MasterChef: The Professionals winner Gary Maclean is Scotland’s first official National Chef, but he won’t be spending his time cooking up treats for celebs.
The Scot (and father of five) is remarkably down to earth and practical for someone who’s clearly able to produce a fabulous feat of gastronomy at UK level - and has plenty of ideas about how to pull off the perfect Christmas dinner.
In a message heartily promoted by Zero Waste Scotland he says the secret of success is down to organisation - he reckons December 25 is about “the kids playing with Lego on the living room floor”. not being a galley slave in the kitchen.
He says: “Planning ahead, not overcooking the turkey, getting portion sizes right and using a serving style that makes the post-dinner tidy-up incredibly easy”.
One ace tip is to use zip-style sandwich bags to freeze leftovers; another is to buy a turkey (if you’re buying turkey) that’s smaller than the size you initially thought you’d need - why be stuck with meat you don’t really want?
Another is to produce lots of small plates of accompaniments - almost like Spanish tapas - instead of great bowls packed with potatoes, sprouts etc, so that people can take the portion that suits them instead of heaping the plate full of food they won’t be able to manage.
He’s fully on-message with the new emphasis on eliminating food waste - which is actually as old as the hills.
Past generations never wasted food on the scale seen in today’s “throwaway society”, mainly because they couldn’t afford to, and Gary firmly believes that sort of thrift - and sometimes ingenuity - has to make a comeback.
Since he won the big title Gary has been cooking all over the country - most recently making haggis on Mull for the TV programme Landward - and is firmly in the premier league of Scottish celebrity chefs.
Inevitably he’s turned his thoughts to writing a book, since winning MasterChef, but it won’t be ready in time for a Christmas present this year - Gary Maclean’s Kitchen Essentials (from Black and White publishing) will be published in nice time for next year’s gift list.