Lesley Gillespie

Lesley Gillespie

Lesley Gillespie grew up in a family heavily immersed in the fishing industry and in an environment where food was fresh, seasonal and locally produced (often from the garden) and above all, home cooked.

These principles shaped Lesley’s outlook on food and influenced her decision to train as a professional chef. Having completed a three years course in Advanced Professional Cookery at NESCOL in Aberdeen, Lesley’s interest in seasonal local produce and skills in the kitchen won her the ‘Student of the Year’ and also the Scottish Student Chef Science on a Plate Competition. Her sustainable menu was showcased for the summer season at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and gave Lesley the opportunity to work in Scottish Chef of the Year Neil Forbes’ Cafe St Honore.  It was here that Lesley was introduced to Slow Food. She then won a Hit Scotland Scholarship which allowed her to further experience the merits of cooking with local seasonal ingredients at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage and at the Shoreditch Trust’s Waterhouse Restaurant.

Lesley remained at college as a Chef Lecturer. Here she taught students both practical cookery skills and food and beverage skills in the training restaurant as wells as teaching fine dining evening classes to the general public. She then moved on to manage the Garioch Community Kitchen, a community based food initiative in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. Here she taught a wide range of classes to both children and adults to help improve their cooking skills and encourage individuals, families and community groups to use healthy nutritious produce to enrich their diet.

With an interest in wild foods, and as part of her Masters Degree in Gastronomy at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University, Lesley focused her dissertation on the study of Scottish venison and after graduating, was employed to carry out research projects by the QMU Scottish Centre for Food Innovation.

As a freelance chef Lesley regularly provides cooking demonstrations for various Aberdeenshire Farmers’ Markets in which she showcases local market produce. In addition Lesley also promotes the Slow Food ethos at community kitchens, pop up events and private functions.

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