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Stephen McLaughlin

Head Chef at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie

  • What was your favourite subject at school?

My favorite subjects at school were History and English.

I found UK and world history very interesting and what I learned at school I still like to research further to deepen my knowledge and understanding of times gone by.

  • What was your first job?

Paperboy of course!

My first job in the culinary world was as a part time kitchen helper in a restaurant on Glasgow’s Clyde side called The Trading Post.

The theme of the restaurant was The Wild West, cowboys and Indians, etc…

Customers would order their steaks and cook them themselves on chargrills that were built into the tables.  I was responsible for keeping the Veg and Salad bar topped up.

I still to this day find it odd you would go to a restaurant and cook your own dinner!

  • Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?

Ondine in Edinburgh has always been a ‘go to’ for me to eat amazingly fresh Scottish seafood that is simply and brilliantly cooked.  I love Eusebi Deli in Glasgow’s West End for great coffee, brilliant pasta and of course for the Glasgow banter!!

As for hotels, Gleneagles is truly a world class and iconic venue that offers so much for so many different people.

Away from Scotland I love Hotel George V in Paris.  It has the buzz of the Champs-Elysees along with wonderful views of the Eiffel Tower.  The hotel also has incredible fresh floral displays throughout and its signature restaurant is home to some of the finest Haute gastronomie in France.

  • How do you inspire your team

I like to lead them by example and work with them through their daily tasks, talking and discussing as we go.

We talk a lot as a team and share our ideas collectively, making sure that as many of the ideas become reality.  This breeds positive and inspiring relationships.

  • Which person in hospitality have you most admired / inspired you?

Nico Ladenis, he was a 3 Michelin starred chef and at his peak he famously threw customers out of his restaurant for ordering well done beef.  It is not this part that I admired but the fact that he had an uncompromising and unwavering relentless commitment to achieving his goals of maintaining the highest standards of the attention to detail that it takes to run what was a brilliant restaurant.  As a young chef I was fortunate enough to spend some time working with him and his team at his restaurant on Park Lane in London.

I would say without doubt my friend and mentor Andrew Fairlie had given me everything that I will ever needed to go on to be a successful manager of some of this countries most exceptionally talented young chefs.

Andrew still inspires me to this day – I think he always will. The way that Andrew managed his business and how he managed the people within in it, including himself, will stay with me forever.  There are of course huge elements of Andrew instilled within my repertoire that I will pass on to the future generations of young Scottish chefs and Waiters.  I see it as my responsibility to make sure that Andrew Fairlie will continue to inspire and guide young chefs for many years to come.

  • How do you manage your stress levels?

I find that trying to pre-empt problems is a great way and a huge help to avoiding stressful situations.

Incorporating fun into your working day helps to balance stress.  If you are working with a smile, then nothing ever seems too bad.

  • Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – and why?

I like them all but don’t love any of them!

Social media used sensibly can be a very good platform to convey your message to massive audiences.

  • If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you
    think you would be now?

I’m pretty sure I would have been an international goalkeeper. Failing that a navigator on an aircraft carrier.

  • What did you do on your last days off?

I played golf with 3 of my best buddies during the day and in the evening took my son to football training.

  • What do you do to relax, to support your wellbeing?

I am a power walker! Every morning I am up early getting fresh air and exercise. At home we cook a lot as a family, then sit round the table sharing the meal and catching up.