Former Gordon Ramsay scholar Alex Thain has died. The chef, who enjoyed a career spanning some of Scotland's top culinary destinations, including Cameron House, Andy Murray's Cromlix hotel and Crossbasket Castle, was 37.
Thain started his career as an apprentice chef in a hotel near his home town in Fochabers, with stints at Kinnaird Country House and the Carnoustie hotels, before spending three years working at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow under head chef Andrew Fairlie in the 1990s.
In 2002 he took up a post at Gordon Ramsay's Amaryllis restaurant, which opened on the site of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at One Devonshire Gardens that year, before joining Étain in Glasgow as a sous chef. Two years later, he was headhunted by the owner of Cosmo restaurant in Edinburgh, Keith Murray (son of Glasgow Rangers FC chairman David Murray), to bring a new direction to the business.
Five days after joining Cosmo, Thain enjoyed the highlight of his career when he was crowned a Gordon Ramsay Scholar at the age of 25.
Then followed head chef roles at the Cameron Grill at Cameron House, Loch Lomond; the Popinjay hotel in South Lanarkshire; the Butchershop Bar & Grill in Glasgow; and sous and head pastry chef positions at the Cromlix hotel in Perthshire.
He joined Big Bite Catering as head chef in June from his role as head chef at Crossbasket Castle.
David Simak, head pastry chef at Crossbasket Castle, said: "Scotland lost another great chef. Alex was a perfectionist and very passionate about food. His presence and drive was a huge impact not only on experienced cooks but more importantly on new generation of commis and apprentices. He always had time for others before he had time for himself. His talent just started to touch the stars and without any doubt he always will be with us on the passé. We lost talented chef, fantastic teacher and more importantly a phenomenal friend."
Alan Boslem, director of Big Bite Catering, said: "In the short time I worked with Alex he proved to be a very capable chef with flair in all areas of the kitchen. What impressed me more about Alex was his ability to encourage the younger members of the team, his good manners and undoubted love for family life."
Paul Whitecross, head chef at Trump International Golf Links Scotland, said: "I am very saddened by Alex's death. He first worked for me when we opened the Carnoustie hotel in 1999 for the golf Open Championship, then a teenager. He was a dedicated enthusiastic young lad; you could tell by his loyalty and talent he was destined for a great career ahead. Years later I was never so proud when he was a deserved winner of the Gordon Ramsay Scholar competition. He will sadly be missed as a friend and chef in this culinary world."
Thain leaves behind his wife Claire and four children.
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