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Neil Thomson

CEO, Scottish Chefs

What was your favourite subject at school?

School  was not really a happy  experience for me but if I was pushed   I would say  History but  I was glad to leave at 15 years of age to  go to  catering college

What was your first job?

I worked on a dairy farm and then in the evenings delivered newspapers, ironically when I started my apprenticeship I had to take a wage cut 

What is your favourite Restaurant/Hotel?

In Scotland I don’t really have a favourite restaurant  or hotel as we have some fabulous establishments ,  but the most memorable  hotel stay was a weekend at Glenapp Castle  ,also  you cannot beat sunset at Turnberry Hotel

How do you inspire your team?

I have been  retired a few years now from formal employment   however when I was  working I always ensured that I never asked anybody to do anything that I was not prepared to do myself I have never been too  proud  to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in   also to be approachable and a good listener.

Which person in Hospitality have you most admired /inspired you?

I have been fortunate  throughout  my career to be inspired by  many people,    in recent years however  I had  the privilege of getting  to know Chef  Albert  Roux quite well and spent quite a bit of time in his company, he was an amazing  man and I could have listened to him  for hours  , he leaves a great legacy  and he is very much missed by all chefs in Scotland

How do you manage stress levels?

I play  as much  golf as I can at least twice a week in all weathers   ,  I hate the garden but it can therapeutic  since  Covid  I go  for  walks  every day  that I am not playing golf

Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and Why?

I am only on Facebook  and   have no desire to be active on the others  I never get involved in  any controversial  discussion as much as I  would like to challenge some of the rubbish  that appears

If you had not gone in to Hospitality, where do you think you would be now?

My  original plan was to join the Royal Navy  and take up a catering career in the services  but  my mother  put her foot down because at that time you had to  do  an initial  minimum 9 years   which she was not happy about , I got to  sea eventually when I was  a personal  chef  on a Luxury Yacht which  hard  work but a worthwhile experience

What did you do in your last days off?

Although I am retired  I have  never been so busy  ,Scottish Chefs  takes up quite a bit of my time  and to add to that I am on the Board of World Chefs   as the Continental Director  for North Europe ,  pre Covid this involved  a lot of travelling  , Board Meetings  can be anywhere in the World   eg  Cambodia is scheduled for the next meeting . At the moment however  we have meetings  on Zoom which have to be arranged around all the different time zones ,   every morning I spend time answering emails  from all over the globe or there could be Whats App  Conference  calls ,it can be hectic

What do you do to relax, support your well being?

As  I mentioned I like to play golf  , since I retired my wife and I started  cruising   and  try and do this twice a year , you cannot beat sitting on the balcony  of the ship  with a glass in your hand. Covid again  has curtailed  that  for the moment     but I still like  to sit at home with a glass of  wine or champagne  (  I would never drink prosecco  ).