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Gary’s got an appetite for Scottish produce

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It looks as if Gary MacLean may have a rival in the kitchen: his three year old son Harry.

“He’s obsessed with food and has lots of pretend cooking items and a wooden kitchen,” laughs Gary, who shot to fame last year when he won MasterChef: The Professionals.

Gary reveals that winning the show was life-changing.

“I’ve always been a massive fan of the show and when my kids kept asking why I wasn’t in it, I decided to give it a go. When I discovered I’d won it was surreal – it didn’t really sink in until I saw it on TV!”

It was a dream come true for the Glasgow chef who has loved cooking since he was a lad. His culinary career started at a hotel in the Trossachs and since then he’s worked for some of Scotland’s top establishments including Glasgow Museums.

Eventually he decided to go solo by becoming a restaurant “fixer.”

“Basically I’d advise establishments about profit, loss, menu ranking, design and so on,” he explains.

But an innate desire to share his passion for cooking got the better of him and in 2010 he took up full time teaching and is currently a chef lecturer at City of Glasgow College.

So how do his students feel about having a masterchef in their midst?

“They followed my journey on TV and were really pleased for me,” smiles Gary modestly, before continuing in a more serious vein. “Teaching is a massive responsibility but I love being able to help so many people on the career path to becoming chefs.”

But just because he’s a masterchef doesn’t mean his family – wife Sharon and their five children – sit down to fancy meals every day.

“I cook fresh food but it’s not complicated. I know it’s nice to see masterchef-style food on a plate but I tailor my cooking and my public demos to food the public can purchase, relate to and make at home,” he continues.

“I have nothing to promote – I don’t own a restaurant or anything. I just want to demystify cooking and teach people techniques to take home with them.”

Gary will be appearing at the Taste Angus Festival at Glamis Castle on August 19 and 20 and can’t wait to showcase some of the wonders of Scotland’s larder.

“The festival is one of the biggies in the food calendar and there’s line-up of really good chefs,” he enthuses. “Everyone knows that Scottish produce is the best but we want to tell people why that is. Our excellent shellfish, for example, comes down to geography: the West Coast has the perfect conditions for it to thrive with clean seas and sheltered sea lochs.

“Our beef is a result of lots of sun and rain resulting in great grass, and the long daylight hours mean our sweet fruit has been world renowned for centuries.”

Truly passionate about all fresh produce he admits to one exception: “I really don’t like Brussels sprouts and I’m not alone. I spent half my life as a young commis chef throwing them in the bin,” he recalls.

His MasterChef status means he spends much of his time travelling and the last few months have seen him visit Singapore and the US, where he had a pop-up restaurant in New York. And, as well as typically undertaking at least five demos in England and Scotland each week, he’s also joined the team of BBC’s Landward.

A busy man then but of course any spare time is spent with the family or indulging in a spot of cycling on one of his favourite routes in the Loch Lomond area. But he admits that finding the right balance between work and home life can be tough for any chef. The secret, he says, is to invest in the future when you’re young.

“Work hard at college and make sure you get a qualification because the world is getting smaller all the time and you won’t get a job abroad if you’re not qualified,” he advises.

“While you’re studying get a job in the best restaurant possible and don’t chase the money – the best places will pay less but the experience will be invaluable.”

Try three of Gary’s recipes

Salsiccia Sausage, Pea and Parsley Risotto

Serves 1


50g butter

1 shallot finely diced

1 clove garlic finely minced

1 Italian sausage (raw)

60g arborio rice

50ml white wine

350ml chicken stock


50g frozen peas

1 bunch Italian/flat parsley

25g block of parmesan


Heat a pan and add ½ of the butter then add shallot and garlic and sweat for 3-4 minutes.

Add sausage and cook for 2 minutes. Add rice and toast for 1 minute, then pour in wine and reduce until the wine has totally evaporated.

Start to add stock a ladle at a time making sure the previous stock has been fully absorbed. Continue until rice is cooked.

Check seasoning, add peas and parsley. Top with grated parmesan and the rest of the butter.

Fresh homemade pasta with langoustine and scallops, spinach and pesto

Serves 2


200g pasta “00” flour

1 tsp olive oil

2 eggs beaten

½ teaspoon cold water

5 langoustine

3 king scallops

20g butter

1pkt baby spinach

40g block parmesan cheese

Jar of pesto


In a food processor place flour and start machine. Add the oil to the beaten eggs. Whilst machine is running add ½ of the egg mixture to form a light sandy texture.

Now add remaining egg and as much of the water as you need until a loose rough dough starts to form.

At this point turn off machine take mix out and begin to need on your work surface, using as little flour as possible. Once you have a smooth dough wrap tightly in cling film and allow pasta to rest.

Cut into four sections, roll each section into a very thin flat strip, roll up and cut into small, thin strips.

Sauté the langoustine and scallops in the butter until almost cooked, add the baby spinach until wilted. Then add the pesto and cooked pasta.

Apple tarte tatin

Serves 4-6


50g caster sugar

50g unsalted butter, softened

4 apples, peeled, cut in half length ways and cored (Cox and Braeburn work best)

1 circle puff pastry – 1cm wider than the pan


Sprinkle the sugar on the bottom of a heavy based, oven proof frying pan and dot the softened butter on top of the sugar.

Place the apples on top with the rounded side down into the butter and the sugar.

Start the caramelisation process over a medium-high heat. As the caramel starts to colour and darken reduce the heat with every shade until the finishing shade of a golden light mahogany is achieved, approx 12-15, and remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Still using the oven proof frying pan, once the apples and caramel have cooled, place the puff pastry on top and tuck the edges around and under the apples meeting the pastry underneath.

Cook the tart in the oven at 220°C for about 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 200°C and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for at least 20 minutes. Do not turn out immediately.

After 20 minutes gently reheat the tart until it loosens.