A few weeks ago I was honoured to be invited along to The CIS Excellence Awards at the Hilton Glasgow. The showpiece event in Scotland's food and drink calendar is held to recognise and reward innovation and excellence in Scotland's catering & hospitality sector.
The black-tie event, hosted by Kaye Adams, was attended by those individuals or businesses who had gone above and beyond to deliver top level service and quality who were all hoping to take home the trophy for their nominated categories.
The night started with a champagne reception with canapés from the kitchen and an endless supply of Loch Fyne Oysters before all of the guests were ushered to the ballroom to be seated. During the award ceremony, we were served a wonderful meal prepared by the Hilton Glasgow's Executive Head Chef Derek Donaldson and his brigade.
In fact, the chef had to take a break from service in order to accept his own CIS Excellence Award as he was crowned the winner in the new Banqueting & Event Catering Chef category. However Derek didn't get the chance to celebrate properly as he had to get back downstairs to continue serving dinner.
I had previously had the chance to put my 5 Questions to Graham Gardner, one of the chefs who works under Derek Donaldson, so it only seemed right that I gave the top man the chance to have his story told.
How did you get started?
I managed to get a Youth Training Scheme placement when I left school at the Stakis Normandy Hotel. I received training in the various departments of the hotel including housekeeping, concierge and service front of house until I picked the kitchen as I enjoyed that the most. After the Stakis I worked at the Thistle Hotel as a commis chef for two years, then as a chef de partie when Hilton Glasgow opened in 1992.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give any young aspiring chefs?
Work hard, learn from good chefs, read cookery books, be respectful to others, help others, stay humble and enjoy your cooking!
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?
I think I would like to be setting up and running a couple of my own restaurants and guiding talented chefs within Scotland
If you could only cook one of your own recipes, what would it be & why?
I enjoy using and working with Scottish fish and shellfish especially hand dived scallops and langoustines. I love the smells obtained producing sauces to compliment them and the delicate cooking processes involved in producing fish dishes.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why?
It would have to be Sir Winston Churchill – I am interested in politics and I would love to chat about the many stories he would have had around the second world war!
Having worked at the the hotel since opening, although he did leave for a short spell at The Blytheswood Hotel in 2011 before returning to the Hilton Glasgow two years later, Derek is very much a part of the furniture, overseeing everything to do with food and drink to ensure that guests and visitors to Connich Bar, Morblas, and the Ti Tea lounge have a memorable time. So if you're looking for ideas for dinner in Glasgow, why not check out Hilton Glasgow? The five star hotel is located just off the M8 motorway at Charing Cross and only a ten minute walk from Glasgow's West End or George Square.
I'd like to thank Derek for taking the time out to answer 5 Questions and wish him all the best in the future. Keep up to date with Hilton Glasgow on Facebook and Twitter.