Tuesday, 5 July 2016

5 Questions - Neil Thomson, Chief Executive, Federation of Chefs Scotland

The Federation of Chefs Scotland was established in 1994 to be the voice of Scottish chefs across the globe. Since then, the Federation has played an important part in the Scottish food and drink industry as it promotes not only chefs but producers, restaurants, hotels, and suppliers to ensure that the best quality products, people and places are getting the support they need.
In addition to providing sponsorship, promotion and training, the Federation introduced the Culinary Excellence Awards back in 2004 at a gala dinner at Hilton Glasgow as a way of recognising the best of the best in Scotland. This became an annual event, renamed as the CIS Excellence Awards, and returned to Hilton Glasgow at the end of May. I was lucky enough to attend the recent awards ceremony when I was invited by Hilton Glasgow to be their Official Blogger and spent the evening keeping social media channels up to date as the awards were presented to the worthy winners.
There were a few surprises along the way, none more so than when a Special Award was presented to the current Chief Executive of the Federation of Chefs Scotland, Neil Thomson, as recognition for work that he does in his role of Chief Executive of the Federation
Away from his current role as Commercial Development Manager at Motherwell College, Neil devotes an incredible amount of his time, energy and expertise to keep the flag flying for Scottish Chefs throughout the world. He works tirelessly as the non-salaried Chief Executive of Federation representing Scottish Chefs at the World Association of Chefs Societies meetings enabling the Federation to keep up to date with the current thinking and developments of our fellow chefs across the globe.
CIS Excellence Awards, Hilton Glasgow, Neil Thomson, 5 Questions, Federation of Chefs ScotlandI managed to catch up with a slightly embarrassed Neil after he received his award and put my 5 Questions to him. Here's Neil's story;

How did you get started?

I actually started in the industry in 1965 at the Grand Hotel which was in Charing Cross Glasgow, however it was due to be demolished to make way for the new M8 motorway so I then was lucky enough to get an interview with the legendry Jean Maurice Cottet who was the Executive Chef at the Central Hotel Glasgow , British Transport Hotels (BTH) had the finest training anywhere in the UK and it was through them and the opportunities that working with Chef Cottet offered that my career really got started

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give to someone wanting a career in the hospitality industry?

Advice I would give to anyone considering a career in is this industry is it offers some amazing opportunities for anyone who is committed and wants to learn don't be afraid to set your sights high and if you get the opportunity to travel, take it!

Where would you like to see yourself and Scotland's food and drink industry in the next 5 years?

I don't have any real personal goals now however we formed the Federation of Chefs Scotland 22 years ago to be the voice of Scottish Chefs throughout the world and therefore would I hope in the next 5 years that we can continue to grow in strength playing our part in promoting Scottish Food be it through a successful Scottish Culinary Team or in chef development.

If you could only eat at one Scottish restaurant again, where would it be & why?

I would like to turn the clock back and dine again in the original Malmaison Restaurant at the Central Hotel Glasgow, it was one of the finest in the UK with true classical cooking we had 64 chefs in the kitchen. Every famous person who came to Glasgow, eg film stars etc. dined in the Mal and it was difficult just to get a table.

CIS Excellence Awards, Hilton Glasgow, Neil Thomson, 5 Questions, Federation of Chefs Scotland

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

Not an easy question as I can think of some people I certainly would not wish to dine with however I often wondered what it would be like to have the actor Tom Hanks for dinner he would keep the conversation going with all his funny stories . Last meal would have to be my mothers cooking as she was a fabulous cook and my first influence to take up this career.

CIS Excellence Awards, Hilton Glasgow, Neil Thomson, 5 Questions, Federation of Chefs Scotland

Neil explained to me that he doesn't do what he does to get recognition or accolades but to make sure that Scottish chefs are able to shine as some of the brightest stars in the world's greatest kitchens. I'm sure that anyone who has worked alongside Neil over his 45 plus years within the food and drink industry will agree that he has made a significant impact on the hospitality industry in Scotland.

I would like to thank Neil for taking time out to answer 5 Questions and wish himself and The Federation of Chefs Scotland all the best for the future. I would also like to thank the management team at Hilton Glasgow for inviting we along and I look forward to working with the team in the future.




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