Scholarship 30 years ago presented Fairlie with a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, and it's fair to say that he seized that opportunity and put the hours in to rise to the very top of his game.
The only chef in Scotland currently to hold two Michelin stars, Fairlie runs a hugely successful business and in 2010 signed an unprecedented 10-year lease to continue running his restaurant at Gleneagles after previous contracts of three and five years.
At the end of last year, his eponymous restaurant was named the best in the UK by the Sunday Times Food List, which is based solely on customer feedback. Commenting on his ranking, editor Karen Robinson said: "Andrew Fairlie's insistence on using the finest ingredients, available from local Scottish hillsides and waters, and the way he introduces exotic influences while never blindly following trends, make his food exceptional."
Fairlie has worked tirelessly to succeed, setting an extremely high standard for any up-and-coming chef in Scotland (and the wider UK) to measure up to. These continued high standards are even more remarkable when one considers Fairlie's health. Such is the man's grit that a diagnosis in January 2005 of a brain tumour - after he sought medical advice, having suffered epileptic fits for the first time - resulted in an operation and, just months on, Fairlie returned to the kitchen, winning his second Michelin star in January 2006. He continues to suffer from the brain tumour but his ability and drive are undiminished.
He has won numerous awards, including the Newcomer Award at the 2002 Cateys, the HIT Scotland Industry Award, the Scottish Chef of the Year and the AA Chefs' Chef of the Year. He is also a Grand Chef du Monde, recognised by luxury hotel consortium Relais & ChÁ¢teaux, a title held by only 160 chefs (70 independent operators) in the world, including seven in the UK. Along with Claude Bosi, he went to New York last year and represented the UK at the Diner des Grands Chefs and was instrumental in bringing the spectacular event to London this spring.
Hugely committed to supporting Scottish producers, Fairlie has played an integral part in putting Scottish food on the culinary map. In addition to promoting top-quality Scottish produce at his own restaurant, he also recently starred in a Scottish Government campaign called "Scotland the Land of Food and Drink". There are few chefs who wave the flag for Scotland as much as Fairlie, who is the only hospitality operator to have been named an ambassador for the Yes Campaign for Scotland to become an independent country.
As a chef, Fairlie is devoted to the future of his industry and remains heavily involved in the Roux Scholarship, the prestigious culinary competition he won, aged 20, in 1984. Five years ago, he started a scholarship for first-year students at Perth College, which sees him award a £1,000 cash bursary to help with studies and offer a two-week work placement at his restaurant. He has also teamed up with contract caterer Host as a trainer and mentor to its team of head chefs (who visit his restaurant for three- to four-day training courses) and regularly welcomes young chefs on stages. Meanwhile, he sends each chef in his own brigade on a stage at a restaurant of their choice each year to keep them inspired and motivated.
Were Michelin to consider upgrading another UK restaurant to three-star status, the unwaveringly high standards at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie would surely put it in serious contention. But irrespective of any such accolade, Fairlie will continue to inspire young chefs across the land, not just in Scotland, demonstrating what hard work and natural talent can achieve.