A Moray chef who secured Glasgow its first Michelin star in 18 years has been recognised with a special award to celebrate her industry achievements.
Lorna McNee, who is head chef at Cail Bruich in the city, won the BBC’s Great British Menu competition in 2019 and was Scottish Chef of the Year in 2017.
Now the Forres native has been recognised by UHI for her accomplishments in the industry after becoming the first female chef to receive a Michelin star in Glasgow.
Path to the top for Lorna McNee
The 34-year-old took her first steps in the industry by washing dishes at the Little Sicily restaurant in Forres.
The job ignited her passion for cookery and she enrolled on a course at Moray College UHI to pursue her dream further.
While studying in Elgin, she was offered a place with Gordon Ramsay at the prestigious Claridge’s Hotel in London.
The opportunity was supported by UHI’s donors and has since inspired the creation of a specific university student development fund, which has now supported 500 students to take up industry opportunities.
UHI has now recognised Mrs McNee with its alumni award, which recognises the impact of a former student on business and public life, after she graduated with a HNC in professional cookery in 2008.
She said: “The university gave me so much while I was studying there, which helped me grow into the person I am today.
“It’s not that I disliked school, but I wasn’t very academic. I was always much more hands on and college was perfect for that. I was given lots of encouragement, which I really hadn’t had before.
“It meant a huge amount to me to be told by my lecturers that my knife skills were really good and that my bechamel sauce was well-seasoned.”
Chef uses success to inspire others
Mrs McNee previously worked as an apprentice at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie in Gleneagles before joining Cail Bruich as head chef in August last year.
She became the first female solo chef to be awarded a Michelin star in 20 years in January – just five months into her first head chef role.
Moray College UHI principal, David Patterson, added: “We are immensely proud of Lorna and all she has received.
“We are grateful too for the commitment she has shown to the ongoing work of the college to transform lives in Moray, including being guest of honour speaker at our college graduation and bringing the Master Chefs of Great Britain up to Moray to enthuse and inspire our hospitality students.”