Bainsford-born Gleneagles Hotel cook crowned UK’s Young Chef of the Year
A Bainsford cook who worked his way up the industry to land a job with the five-star Gleneagles Hotel has been crowned the UK’s Young Chef of the Year.
Junior sous chef Peter Meechan, 24, was also presented with a Mercedes-Benz A-Class as a reward for being named Best Overall Young Chef in the UK, China and South East Asia in the Young Chef Young Waiter competition.
The contest, which seeks to find the best young chef and waiter the UK has to offer, saw Peter battle it out against hundreds of his culinary peers.
The former Macdonald Inchyra Hotel employee also had to perform in a live final and cook a three-course menu for a panel of judges.
Peter was joined on the winner’s podium by another young Gleneagles star, Hellie Honey, who came runner up in the UK’s Best Young Waiter of the Year category.
His rise to culinary stardom is all the more impressive by the fact Peter hadn’t considered a career in the industry until he left Falkirk High School aged 15.
He said: “It’s surreal, to be honest.
“It’s still not sunk in. The prize is pretty mental!
“I didn’t think about cooking until I was 15 when I was looking for jobs. An apprentice course came through from the council for the Employment and Training Unit at Macdonald Hotels.
“I started at The Inchyra as a commi chef. I did four years then went to Gleneagles. I’d learned everything I had to learn and saw a job at Gleneagles and sent my CV.
“Gleneagles is a totally different class. We can use any product we want and use the best of the best ingredients.
“I don’t have a particular special dish. You work your way up and spend a lot of time on all the sections.
“Now I’m taking control of the management side and helping out the head chef.”
As a boy, the ex-Bainsford Primary School pupil dreamt of becoming a footballer, but an inspiring school teacher and daily training sessions in the family kitchen sparked the start of his passion for cooking.
Peter continued: “I feel so lucky to get paid to do what I love.
“I wasn’t academic at school and hated sitting at a desk but I had a great home economics teacher who encouraged me to think seriously about a professional culinary career.
“I also grew up in a huge family – I’ve got six brothers and sisters – so we all had to get stuck in to help cook dinner every night. It was a great training ground – you might say I’ve been a chef my whole life.
“Our guests have the highest expectations which pushes me to deliver my very best on every shift.
“You’re continually refining your skills, developing as a professional, being pushed out of your comfort zone and learning every day. I’m like a sponge soaking it all up – I love it.”
The pressure and pace are Peter’s favourite aspects of being a chef.
He explained: “When it’s a Saturday night, and the restaurant’s fully booked, you know you’re a part of a team that’s working together to carry off a mammoth and seamless operation.
“There’s a buzz and adrenaline rush that comes with it that’s just incredible.”