Meet Scotland’s youngest head chef at just 16

Andrew Duff dreams of being the youngest person to be awarded a Michelin star for his cuisine. Picture: Hemedia
Andrew Duff dreams of being the youngest person to be awarded a Michelin star for his cuisine. Picture: Hemedia
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TEENAGE boys have a reputation for lying in bed until midday and spending a bit too much time on their PlayStations.

But one ambitious cooking prodigy from the Capital is turning that stereotype on its head, and is giving the doubters food for thought.

While many chefs take decades to refine their culinary skills, Andrew Duff has become Scotland’s youngest head chef at just 16.

Andrew, of Waterfront Park, has wowed diners since taking over at an Edinburgh gastropub Mackenzie’s Bar in early April.

Ultimately, he wants to own his own restaurant and become the youngest person to be awarded a Michelin star.

He is now juggling a college course and his job at the pub.

Andrew said: “It’s hard but I’m going to have to get used to it because those are the sort of hours I am going to have to do for the rest of my working life. I’m going to have to get used to split shifts. College is just learning so that is actually more of a break for me.

“Most people get put off after the first few months, especially at the top. But I’m loving it. It’s getting better and better.

“I will probably stay here until I finish college. It is really fast-paced because in pubs people expect their food to come quickly.”

The former Royal High School pupil did a one-month trial at the bar in August.

When the head chef left last month, Andrew’s dad suggested to the owners that they take him on.

It is certainly not a decision that they have regretted.

Pub manager Karen Haston said: “He is so laid back. One weekend we had 158 customers through the doors and he never blinked.”

Andrew began a cookery course at Edinburgh College’s Granton Road campus in January. Many of his college friends have told him how lucky he is and have asked him to teach them how to do it.

But Andrew insists that hard work rather than luck is the secret to his success.

“You just have to stick in at what you are doing. Start from the bottom, even if that means washing dishes. If you show that you are confident that is what managers look for.”

Andrew had tried football, karate, boxing and rugby, but they failed to hold his interest because there was always an key ingredient missing.

It was not until he hit the ripe old age of 12 that he discovered his passion while cooking for his family.

Despite his college course and pub work, Andrew still finds time for a girlfriend, and on their first date three years ago he impressed her with his chow mein.

“She loves my cooking” he added.

Andrew’s signature dish

EVERY chef should have his signature dish and Andrew’s is chicken korma with a spicy twist.

He sweats an onion, tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a pan before adding water and simmering.

He then adds Madras powder and cayenne pepper followed by a pinch of coriander to give the dish a “nice colour and flavour”.

The next step is to thicken the sauce with double cream.

Andrew cooks the chicken in white wine before adding it to the sauce. Coriander, ginger, cumin and nutmeg should be sprinkled on the rice as it is fried for five minutes.

The rice is then boiled for a further 10 minutes, and the finished dish served with chips and poppadoms.