Prestigious job at Michelin-star restaurant for budding Fife chef

Conor McLean, pictured third from left with his fellow Culinary Olympians, will soon be feeling the heat in the kitchen at The Cellar, Anstruther.
Conor McLean, pictured third from left with his fellow Culinary Olympians, will soon be feeling the heat in the kitchen at The Cellar, Anstruther.

Anstruther’s Michelin-starred restaurant The Cellar, brought back to life by a local chef, is shortly to be joined by another young up-and-coming culinary star from north east Fife.

The Cellar has been hitting the sweet-spot with foodies since Billy Boyter, who returned to his home town after earning an enviable reputation in some of the country’s top kitchens, re-opened the once much-loved restaurant in 2014.

Since then it has gone from strength to strength in the world of Scottish gastronomy, earing a Michelin star last year.

Now Billy (32) will be joined in the New Year by Conor McLean, who, at just 21, is already making his mark.

Conor, who lives in Springfield, first became interested in cooking as a young teenager at school when a teacher, having noticed he had a flair for it, encouraged him.

At just 15, he entered a Future Chef competition, a contest aimed at getting youngsters interested in the hospitality industry, and came second out of 8000 contestants.

He then entered Britain’s Best Dish contest and won, which, beyond his highest expectations, opened up the offer of an apprenticeship at the Savoy, London.

Just a few months after turning 16, he packed his bags and moved south.

Two years later he went for a trial at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, again he never for a minute expected to be successful.

But he was and for the next two years he was working 16 hour days in the two Michelin-star restaurant, fronted by chef Raymond Blanc.

“I was ecstatic but it was also terrifying and really tough,” he said. “They break you down and build you back up again.

“But, I learnt a lot and it was a brilliant experience.”

However, the call of home was strong, in particular the cries of new baby Rosie.

“My girlfriend, Jade Fitzwater, had our daughter and I decided to move back to Fife to be close to family,” he said.

In January he started at Macdonald Rusacks, St Andrews, and was also made a member of Scotland’s Culinary Team, which represents the country at events throughout the year.

He joined the team in Erfurt, Germany, for the 2016 World Culinary Olympics, which takes place every four years and is now regarded as the biggest, most traditional culinary exhibition and the Mecca for cooks and patissiers worldwide.

More than 2000 chefs from 59 nations prepared over 7000 fresh meals.

Conor was part of the Scottish team of 12 professionals who won silver in the hot kitchen and a diploma in the cold section.

“It was amazing to be part of the Culinary Olympics and come away with a silver medal,” Conor said.