An award-winning Aberdeen-based catering, events and hospitality company, is celebrating one of their chefs scooping the top accolade of ‘Scottish Chef of the Year 2023’ at the recent Scottish Culinary Championships held in Glasgow.

Craig Palmer, Head Chef at Wilde Thyme, which is part of the Entier family, staved off tough competition from across Scotland to take home what is classed as the ‘Olympic’ gold medal for Chefs in the industry.

After leaving school at the young age of 16, Palmer already knew he had a strong passion for cooking. To pursue his dreams of becoming the top chef he is today, Craig initially went to college at Glasgow Met, where he undertook an HNC in professional cookery. After graduation, Craig started his career working at No1 restaurant at the Balmoral in Edinburgh before taking a short career break which saw him move to Canada to pursue his lifelong hobby – skiing.

Craig worked as a ski instructor in, Banff Canada, for eight months before eventually moving to France to develop his culinary skills by working as a chef for a private chalet owner; giving Craig the best of both worlds- the ability to pursue his hobby of skiing combined with his love of cooking.

On his return to Scotland, he worked for a short period of time back at the Balmoral Hotel before he relocated with his parents ‘home’ to the granite city. It was whilst working in Aberdeen that Craig’s career went from strength to strength. After gaining more experience working in four/five-star hotels Craig joined local businessman and entrepreneur Peter Bruce at Entier where Craig gained exposure and experience working across all areas of the business.

It was when he joined Wilde Thyme (Entier’s high end events division), he was given the opportunity to flourish and hone his skills to become the award-winning talented chef he is today. Palmer said, “I still cannot believe that I have won Scottish Chef of the Year; it was such an incredible honour to be recognised and make it to the finals let alone win.” Craig continued “Over 200 hours of research, development and preparation went into creating the vision that was presented to the judges. I will be forever grateful to Peter and the wider Entier family for their belief in me and the investment they have made in helping me to develop my skills over the years. They have actively encouraged my creativity and have always provided support to push me outside my comfort zone to continually strive to exceed our client's expectations. When the judges announced I had won, I stood in disbelief for a few moments, but it made all my hard work over the years and leading up to the event all worthwhile.”

Craig blew the judges away with the meticulous detail and vision that went into creating each of his dishes. The chef rooted the very best of Scotland throughout each course and incorporated ingredients from the Scottish mountains to the coast. Underpinning each dish was the theme of sustainability, with Craig firmly focused on advocating and showcasing creative ways to make better use of locally sourced and iconic produce of Scotland.

Kevin MacGillivray – President of Scottish Chefs – Judge at the Scottish Culinary Championship said “Craig was the unanimous winner between all the judges, he was simply the best on the day and it was evident in every dish he created how much preparation he had done and he clearly demonstrated his sustainability theme across each course.”

When the local gamekeeper at Findrack Estate in Aberdeenshire heard about Craig’s vision he reached out and invited him to attend one of their game shoots; an invitation that Craig gladly accepted, as this gave him the opportunity to source the roe deer for his entrée dish himself. The local chef even went as far as to source salt water from Cove in Aberdeen to mix with dry ice to simulate the morning mist on his coastal themed amuse.

Peter Bruce, Founder and CEO of Entier said “I am immensely proud of Craig’s accomplishment – he is more than a Chef, he is a culinary artist. His creativity is some of the best I have seen and tasted in my career; you can literally taste his passion for food in each dish he creates. He takes his time to ensure it has the perfect mix of chemistry to stir a person’s five senses and I look forward to watching Craig continue to deliver an outstanding culinary experience to our Wilde Thyme clients, whilst nurturing and inspiring the next generation of talent in our business.”

Whilst Palmer scooped the top award, it was not the only award the chefs of Entier received. Also competing was 19-year-old chef apprentice, Ross Jamieson who was awarded a silver medal and best in class for the sustainable fish dish. Jamieson also gained recognition from the judges for his food hygiene and was awarded the Mirius Hygiene Award.

The awards which are normally held bi-annually last took place in 2019 due to the pandemic. Orry Shand, Executive Head Chef at Entier scooped the accolade in 2019 making this the second time in a row that an Entier chef has won the award.

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