Willie Pike has run his own chef consultancy business since 2009. It provides a range of services, including: chefs training; menu compilation; new openings/relaunches; demonstrations; specialist courses; interactive masterclasses; and culinary competition training. He describes his cooking as a solid foundation of balanced taste and flavour with an innovative twist. Among his clients, he lists Sodexo UK; Buzzworks Group; Barry Callebaut; Loch Lomond Golf Club; Hospitality Aberdeen; Ulbster Arms Thurso; Highland Game; J F Hillebrand; Robot Coupe; DHL.
Willie Pike - Career guide
Willie Pike's cooking career kicked off in earnest as a commis chef at Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, in 1975. This was followed by stints at the Bath Hotel and Central Hotel in the city, before he made the move to chef de partie at Apsley hotel. By 1981, he was working as a sous chef at Gatsby's restaurant, where he was promoted to head chef.
Remaining in Glasgow, Pike spent nearly 10 years as chef lecturer and senior lecturer in food production and associated studies at Glasgow College of Food Technology. But, by 1994, he was back in the industry with the title of executive chef at Sodexho UK. He kept the title, moving to Lochgreen House hotel, Troon, in 2003, before setting up as a chef consultant in 2009.
Pike's talent and commitment has been acknowledged. He has a cache of culinary accolades and awards, including the best dish in Britain in 1997 and more than 60 gold medals as both an individual competitor and team player.
Among the awards that stand out are the 1998 Coveted Red Jacket from the Craft Guild of Chefs as the best competition chef in Britain; 2003 Fellowship of The Master Chefs of Great Britain; 2006 Catering in Scotland (C.I.S)Chef of the Year Award and 2007 Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Award.
In 2008, he was made an MBE by the Queen for his contribution to the hospitality industry.
Willie Pike - What we think
Willie Pike is an inspiration to young Scottish chefs. He set out to become the complete professional chef and has worked hard to gain technical cooking skills, while understanding the demands of every aspect of the hospitality industry - hotels, banqueting, fine dining, outside catering, pubs, brassieres, restaurants, contract catering, travel and in-flight provision.
He is a respected master craftsman and all-rounder, with specialist skills in pulled and blown sugar, patisserie and chocolate work. In 2009, he became Ambassador for chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut. He has cooked for many VIPs, including the royal family, but says his greatest challenge was cooking for 500 of his peers at the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chefs Awards (Culinary Oscars) 1997.
Keen to showcase Scottish culinary talent, Pike is a founder member of the Scottish Culinary Team and is an ambassador for Scotland and its culinary heritage, compiling dishes and menu's incorporating the best of seasonal Scottish produce.
He believes in sharing his skills and has featured at many food shows and exhibitions. His recipes have been reproduced in many trade journals and magazines and he was advisor and judge on ITVs Rosemary Shrager's School for Cooks Programme.
Significantly, Pike was also the founder of the Scottish Chefs Conference in 2006. It was created as a vehicle to motivate and excite young chefs, inspiring youngsters and rekindling interest in the more mature. It assists in keeping chefs abreast of cutting-edge equipment, technology and tableware, while providing a platform for chefs to expand their knowledge. Last year there were more than 700 delegates.
Looking ahead, Pike has pledged to continue to deliver culinary excellence while training and developing Scotland's future chefs.