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O'Donnell becomes first Scots female chef in competition

Jacqueline O'Donnell, chef patron of The Sisters restaurant in Glasgow, has become the first Scots female chef and the first Glaswegian to compete in the next series of BBC2's The Great Brtish Menu in April.

success: Jacqueline O'Donnell in her The Sisters restaurant in Kelvingrove Street in Glasgow with Yvone Noon and Victoria Hagman. Picture: Martin Shields.
success: Jacqueline O'Donnell in her The Sisters restaurant in Kelvingrove Street in Glasgow with Yvone Noon and Victoria Hagman. Picture: Martin Shields.

In the ten-part cookery programme, in which teams of chefs from around the UK compete for the chance to cook a four-course banquet for a high-profile event, Ms O'Donnell will be part of a Scottish team alongside Stevie McLaughlin, head chef at restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, and Edinburgh-born Neil Rankin, of the Smokehouse in London's Islington.

Although details of the contest have not yet been revealed, Ms O'Donnell spent eight months researching her "old-fashioned" four-course menu by asking older Scots, including her 99-year-old aunt, what they ate in their youth and how they cooked it.

The 45-year-old mother-of-two, whose kitchen is staffed entirely by women, said the experience was a "massive step up" for her and she would now like to develop her role as ambassador for traditional Scottish dishes using locally grown natural ingredients, which she believes provide a healthier diet than that followed by many Scots today.

She said: "If everybody could understand how little our grandparents had and what they did with it, we'd appreciate there is a good argument for us going back to our culinary roots."

She also made a plea for more TV food programmes to be commissioned in Scotland and for the country's female chefs to be given more prominence.

Ms O'Donnell said: "I loved being on GBM but it's a pity we have to go to London for these programmes, rather than make them here in Scotland.

"More Scottish women are working in professional kitchens than before but we see far too little of them," she said.

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