It was great fun, if a little hectic, to be in MasterChef: The Professionals winner Gary Maclean's kitchen at home, watching him cook a version of his winning dish. Unfazed by my presence and that of Herald Magazine photographer Kirsty Anderson, he said that compared to cooking all the meals at home for his five children and wife Sharon, while holding down a full-time job as Senior Chef Lecturer on City of Glasgow College's HND in Profesional Cookery, competing in MasterChef was "a breeze". Not only that but when I asked if he'd be up for the new role of Scotland's first National Chef, he said he'd love to be considered. Here's the news story published in The Herald (the main interview with Gary is too long for a blog spot so it is available tt read in the Published Work section of my website).
Masterchef Gary Maclean wants to become Scotland's National Chef
*Exclusive* January 14, 2017
Gary Maclean, the UK's newest MasterChef, has said he would like to be considered for the role of Scotland's first National Chef. The post, the first of its type in the world, was revealed exclusively by The Herald as a key pledge in the SNP Government’s manifesto last May and it is seeking to appoint someone within the current parliament.
If appointed Maclean, 45, a senior chef lecturer at the City of Glasgow College and a father of five, would act as ambassador, championing good food across Scotland and encouraging higher consumption of fresh local produce. The role chimes with the SNP’s pledge to introduce a Good Food Nation bill, a new £5 million fund to promote island and regional food and drink brands, a renewed drive to increase demand for the supply and demand of organic food in Scotland and to encourage local authorities to procure more Scottish produce.
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview published in The Herald Magazine today, Mr Maclean, who teaches on the college’s acclaimed HND Professional Cookery course and who notably promoted Scottish produce in every dish he cooked for the high-profile BBC Two cookery competition, said: “I’d love to be Scotland’s national chef. I’m passionate about Scottish produce and I don’t think there’s enough education about it generally.
“There’s a massive gap between what we grow and what we actually eat. We somehow have to bridge that gap. The general public don’t get how good our produce is. I ask my new students, which country produces the best salmon in the world? They never get the answer right. They say Spain, France, Norway, but never, ever Scotland.
“I think this lack of knowledge comes from the parents. We can blame the supermarkets, because they only sell what we want to buy. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
At City of Glasgow College Mr Maclean teaches student chefs the essential skills of butchering, bakery and fishmongery, as well as how to run a professional kitchen. He has taught many of the best chefs working across the UK, including Herald Magazine columnist Graeme Cheevers of the Michelin-starred Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond and Calum Montgomery of the Michelin-starred Kinloch Lodge on Skye. The upmarket chocolatier William Curley of Harrods is also a former student.
But he added: “Too many mid-range restaurants buy in food pre-prepared, which means chefs are losing their skills.
And he said that cheap meal deals undermine the value of restaurant food. “Customers need to understand the work that goes in to putting food on the plate.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We are currently consdiering options to deliver the commitment ot appoint a National Chef in consultation with stakeholders.”