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Chef profile

Hayley Mccook

Hayley has been studying at the City of Glasgow College while working in professional kitchens for the last three years.  She's had a busy year competing for the College; she won her first trophy against an American College, two gold medals and recently made it to the Toque d'Or finals.  Hayley is definitely a rising star to look out for on the Scottish cooking scene!

Where did you grow up?

Cumbernauld, just outside of Glasgow.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I’ve always had an interest in food.  I used to work in a call centre and one day decided I’d had enough.  I enrolled in college and got a job in a little Thai place in Glasgow.

What is your favourite food memory?

When I was younger my family and I would go camping a lot.  We used to go to Blairgowrie in the summer. One year we went strawberry picking, I’ve yet to taste a strawberry that was as good as the ones from that day.  

What makes you proud to be Scottish?

Everything makes me proud to be Scottish.  We have some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, some of the most amazing produce and the people here are so friendly and welcoming.

Chose three words to describe Scotland?

Diverse, beautiful, rainy.

If you were a Scottish movie character, who would you be and why?

I really struggled with this question, so I asked my mum.  She said I’d be Mérida, from the movie Brave, because I’m stubborn and ginger.  Can’t say I disagree with her.

What’s the best thing about studying at the City of Glasgow College?

The support we receive from the lecturers is incredible and I think it’s the most valuable thing I’ve taken from my time at college.  I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from my lecturers and they have really helped me develop my skills.

What is your proudest cooking moment?

I recently entered a competition where I had to cook a dish using sustainable fish.  I had my last run through a couple of days before the competition and my lecturers were discussing how rare gold medals were at this particular competition. I came back to the college after the competition with a gold medal and a huge grin.

What would your dream restaurant look like?

If I ever opened my own restaurant I’d want a little place on the coast serving fresh, local produce.

Are there any chefs you admire and why?

There are loads of chefs I admire such as Lisa Allen, Magnus Nilsson, Andrew Fairlie, Michael O’hare and Dan Barber.  However the chef I admire the most is one of my lecturers.  I’ve always had an interest in cooking but my interest turned into a slight obsession after listening to the way he spoke about food.  He really inspired me with his style of cooking and the kind of dishes he produces.  His passion for our industry is infectious and I don’t think I’d be half the chef I am now if I hadn’t had him as a teacher.

What Scottish ingredients are you most passionate about and why?

Scotland undoubtedly has some of the best produce in the world.  I’m most passionate about Scottish seafood, I don’t think enough people appreciate just how good it is.

What is your favourite method of preparing or serving Scottish Salmon?

I love hot Smoked Salmon.  Served with fresh bread, lemon and crème fraiche.

What three ingredients can’t you live without?

Butter, garlic and lemon.

What do you like to eat when you’re at home?

I always keep it pretty simple when I’m at home.  We built a little Tandoor oven in the back garden so I’ve been experimenting with that.

Are there any foods you just don’t like?

I try to avoid saying I dislike certain foods.  However I really struggle to eat kidneys or ox liver.

Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?

If you’re not successful on the first attempt keep trying.  Practice makes perfect.

What does ‘passion’ mean to you?

Passion to me is a thirst for knowledge and the constant need to be learning.  To be passionate about something you really have to care about it.  I think for chefs in the industry just now passion has to go beyond a love for cooking.  We have to be passionate about the produce we use whilst acknowledging the importance of sustainability.

Chef name:

Hayley Mccook


Final Year Student, City of Glasgow College

Other Achievements

ScotHot Sustainable Fish Dish 2017 Gold Medal