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Andrew Fairlie – A minute on the clock

12 July 2005
Andrew Fairlie – A minute on the clock

The world's attention will be firmly focused on the Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire this week as it hosts the G8 summit. Eight of the most powerful leaders in the world could create history as they decide whether to answer Bob Geldof's global plea to end poverty. But what would you feed them? Emily Manson talks to chef-proprietor Andrew Fairlie in his Michelin-starred restaurant at Gleneagles

Caterer How does it feel to be cooking for the G8?
AF
If you can disregard the personalities, it should be easier than a normal night's service; but cooking in such a surreal environment is daunting - I imagine it'll be quite tense.
It'll be worse for the front-of-house team. It's all very well to be in the back cooking but to actually be serving in the room will be totally surreal.
Caterer How long have you been preparing for this?
AF The menus were approved three months ago - it's just two dinners. The Queen is hosting one, with the leaders and wives, and then there's the main summit dinner on Thursday, where there are three separate rooms - one for the leaders, one for their entourages and the other for the wives. Colin Bussey, Gleneagles's executive chef, has had the bulk of the brain ache. There's a media centre where 3,000 people alone will be catered for each day, so we've got it easy by comparison.
Caterer Have you had any interesting food restrictions or requests for the dinners?
AF The Queen never has garlic and likes meat cooked "well done", but otherwise, absolutely none, which makes me really nervous.
Caterer What are you cooking?
AF
I can't say, but it will be all Scottish produce and as local as possible.
Caterer What security measures have affected you?
AF All staff had a full police check but security has been put in place gradually over the past 18 months, so it's not been a huge shock. There's miles and miles of perimeter fence and nothing's allowed inside. Within the hotel there are various zones - we're in the red zone, which is the epicentre, and it's all quite exciting.
Caterer How are your suppliers going to deliver?
AF There's a central pick-up point in the village. All the suppliers have been given passes to get there, and that's where all the food will be checked in. Then it'll be sent up by the police to the hotel.
Caterer You have recently recovered from a brain tumour - how has that affected the way you have dealt with this event?
AF
I don't think I would have dealt with it any differently, except I've obviously had other things to keep me occupied - and certainly less time to think about the summit than I would have done otherwise.
I had two targets to recover by. The first was to go to Belarus with my family to watch Scotland play footie. I knew if I was ready for that then I'd be ready for the G8, and it was a focal point that I could aim for.

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