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The 19-year-old head chef at Brodick Bar and Brasserie Timur Jay Ünal, has been awarded first-place in NFU Mutual’s Inspirational Young Person Awards.
Another local, Wallace Currie, owner of Rural2Kitchen, received highly commended recognition.
The awards, which are in their third year, were launched by the commercial insurer in partnership with industry body Scotland Food and Drink, seeking to uncover inspirational examples of talented 16- to 26-year-olds who own, work or study in the food and drink sector. The award aims to highlight not only the enormous contribution that young people make to Scotland’s food and drink businesses, but also the importance of the sector to the wider economy.
Having originally intended to select a top three, the judges found the quality of this year’s applications too hard to separate, and ultimately decided to recognise 1st, 2nd and four highly commended winners. Timur will receive a trophy and a £500 cash prize in recognition of his first-place award, while Wallace will take home a trophy and £200 for his highly commended entry.
When he was 16, Timur came to work in the family business as a waiter for the summer. He showed amazing rapport with the diners and had an instinctive skill for waiting. He stayed and very quickly became head waiter, organising and training front of house staff, hosting and welcoming diners to the 100 covers restaurant.
After heading to Glasgow to train as a chef, Timur became head chef aged just 18, on the recommendation of the acting head chef. He now heads up the kitchen team of five chefs and several kitchen porters, and his responsibilities includes setting menus, costing, teaching kitchen staff how to prepare, cook and plate the dishes, as well as running the pass and cooking.
Described as imaginative, creative and passionate by his nominee, Timur is respected by the other chefs for running a calm kitchen which produces great food.
Wallace of Bridge Farm, Shiskine, is the mastermind behind Rural2Kitchen (R2K), an educational Facebook page sharing information around the process from field to fork. He has also launched and hosts a podcast, R2Kast, featuring different people from within the industry on each episode.
Wanting to show the whole process from farm to fork, Wallace kept sharing information: grass information, lambing data, recipes, polytunnel content – things he felt reflected the realities of farming. Noticing that people valued the content, Wallace developed podcast R2Kast, with nine episodes now live – available on Spotify, YouTube, Google Podcasts Apple Podcasts and many others – and a further eight upcoming in the series.
Having raised his profile in the industry, R2K also led to Wallace being offered his dream job as a Scottish Rural College lecturer in Agriculture at the Barony campus.
Timur said: ‘It was a lovely award to win. Hospitality during coronavirus has been almost impossible, but we have always strived to keep our high standards and aiming for rosettes and winning this award was fantastic not only for me but my family and the business.
Wallace added: ‘When I was originally contacted about the award I misunderstood and tried to think of people that deserved nominations, before I re-read the message and realised I was being nominated! Fast forward four months and finding out I have been highly commended in a world of phenomenally inspirational young people in this industry – I couldn’t be more elated.
‘I will probably spend the cash prize on a better mic, camera and intro video for my people in farming podcast, the R2Kast.’
Mark McBrearty, NFU Mutual regional manager: ‘Selecting a winner and two runners up from a record-breaking number of entries this year was too difficult, which is why we decided on an additional three awards. I am delighted to be congratulating Timur and Wallace! All of our award-winners have not only done themselves proud, but they are also wonderful ambassadors for our world-famous food and drink industry.
James Withers, chief executive at Scotland Food and Drink, said: ‘A particular congratulations goes to Timur who is an incredibly worthy winner of this award. To be given the role of head chef at such a young age is a tremendous example of his talent, dedication and hard work. I have no doubt he will go on to have a very successful career in the future.’