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Chef profile

Willie McCurrach

Willie is currently the Curriculum Head for Food at The City of Glasgow College and has been involved in Catering Education for 39 years.  He originally trained as a chef with British Transport Hotels and worked at both the North British Hotel (Balmoral) in Edinburgh and the world famous Gleneagles Hotel.  He passionately believes chefs require a sound foundation and understanding of food and empathy for their ingredients.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Aberdeen and started my catering career there as a student at Robert Gordons College.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I started cooking and baking when I was 10 years old.

What is your favourite food memory?

When I tasted home smoked Scottish Lobster at Restaurant Andrew Farlie.

What do you love the most about your career as Head for Food at The City of Glasgow College?

My career has spanned four decades and I still love seeing my own students developing successful careers in our industry.   Being given the opportunity to plan and deliver the world-class training facilities we now have at the new City of Glasgow College is a fantastic legacy for the future.

What is your proudest moment whilst at the College?

Being invited to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace; it was the first Hospitality Evening and 400 caterers were invited to attend the evening reception.

Who have you cooked for that you found most rewarding and/or most intimidating?

I had an opportunity to cook with the team when Nelson Mandela came to Glasgow.  He was such a lovely humble man.  My most intimidating moment was recently flipping pancakes with Prince Charles using a 3D printer.

What makes you proud to be Scottish?

Scotland is such an amazing country and you don’t have to travel very far to be out in breathtaking scenery with an incredible history.  We have beautiful cities with so much to see and do.

Choose three words to describe Scotland?

Salmon, Whisky and Berries.

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

Robbie Coltrane because he is a “Cracker”! 

What Scottish ingredients are you most passionate about and why?

Scottish fish and Shellfish and soft fresh berries.  Fish and Shellfish are so plentiful, amazing in quality, full of flavour and so easy to cook.  The Scottish fresh soft fruit season has such a small window but it is always worth waiting for.

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

As simple as possible, lightly poached or pan-fried.

Who in the industry inspires you most and why?

Michel Roux Jr.  He is so passionate about food but also a perfect gentleman.

What three ingredients can’t you live without?

Scottish langoustine, butter and Twix bars.

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

Simple foods.  Fresh fish and meats, family favourite “mince and tatties” with a mealie pudding cooked in it.

Are there any foods you just don’t like?

I don’t like honey but I really want to like it so I do keep trying to eat it.

Best piece of advice for a young person considering a culinary career?

Work hard, listen to your mentors and always be keen to learn.



Chef name:

Willie McCurrach

Title

Curriculum Head for Food, City of Glasgow College

Other achievements

Catey Award for Education and Training 2016
CIS Excellence Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Training 2014
PACE National Chairman’s Award for work in Scottish Education 2014

Training:

CGLI 147, 706/2, 706/3 Kitchen Larder, Patisserie and Advanced Patisserie, Fellow of Institute of Hospitality