Head Chef at Brodick Bar and Brasserie on the Isle of Arran, Timur Jay Ünal, has won NFU Mutual’s Inspirational Young Person Award.
The award, which is in its third year, was 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.
Alongside Timur, winners included: Sammy Jo Smith, 26-year-old General Operative at Aldomak (2nd place); Ellie Torrance, 24-year-old owner of Ell’s Kitchen (highly commended); Wallace Currie, 24-year-old owner of Rural2Kitchen (highly commended); Lewis Kennedy, 23-year-old managing director of Talonmore Drinks Company (highly commended); and Shane Price, 23-year-old Operations Manager at Entier (highly commended).
When he was 16, first place winner Timur went 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 active head chef. He now heads up the kitchen team of five chefs and several kitchen porters, with his responsibilities including menus, costing, teaching 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.
Timur will receive a trophy and £500 cash prize in recognition of his first-place award.
Timur Jay Ünal, this year’s first place winner 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.”
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, Sammy Jo, Lewis, Ellie, Wallace and Shane! All six have not only done themselves proud, but they are also wonderful ambassadors for our world-famous food and drink industry.
“I was particularly impressed by how each of them has not only coped, but thrived throughout the pandemic, a time when the industry has truly suffered. I feel confident that the sector is in safe hands if they are just some examples of the young people coming forward within the wonderful range of food and drink firms in Scotland.
“A huge congratulations to our fantastic winners and a big thank you to everyone involved!”
James Withers, Chief Executive at Scotland Food and Drink, said: “Scotland’s food and drink industry is full of talented youngsters who are going to be driving our sector forward in the coming years and all the finalists are a great example of the enormous contribution that young people make to Scotland’s food, drink and hospitality businesses.
“The field of entries was incredibly strong this year, from entrepreneurs starting up their own businesses to young people already making a huge difference inside big companies. It gives us huge optimism for the future of our sector.
“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.”