HIS career started waiting on tables as a 15-year-old. It taught him a thing or two about what the discerning diner wants from their meal.
Now, more than a decade on, one of the city’s rising culinary stars is to challenge to retain his title as Hotel Chef of the Year after winning his regional heat for the Scottish Hotel Awards.
Alan Dickson, 29, has gone from service to become head chef at No 10 Restaurant within Ten Hill Place Hotel, run by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in the heart of the capital’s Old Town.
Judged on more than one occasion by secret diners, Alan and his team will now face further mystery visits by judges ahead of the national finals.
He will hope to replicate last year’s success – where he overcame competition from experienced head chefs at some of Scotland’s most internationally renowned hotels.
Further adding to the potential of silverware this year, Alan and the team have also won the chance to represent the region in the Best Informal Fine Dining Restaurant category.
Alan, from Portobello, said: “The prospect of being judged by mystery diners is something that will always keep a chef on their toes.
“However, I’m absolutely thrilled to once again be able to represent Edinburgh and the Lothians and if we were to win the national award again – particularly given the level of competition on the shortlist – it would be an incredible achievement.
“The main thing for me however is that the team here has been recognised along some of the best hotel chefs in the country, if not the world.”
Alan joined Ten Hill Place four years ago and now heads a 14-strong team across the soon to be expanded hotel and college campus best known for its magnificent Playfair Building, dating back to 1832.
Alan prides himself on sourcing local produce and places huge importance on seasonality, something No10 Restaurant’s modern British menu reflects throughout the year.
Ten Hill Place Hotel is managed by RCSEd Commercial Enterprises, which is tasked with making the most of the institution’s impressive buildings, with all the profits being invested back into the College.
Launched in 2006, the commercial enterprises team promotes, sells and manages conferences, corporate events, weddings and other events and helped establish the college as a Festival Fringe venue.
Last August it hosted seven theatres frequented by 75,000 customers.
Alan added: “This is a great place to work, not only do all profits help raise standards around the world, but the team is really ambitious.
“As any chef would be, I can’t wait to get into the new larger restaurant following the expansion – which is now well underway.”