Young Highlands-Based Chef Wins Aberdeen-Angus Scotch Beef Award

A nineteen-year-old Highlands-based chef has been selected as the overall winner of the Aberdeen-Angus Scotch Beef Award.

Hayley Bruce works at McBains Catering, a family run business based at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club which specialises in producing top quality catering using fresh local and seasonal produce.

Hayley was one of a trio of very talented and enthusiastic young chefs who made the final of the prestigious cooking competition run by the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

The other finalists were Calum Moncrieff of Sheraton Hotel, Edinburgh and Thomas MacNeill of Fife college. All three, with family and employer supporters, were guests at this week’s World Angus Forum Gala Dinner at the National Museum of Scotland where the delicious canapes they had devised as part of the competition were served.

Hayley now has the option of travelling to either Hong Kong or Sydney to experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip and opportunity to work with acclaimed Scottish chef Tristin Farmer. The other finalists will enjoy work experience at award-winning The Sisters restaurants in Glasgow’s Jordanhill and Kelvingrove.

Chef Jak O’Donnell, chef patron of The Sisters Restaurant, judged the youngsters’ skills along with Vanessa Dayley of Braehead Cook School. The judges were also joined by acclaimed TV chef and top food writer, Paul Gayler MBE.

The competition saw the students challenged to devise a main course dish featuring Aberdeen-Angus Scotch Beef PGI as the main ingredient.

"The standard of cooking was exceptional,” said Jak O’Donnell.  “A lot of thought had clearly gone into, not just the main course, but also the canapés which guests from all over the world at this week’s Angus Forum dinner clearly enjoyed.”

The culinary challenge for the chefs of the future was one of a series of UK and Ireland-wide activities to promote the 2017 World Angus Forum.

This international event, which finishes on Sunday, has seen hundreds of delegates congregate in Scotland as part of the full UK and Irish tour in June including visitors from as far afield as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico and Europe.

Alex Sanger, president of the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society said he was delighted with the enthusiasm shown by the young chef finalists. He also thanked the chefs who supported the competition and Scotbeef for supplying the beef.

“Our very best wishes go to the three youngsters who took part in our competition who, without doubt, have exciting careers in front of them. The main ingredient they worked with in the competition -  Aberdeen-Angus Scotch Beef – has earned a global reputation for quality and we have been delighted to see how enthusiastic the young chefs are about our top quality beef.”

Uel Morton, Chief Executive of QMS, added: “The knowledge and commitment shown by all three of these young chefs is incredibly inspiring, as is their commitment to careers which showcase the very best of Scottish produce.

“Their experiences as finalists of this award have offered a valuable opportunity to meet farmers and improve their understanding of what sets the Scotch Beef PGI brand apart – including the quality assurance and high standards of animal welfare which underpin the brand. Sincere thanks to Jak and Tristian for all their support with the award.”


Caption (L-R back row): Alex Sanger, president of the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society; finalist Calum Moncrieff, Chef Tristin Farmer; Uel Morton, Chief Executive of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS); finalist Thomas MacNeill. (L-R front row): Winner Hayley Bruce and Chef Jak O’Donnell.