The Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland have announced the names of the six finalists in the search for the recipients of the second annual Andrew Fairlie Scholarship.

The aspiring chefs in the running for the ‘ultimate scholarship’ in the industry include Josh Wilkinson, 25, who is currently working as Senior Chef de Partie at the Isle of Eriska Hotel and Zdenka Tomova, 26, 1st Commis Chef at The Strathearn at Gleneagles Hotel.


Chef de Partie at The Torridon Amy Stephenson, 22, has likewise made the final, as has Spud Henderson, 31, Chef de Partie at Craig Millar @ 16 West End. 


There are also two returning finalists from last year’s competition – Ryan McCutcheon, 28, now Chef Patron at Achray House Hotel, and Peter Meechan, 24, Junior Sous Chef at The Strathearn at Gleneagles. 




Spearheaded by HIT Scotland and supported by the First Minister, Scottish Government and The Gleneagles Hotel, the scholarship was first launched in February 2019 in recognition of Andrew Fairlie’s significant and lasting contribution to the hospitality industry.  


The scholarship will recognise two outstanding individuals each year – one male and one female - who are forging ahead with their culinary careers and working in Scotland.  


Last year, the scholarships were awarded to Emma-Rose Milligan, 24, from Kilmarnock, and Joseph Harte, 24, from South Queensferry. 


Stephen McLaughlin, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie Head Chef and lead judge, said:  

“This has been an extraordinary year - a year like no other for us all!  It is a period of time when it could have been easy for many chefs to have lost focus and allowed self-discipline and their skills to have slipped - all of course understandably so. I am thrilled to have selected six chefs from our many applications for the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship Finals Day. Each have all shown in their applications a fine sense of drive and an unwavering commitment to themselves to develop, learn and rise to challenges in front of them.” 


“We have returning finalists from last year’s Scholarship who I hope and also do expect to have grown and learned from their experience. As well as this they will have been able to share their experience with aspiring and future applying chefs. This is of course part of the essence and privilege that comes with the importance of being part of the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship journey. 


“Being ‘match fit’ will be key for Finals Day. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing how our Finalists have been keeping their minds sharp and their knives keen during what has been odd and difficult times, when they perhaps wouldn’t have had as much time behind their stoves as they would have wished.” 


Previous winner Emma-Rose Milligan said:  

“It has been an amazing experience being involved with this scholarship. Having my culinary skills tested in front of some of the UK’s best chefs was nerve wracking, but a good learning experience for me, and I was so happy to win. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has meant Joe and I haven’t yet been able to travel to take part in our placements in London and abroad, but I had an amazing experience at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, it was fantastic to be part of the great team working in harmony to produce exceptional food, and I learned a lot. Good luck to this year’s finalists!” 


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: 

“The Scottish Government is again proud to be supporting this fantastic Scholarship in honour of Andrew Fairlie. In his life and career Andrew did so much excellent work to inspire the next generation of ambitious, talented chefs in Scotland. It is great to see so many young, up and coming chefs, aiming to benefit from the Scholarship. I would like to congratulate each of the finalists who have already done remarkably well and wish them all the best in the final stage of selection and beyond.” 


The final stage of the competition will take place at Gleneagles, where each of the finalists’ skills will be put to the ultimate test before the winners are announced. The Finals Day date has been postponed due to Covid-19, but will take place later in 2021 when it is safe to do so. 


The chosen winners will gain industry-wide recognition as Andrew Fairlie Scholars and experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities such as a practical stage in an international  kitchen, and at Michelin star restaurants. 


HIT Scotland

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