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Michelin Star chef from Forres recognised with alumni award

By Ewan Malcolm

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LORNA McNee (34) has been chosen as the winner of the 2021 University of the Highlands and Islands' Alumni Award.

Lorna receives her award at Cail Bruich, Glasgow.
Lorna receives her award at Cail Bruich, Glasgow.

The high flying chef, originally from Forres, was selected for the award in recognition of her professional success.

That includes her Michelin Star status which she received just five months into her first head chef role at Cail Bruich, Glasgow. The award was Glasgow's first star in 18 years and gave Lorna the unique distinction of becoming the first female chef to have received the award in the city. She is also the first solo female chef in Scotland to be awarded a star in 20 years.

Lorna's award winning career started in 2008 when she graduated with a HNC in professional cookery from Moray College UHI. She credits much of her subsequent success to this education.

She said: "It's such an honour to have won the 2021 alumni award. The university gave me so much while I was studying there, which helped me grow into the person I am today and I'm delighted that my achievements have been recognised in this way.

"It's not that I disliked school, but I wasn't very academic. I was always much more hands on and college was perfect for that. I was given lots of encouragement, which I really hadn't had before. It meant a huge amount to me to be told by my lecturers that my knife skills were really good and that my bechamel sauce was well seasoned."

Little Sicily in Forres provided the modest platform for Lorna to discover her love for the hospitality industry. However, that was quickly followed by a placement with world renowned chef Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's Hotel in London which was made possible through financial support from university donors.

That experience led the university to create the student development fund which has since supported over 500 students develop their talent through donor gifts.

Lorna has also been named as Game Chef of the Year (2016), Scottish Chef of the Year (2017) and winner of the BBC's Great British Menu competition (2019).

Lorna was presented with a trophy by the university's principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Todd Walker, and head of development and alumni, Alison Wilson, at Lorna's restaurant in Glasgow.

Professor Todd Walker said: "It is a pleasure to present Lorna with this award. She is a very deserving winner and an excellent example of what our alumni can achieve. We hope her story will inspire our students and the 30,000 other members of our alumni community."

Moray College UHI principal, David Patterson, added: "We are immensely proud of Lorna and all she has received. We are grateful too for the commitment she has shown to the on-going work of the college to transform lives in Moray, including being Guest of Honour speaker at our college graduation and bringing the Master Chefs of Great Britain up to Moray to enthuse and inspire our hospitality students."

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