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HITing The Big Time: Introducing HIT Scotland’s Rising Hospitality Stars of 2018, in Partnership with

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HITing The Big Time: Introducing HIT Scotland’s Rising Hospitality Stars of 2018, in Partnership with

HITing The Big Time: Introducing HIT Scotland’s Rising Hospitality Stars of 2018, in Partnership with
July 18
08:22 2018

HIT Scotland’s Rising Stars of 2018

Incredibly, it’s 13 years since HIT Scotland held their inaugural Emerging Talent conference at Aviemore. That first event marked the start of a phenomenon that has since gathered pace, popularity and respect within the industry and is nowadays frequented by trainees, students, industry leaders and employees from the Scottish hospitality, catering and tourism sectors.

Scholarships range from placements in Michelin-starred kitchens and five-star hotels, both at home and abroad, to unique experiences at the Disney Institute, the École hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland and  as far afield as Dubai.

Continuing our partnership with, the UK’s leading hospitality jobs board, celebrates the 14th year of these incredible awards in 2018 with this introduction to the Top 10 rising hospitality stars in Scotland.

Listed alphabetically, each of the following individuals has been recognised for their achievements and willingness to learn from the best in the business and are themselves becoming role models for others. So here they are, the CS Top 10 Hospitality Stars of 2018….

Kirsty Bullen

Age: 23

Position: Restaurant Supervisor, The Chester Hotel, Aberdeen

HIT scholarship: The Liquid Academy’s Silver Award for The Modern Professional Cocktail Bartender

Your views about your experience: The scholarship was a great way to meet people from different backgrounds and learn new skills. It also provided me with the confidence to challenge myself with things I had never done before. We learned about the development of bar-tending and cocktail creation, as well as improving efficiency behind the bar and I used that knowledge to formulate a new cocktail menu for the Chester Hotel. Overall, the scholarship was a great experience and it has already helped me in my work; I was bar supervisor when I undertook it and I am now in the role of restaurant supervisor.

Future plans: To progress further in the hospitality sector. For a start, I will be applying for another HIT scholarship this year.

Ultimate ambition: To run my own restaurant specialising in wine and fine dining.

Laura Burdin

Age: 24

Position: Events Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Dundee

HIT scholarship: The Customer Experience scholarship

Your views about your experience: I wasn’t sure what to expect and what I would be doing. However, the scholarship was an amazing experience with brilliant people; everyone was so welcoming and we quickly got to know each other through an outdoor team building exercise. I was astonished that a group of people who had never met before were able to adapt and work quickly as a team to produce the right result. I found the scholarship so helpful to learn from others’ experiences and it has already made an impact on my professional life; For one thing I personally am far more open to working in teams.

Future plans: To develop my department and prioritise the guest experience.

Ultimate ambition: To travel the world and experience hospitality in different cultures to help me move up the management ladder.

Ross Cochrane

Age: 33

Position: Head chef at The Rothesay Rooms and The Carriage, Ballater

HIT scholarship: Bespoke Craft Scholarship at Hand and Flowers, London

Your views about your experience: I spent a week in the kitchen of the only two-Michelin-Star gastro pub in the country where I witnessed so many techniques, cultures, trends and different approaches. It was a fantastic opportunity and a thoroughly worthwhile experience.

Future plans: Having been promoted to group head chef last April, my focus for this year is to retain our Michelin Guide recommendation for the Rothesay Rooms and continue to develop new menus. The Carriage, which launches next month, will provide a less formal experience in a cafe/bistro style.

Ultimate ambition: To run my own restaurant in the Aberdeen area, serving fine Scottish food with an Italian influence in a relaxed environment.

Ross Coutts

Age: 28

Position: Digital Marketing Assistant, Argyll Holidays

HIT scholarship: Bespoke Digital Marketing and Brand scholarship with CitizenM Hotel, Schiphol, Amsterdam

Your views about your experience: In November last year I travelled to Amsterdam to meet with Michael Levie, founder of the CitizenM hotel chain and to work hands-on with their award-winning digital marketing team. I learned all about the purpose and values of CitizenM, as well as the creation and implementation of digital campaigns.

Future plans: I’m in the process of refreshing the Argyll Holidays Active Family campaign, which brings together local businesses and attractions in promoting tourism and offering exclusive discounts. I’m also penning a strategic social media plan as we look to embrace new techniques to increase Argyll Holidays’ online presence. Alongside this I’m working with some fantastic artists, local food and drink producers and various other organisations to establish events aimed at promoting Scottish culture and heritage.

Ultimate ambition: To establish a successful event and/or become a pivotal figure in the Scottish tourism sector.

Abigail Fell

Age: 25

Position: People Development Officer, The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

HIT scholarship: The Management 1st Scholarship at The APEX Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Your views about your experience: Aimed at supervisory and early year management levels, the programme really helped me to develop my confidence and knowledge, as well as offering an opportunity to put forward my opinions and ideas. The course organisers were all helpful and supportive, and the events themselves provided great networking opportunities.

Future plans: To complete a CIPD qualification and implement the ideas I have for the wider business.

Ultimate ambition: To become a senior HR manager within the hospitality sector. I would love to explore different avenues of the profession first, before specialising in a specific area such as learning and development.

Calum Gullen

Age: 19

Position: Apprentice in Hospitality Scotland, The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire

HIT scholarship: Apprentices London trip

Your views about your your experience: We visited different hospitality venues including Buckingham Palace and Somerset House where I was able to see behind the scenes and gain an understanding of how the different venues and events are run. It was very helpful to explore different venues like The Oval cricket ground and HMS Belfast, set up as they were for functions, and to witness how room layouts are suited to guest requirements. This provided me with new ideas for setting up rooms and helped me to better understand ways in which functions are managed in two completely different venues.

Future plans: To complete my apprenticeship and undertake courses to help build my CV and gain more experience within the industry.

Ultimate ambition: To manage and lead my own team in a hospitality environment.

Natalie Hunter

Age: 27

Position: Burr & Co Manager, Edinburgh

HIT scholarship: The Art of Leadership, École hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland

Your views about your experience: During the two-day course we learned about the differences between being a manager and a leader, and explored the different theories of leadership and the skills required for effective people management. The course was an excellent reminder of all the things I learned back when I started out in hospitality and it provided me with new ideas on how to develop my career. As leaders, we should centre everything we do around our ultimate vision and strive to inspire and motivate everyone around us.

Future plans: On returning from Lausanne I was awarded Manager of the Year and Inspiring Leader 2018 across all Principal and De Vere hotels. I would like to continue building on the success of Burr & Co within the Edinburgh coffee industry, including the introduction of charcuterie evenings, an ice cream stand and Taittinger champagne bar. Meanwhile, I will continue to focus on my police box coffee shop, Disposition Coffee, and introducing Nala, my miniature dachshund, to our customers.

Ultimate ambition: For now, I’m enjoying running both Burr & Disposition but I would eventually like to open multiple coffee shops with sufficient space for mindfulness and yoga classes.

Jamie Laing

Age: 21

Position: Guest Services Supervisor, The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire

HIT scholarship: Social media scholarship (in addition to a supervisor scholarship completed in 2017)

Your views about your experience: The social media scholarship provided me with an insight into a side of the business I rarely get to see. The previous supervisor scholarship helped me to push myself by using some of the techniques that I have learnt from the other scholars and can utilise in my own work.

Future plans: To progress into my first management position.

Ultimate ambition: To become general manager of a five-star resort before owning and running my own establishment. This would allow me to provide young, ambitious employees with the opportunities that have been provided for me.

Lauren McAvoy

Age: 24

Position: Pastry Chef De Partie, Principal Blythswood Square, Glasgow

HIT scholarship: Pastry scholarship, November 2017

Your views about your experience: I loved the fact I was able to interact with chefs of such a high calibre and with peers in an open-minded, creative environment.

Future plans: To complete the Cateran Yomp for ABF the soldiers charity and visit somewhere new every month this year.

Ultimate ambition: To travel the world while continuing as an ambassador for my trade.


Kareen Robertson

Age: 22

Position: Bartender, McPhabbs (run by Liquid Academy Group)

HIT scholarship: Diageo graduates 2017, Chester Hotel, Aberdeen

Your views about your experience: I wanted to learn more about the production of exciting drinks and I got the opportunity to meet Ben Irivani, owner and manager of Orchid Bar and Porters Gin. I learned that there is no sky in the hospitality industry and so there are no limits to what people can achieve. The scholarship also taught me that anything is possible and if you put your heart and soul into your career, it stops being work and starts being the whole reason to get up in the morning.

Future plans: To move into management while undergoing more industry training along the way.

Ultimate Ambition: To one day own my own bar and restaurant on the coast of Scotland.


With thanks and gratitude to for their support in producing this feature.

With more hospitality jobs than all other recruitment sites combined, and over 35,000 visits per month from Scottish jobseekers, is the preferred method of recruitment for hotels, restaurants, bars and contract catering.


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Catering Scotland

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