In February, Andrew Fairlie’s iconic restaurant Gleneagles retains two Michelin stars for the 17th year in a row. However, his general manager Dale Dewsbury also received an additional prize, a Michelin guide award. We asked him about work in front of the house.
What was your career path like?
I grew up living in pubs in my hometown of York since my parents were innkeepers. I went to catering college and worked as a chef at a local restaurant. restaurants while studying. In the course of training, I was more drawn to the restaurant than to the kitchen. When I qualified, I worked as a waiter in a fine private country hotel. It was the eighties, and a country hotel was the place to find great food. I stayed in this environment for several years – Middlethorpe Hall in York, Horsted Place in East Sussex, and then Llangoyed Hall in the Brecon Beacons. Llangoed has played a pivotal role in my career. I worked for Sir Bernard Ashley (of Laura Ashley fame) and he challenged us to put Llangoed on the culinary map. Within three years, we achieved everything he asked us to do – win the AA Hotel of the Year award, the AA award for courtesy and care, but most importantly, won a Michelin star with Chef Ben Davis. I was a house butler, I worked very long hours, but it was worth it.
I then moved to the Michelin-starred Georgian Room, a Scottish restaurant, and then went to One Devonshire Gardens and met Andrew Fairlie. He asked me why I wanted to work there and I told him that I wanted to run a restaurant that could get two stars and that he was the only chef in Scotland that I thought could do it. Shortly thereafter, I ran the house for his first solo venture. It was in 2001 and defined my life.
Do you want to inspire others to take up hospitality?
I am too old and clumsy to be a model for the service industry, but if sincere and deeply felt approval inspires, I can give it. This is not an easy or soft job. It takes hard work and commitment. However, throughout my career I have seen improvements in working conditions, working hours and financial rewards.
How do you think people want to feel at Andrew Fairlie Restaurant?
Everyone has a different idea of what makes it great, but we make sure they eat the foods we love, the culinary style we believe in, and are served by passionate, professional staff. This is the starting point and we build on it. I see people who visited in 2001 and are still coming back in 2022.
How do you anticipate visitor needs?
Little things – the speed at which someone drinks, the pace of the dinner, what is the purpose of their visit? We note this and then adapt our service. This is the difference between a good restaurant and a great one. Many of our visitors choose to celebrate here. Similarly, dining here can be an event in itself for some people—precious time in the company of a special someone, so the lack of a visible celebration doesn’t diminish the quality of the experience we have to deliver. We cater for many holiday champagne as well as birthday cakesalthough even an unobtrusive “congratulations” can make a difference.
Losing Andrew was the biggest challenge I have ever had to face. I worked with him for 20 years and I had a lot of respect for him as a chef. During this time he became a friend. He was very generous in his trust and gave me great professional freedom and I prospered. We all miss him every day, but his passing has encouraged us. Despite the grief, we really focused on the restaurant. It’s a huge motivator – I’ve always been proud of what I do, but now it matters much more. I know how proud Andrew would be of this award – he would be more excited about it than I am. He will remind me to enjoy it and I try to remember to do it. He has always had a better opinion of me than I have of myself, and I can’t help but think that there will be a little “I told you so” in his eyes.
How to keep the memory of him?
He knew how to get the best out of me. He was the most talented chef I have ever known and his love for his craft was obvious and infectious. When he talked about food, wine or restaurants, he lit up, and I always wanted to listen to him. He gave me the opportunity to create a culture of service that complements his cooking.
It is not difficult for me to keep the memory of him, because every day something evokes it on a personal level. Professionally, I’m honored to work with Stephen McLaughlin (Stevie), our Chef, who is so closely associated with Andrew both culinarily and professionally that we always have “Andrew’s opinion” on most things what are we doing. do. Without falling into the trap of always looking back, Andrew is part of our future and having a restaurant that we are proud of and our customers love will strengthen his memory.
How did you deal with blocking?
Stevie and I met on walks and kept the restaurant in the spotlight even when we were locked in it. We’ve talked a lot about what it should look like when we can reopen, and a lot of that has come to fruition. When we re-opened, we immediately returned to our rhythm. I see it in myself and my colleagues: lockdown has reinforced what we love about our careers.