Scotland’s national chef, Gary MacLean, combined forces with AyeWrite! this year and the result was a great event that discussed Gary’s life but also touched upon very important topics regarding our food culture and the way we view and practise healthy living.

Gary MacLean has been a chef for a few decades now and his journey started at school. In his own words, Gary shared that he was bad at every subject in school apart from Home Economics which sparked his love for cooking and food. ”Food has always been something I knew I would be good at”, Gary said, and he was definitely right. His talent blossomed very early and at the age of only 24 he took over the running of Glasgow Museums serving over 2000 people at his very first shift. Fast forward years ahead and we see him winning Master Chef in 2016. This success is due not only to his skill and talent but also to his competitive nature and eagerness to always improve and learn more. The talk, chaired by Theresa Talbot, also focused on his career as a college teacher in City of Glasgow College where he mentors students who aspire to cook for a living. His competitive side is present in college as well where he schools a culinary team that takes part in different local and international competitions with great success showing that Gary MacLean is both an excellent chef and a teacher.

As if that was not enough for one person he is also Scotland’s national chef, a title that is unique in the world. This role revolves around the promotion of healthy food in Scotland especially within the educational system. Gary emphasised the importance of food education within school. Subjects such as Home Economics can also be overlooked and for him that is a big mistake. Cooking is a life skills and it is vital that everyone that leaves school is able to cook nourishing meals. Healthy cooking should start at an early age and schools should promote it much more than they currently do. As a national chef Gary also showcases Scottish produce around the world. As a chef he travels all the time, cooking and competing, and this is his chance to manifest all the culinary wonders that Scotland has. His talk returned time and time again to cooking simple, healthy dishes by planning weekly menus that are varied and how this can be life changing. His belief in this is present in his new book Cooking Essentials that was recently published. In his book Gary offers readers a variety of recipes, including gluten-free, lactose intolerant and vegetarian meals. However, he also guides the reader as to the best kitchen equipment available on the market which is not often seen in a book. This way even a beginner will find herself/himself guided through a process that otherwise may seem intimidating.

The one hour event covered a lot from Gary’s roots and aspirations to Master Chef and how his life was changed after winning the show. The conversation was entertaining and emphasised important topics and it was a great way to spend an hour. For everyone out there who likes cooking or is thinking about learning a new skill Gary’s book is a good guide so it is worth checking out. And for those who like a good conversation revolving around food with plenty of useful information don’t miss Gary’s next events.

For more on Aye Write’s programme click here.