Andrew Fairlie has become 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.
Fairlie, who runs his eponymous restaurant at Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire and is the only chef in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars, joins an elite group of just seven chefs to have been awarded the title in the UK. The others are: Alain Roux at the Waterside Inn; Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck; Michel Roux Jnr at Le Gavroche; Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park; Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons; and Martin Burge at Whatley Manor. Fairlie is only the third independent UK operator to have been named a Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef.
Fairlie told Caterer and Hotelkeeper he felt extremely honoured and proud. "Receiving my award in front of 500 Relais & Chateaux proprietors, including Michel Guérard, Michel Troisgros and Olivier Roellinger, was a very special moment," he said.
"Being accepted into Relais & Chateaux has been an ambition of mine for many years. I first heard of Relais & Chateaux in 1985 when I was working at the Waterside Inn just before I was due to start my scholarship with Michel Guérard. The guide was full of the greatest chefs in the world and as a 20-year-old I dreamt that one day I would be included."
Fairlie won the first Roux Scholarship in 1984, offering him the opportunity to train with Guérard 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 was almost unheard of.
He opened his restaurant within Gleneagles hotel in 2001 and achieved a Michelin star in 2002 as well as the Newcomer of the Year Catey. His second star followed in 2006 and he remains the only chef in Scotland with two stars. He was named Scottish Chef of the Year in 2008.
The 2012 Relais & Chateaux guide features 33 properties in the UK, including newcomers Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Greywalls Hotel and Isle of Eriska, all in Scotland.
By Kerstin Kühn
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