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First Andrew Fairlie award won by Prince Charles’ country house

The first award for hospitality excellence created in honour of legendary Scottish chef Andrew Fairlie has been won by Dumfries House, the 18th Century Ayrshire country mansion and estate rescued and redeveloped by Prince Charles.

Fairlie, who died in January after a long battle with a brain tumour, was Scotland’s only double Michelin star holder for his eponymous hotel at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. The Catering Scotland Excellence (CIS) Awards, the country’s annual competition for the hospitality industry, set up the award in his memory this year.

It was presented by Fairlie’s widow Kate at a dinner attended by some 500 guests in Glasgow on Thursday 30 May.

Chair of the advisory board, Andrea Nicholas, said: “Andrew was unequivocal about using the word ‘excellence’ in the CIS Awards’ name and only accepting and judgingentries which lived up to the term. Dumfries House encapsulates all that. It has become a symbol of excellence in hospitality, hosting hundreds of events, as well as in education, training and restoration, and inspiring a new generation to enjoy hospitality and the outdoors.”

Prince Charles led a consortium of organisations and individuals which bought Dumfries House, set in 2,000 acres near Cumnock, together with its unrivalled collection of Chippendale furniture, for £45m back in 2007.

Fairlie, the inaugural winner of the Roux Scholarship in 1983 and described by this year’s judges as a “visionary genius”, was himself presented with the CIS Awards’ Lifetime Excellence Award in 2017. This year, the same award was made to Albert Roux senior OBE, KFO.

The Chef of the Year Award went to Fred Berkmiller, chef proprietor of the L’Escargot Bleu and L’Escargot Blanc restaurants in Edinburgh. Judges described him as “driven by excellence and tradition, and passionate about the provenance and sourcing of local and sustainable ingredients.”

Chef of the Year Fred Berkmiller (2nd left) with category sponsor Baxter Storey’s Tom McGuire and event comperes Des Clark and Jennifer Reoch

Restaurant of the Year was Stefano Pieraccini’s Seafood Ristorante overlooking St. Andrews Bay. The judges praised the “quality and delivery of a superbly cooked local menu” and said head chef Davey Aspin’s team “worked as one cohesive unit to deliver a true fine dining experience.”

Glenapp Castle at Ballantrae in South Ayrshire was named best Independent Hotel. Transformed from a Victorian ruin by the Stranraer-based McMillan family, the 17-bedroom Glenapp is now owned by London financier Paul Szkiler and is about to launch a safari boat service to take guests to the Hebridean islands. Group Hotel of the Year was won by the Glasgow Hilton.

Independent Hotel of the Year – Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae.
Matt Miller (2nd right) of sponsor Tetley Foodservice and Glenapp trio Jill Chalmers, Gillian Purdie and Siobhan Liddington

Other major prizes included those for establishments in the Hebrides, locations of the winners of last year’s Restaurant and Group Hotel of the Year.

Edinbane, the 16th Century lodge restaurant at the head of Loch Greshornish on Skye, won Restaurant Newcomer, while Young Chef of the Year went to Jordan Clark of the six-bedroom Pennygate Lodge near Craignure ferry pier on the Isle of Mull.

Lord of the Isles, at Craobh Haven on the Craignish peninsula between Oban and Lochgilphead, took the Pub Excellence Award.

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