Chef turns heat on yob protester

Howie's head chef Stephen Wallace
Howie's head chef Stephen Wallace
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LUNCHTIME at a city-centre restaurant was briefly interrupted while the chef gave chase to an anti-fascist protester, who had burst into the kitchen, then handed him over to police.

Howie’s Waterloo Place kitchen staff were in the midst of a busy lunchtime rush on Saturday when the protester entered through a side door and smashed the glass on a fire alarm.

While everyone around him stood aghast, head chef Stephen Wallace, 52, gave chase to the yob. Not content with this, the dad-of-three also apprehended the protester and held him until the police arrived before coolly returning to his kitchen and the lunchtime service.

More than 300 Unite Against Fascism protesters had gathered for a counter demonstration against the far right Scottish Defence League outside St Andrew’s House on Saturday, leaving the popular city restaurant slap bang in the middle of it all.

Mr Wallace said: “We were in the middle of our lunchtime rush with over 100 diners to feed when out of the corner I glimpsed the guy slipping in and smashing the fire alarm.

“I was doing some steaks at the time but I just dropped what I was doing and ran out after him. I can’t believe I actually caught up with him and, thankfully, the police were quick in coming to take him from me. I just walked back into the restaurant and carried on. The steaks were more medium to well done at this stage though. It’s keep calm and carry on in the catering trade.”

It is believed that the protester was attempting to create a distraction by setting the alarm off, drawing police away from between the two rival groups.

An extensive police operation was put in place around the event, involving officers from Lothian and Borders Police with support from British Transport Police, Strathclyde Police, Fife Constabulary, and Tayside Police.

A spokesman for Howie’s said of Mr Wallace’s have-a-go heroics: “We are so proud of him. So grateful to him. So angry that he put himself at personal risk without thinking and yet touched by his instinct to protect his team and kitchen that we want to thank him.

“Thank you, Stevie, star chef of Howie’s Waterloo, protecter of the kitchen. Protecter of the team.”

A police spokesman said: “A man was spoken to about his behaviour following this incident. However, officers on the scene decided against arresting the individual.”