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2014 Winner: Andrew Fairlie
After more than 30 years at the stove, Andrew Fairlie could be forgiven for turning his attention only to the customers who grace his two-Michelin-starred restaurant at the breathtaking Gleneagles resort in Auchterarder, Perthshire.
At the age of 50, some 30 years since he won the inaugural Roux Scholarship, he continues to be heavily involved with the prestigious culinary competition run by the Roux family, and to that end remains the only past winner to join the judging panel at the finals. In addition, six years ago, he started a scholarship for first-year students at Perth College, which sees the award of a £1,000 cash bursary to the winner as well as a two-week work placement at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie.
Working alongside his loyal head chef Stevie McLaughlin, who has been with him since 1995, and his long-standing restaurant manager Dales Dewsbury, his restaurant continues to wow with the finest service and cuisine, which is why Fairlie was the first and only chef in Scotland to become a Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef. He has unquestionably played a crucial role in putting Scottish food on the culinary map. In fact, few chefs
wave the flag for Scotland quite as fervently as Fairlie, not least with his support of the Yes Campaign for Scottish independence.
At the end of 2012, his 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 water, and the way he introduces exotic influences while never blindly following trends, makes his food exceptional."
The introduction of a Victorian walled garden, situated 10 miles from Gleneagles, will help to develop Fairlie's food further as he begins growing forgotten heritage varieties from the area.
Yet his unrelenting search for perfection is even more astonishing when one considers Fairlie's health in recent years. Such is his determination 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 and secured his second Michelin star in January 2006. With the tumour only partially removed, he continues to live with the condition, and yet his ability and drive remain absolute.
What the judges said "Andrew is a consistent ambassador for the industry who has gone about his craft for more than 30 years, constantly giving to the industry."
"He is the ultimate chef's chef. His knowledge of cuisine is unsurpassed. His dedication to running a fine-dining restaurant to the highest order is unquestionable and he is a massive inspiration to the new generation of chefs. What he does for Scotland and Great Britain is just incredible."
"Andrew is a chef's chef rather than a celeb, a great ambassador for our craft, and someone who has been at the top in Scotland for years. I am especially pleased to see somebody who has made a successful career in our trade taking the award."
Shortlisted Sat Bains, chef-proprietor, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
Tom Kerridge, chef-proprietor, The Hand & Flowers, Marlow
Andrew Fairlie, chef-proprietor, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Auchterarder
Nathan Outlaw, chef-proprietor, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Rock, Cornwall
The judges Jason Atherton, chef/director, Pollen Street Social
John Campbell, chef-proprietor, The Woodspeen
Elizabeth Carter, editor, The Good Food Guide
Anthony Demetre. chef-proprietor, Arbutus
Brett Graham. head chef/proprietor, The Ledbury
Angela Hartnett, chef-proprietor, Murano
Shaun Hill, chef-patron, The Walnut Tree
Simon Rogan, chef-proprietor, L'Enclume
Andrew Stembridge, managing director, Chewton Glen
Marcus Wareing, chef/restaurateur, Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley