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Lorna McNee

Chef Lorna McNee.
Chef Lorna McNee.

Lorna McNee

Lorna McNee is an award-winning Scottish chef crafting refined dishes in a relaxed setting at Cail Bruich in Glasgow. Having worked for many years with the late chef Andrew Fairlie she quickly won Cail Bruich a Michelin star after becoming its Head Chef in 2020 and is a Champion of Champions on the BBC’s Great British Menu.

The chef

Lorna McNee was born in Dallas, Scotland and went on to study Professional Cookery at Moray Collage. Having taken a job in a local Italian restaurant she was encouraged by her then head chef to take her career to the next level and went on to do a two-week stage at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at Claridge’s Hotel in London, following that up with work experience at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie in the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. 

Having decided not to leave Scotland she was eventually taken on in a kitchen apprenticeship role within Restaurant Andrew Fairlie where she spent 12 years, rising to the position of Sous Chef.  McNee soon became one of the best up and coming chefs in Scotland, winning Scottish Game Chef of the Year in 2016, Scottish Chef of the Year in 2017 and going on to become the Great British Menu’s Champion of Champions in 2019.

She took her first head chef role at longstanding Glasgow restaurant Cail Bruich in 2020. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star within five months of her arrival, the city’s first in 18 years.

The restaurant

At Cail Bruich (meaning ‘to eat well’ in Gaelic), in Glasgow’s West End, McNee cooks dishes with the finest seasonal British produce, with meticulous plating but an air of relaxed luxury. The restaurant offers several tasting menus, as well as a chef’s table experience with a view of the kitchen, “ideal if you want to get in on the action” says the Michelin Guide.

Interiors are soft and welcoming, with exposed brick, all adding to the relaxed feel. On the plate the food is elegantly arranged without being overly fussy, the kind of food you want to dive straight into but which also feels special. Cail Bruich regularly features in lists of the UK’s best restaurants and has been recognized by the likes of the Good Food Guide, making it an essential stop on any Glasgow or in fact Scottish food tour.

Cail Bruich offers Michelin-level food without the pomp, from an award-winning chef who is widely recognized as one of the finest chefs cooking in Scotland today.

Recipes and dishes

McNee strives to champion seasonal Scottish produce wherever possible, with an enviable larder on the restaurant’s relative doorstep. Her classical training underpins everything she does, whether rich, luxurious sauces, perfectly cooked proteins, or delicate pastry work, influenced by her years working with mentor Andrew Fairlie.

Depending on the season, particular highlights include a maitake mushroom tart with a soured maitake reduction and black truffle sauce, and red deer stuffed with bacon and foie gras with a potato emulsion and sauce grand venuer.

Utilising some of the world’s best seafood, lighter dishes include Orkney scallop with West Coast brown crab, tomato, strawberry, and elderflower. Desserts are prettily plated and Mediterranean-inspired with combinations like honey, lemon, lavender, and olive oil.

Her winning dish on the Great British Menu, which saw her Crowned Champion of Champions, was a Club Tropicana-inspired dessert called Lime And Sunshine, There's Enough for Everyone. It consisted of a coconut mousse, biscuit and lime parfait, an edible cocktail umbrella of dehydrated pink pineapple and chocolate, and a piña colada sorbet.