When the Michelin Guide published last year’s list of recommended restaurants, Stevie McLaughlin and Dale Dewsbury had perhaps the biggest reason to smile.
The tag-team of head chef and general manager of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at The Gleneagles Hotel, an hour’s drive north of Edinburgh in Scotland, had retained two Michelin stars – a fitting tribute to their friend and mentor, who had died just nine months earlier.
Fairlie won the first Roux scholarship in 1984 and gained a Michelin star while at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, before opening his eponymous restaurant at Gleneagles in 2001.
The following year he was awarded a star and in 2006 added a second, becoming the first and only chef in Scotland to do so, an honour he retained until his death in January at the age of 55.
“It’s all changed, but it’s all stayed the same,” explains Dewsbury. “Stevie and I have worked together for 18 years – the restaurant is a big part of both of us already.”
The key to the eatery’s continuing success has been continuity, with McLaughlin and Dewsbury heavily involved in its operations for more than a decade.
Fairlie was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2005 and underwent surgery, returning to work in time to cook a banquet for the G8 leaders when they met at the hotel.
The operation was a success, but the tumour returned and, after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Fairlie began to step back from day-to-day activities in 2017.
McLaughlin’s name appeared alongside Fairlie’s on the all-important questionnaire that follows the Michelin inspector’s visit since 2006, easing any concerns the guide may have had over continuity and stability.
On the corporate side, Kate, Fairlie’s wife, took over as the director, adding to the sense of business-as-usual.
McLaughlin is keen for the restaurant to evolve and develop, yet for its core essence and ethos to remain the same, with the ingredients guiding the cooking, and sticking to the mantra of Fairlie’s mentor, French legend Michel Guérard: “Simple food, brilliantly done”.
“The idea of Andrew seeing what we’re doing and not being happy makes my stomach churn,” McLaughlin adds.
“I want him to look down on us and say, ‘Guys, that’s fantastic’, even though some of it may not be things he would have done himself.
“One of the things that’s changed for me over the years is that I used to ask myself ‘What would Andrew do?’ but now I’m asking myself ‘What would Andrew think?’ – there’s a different edge to that now.”