Of my many warm memories of Andrew Fairlie, one of the most enduring is when, with typical generosity, he allowed me into his beloved kitchen to shadow him during one of the busiest services of the year. It was Christmas time many years ago and he was on top form. From my vantage point, tucked well out of the way of his busy brigade and their steaming hot pots and pans, I remember being struck by his utter calm.

He stood at the Pass, head down, waiting for his section chefs to bring him the perfectly prepared components of each dish for him to assemble personally before calling – never shouting – “Service, please!”. As he waited quietly, I could just about discern him counting out the seconds in his head. Without turning round to watch what was going on in these final moments of world-class culinary creation, he simply knew who was doing what and when. Everything came together when it should. The rhythm and harmony of Fairlie’s kitchen – the beating heart of Scotland’s only two-Michelin starred restaurant within the Gleneagles Hotel – was palpable, and to witness Scotland’s most celebrated chef at the very top of his game was a privilege I’ll never forget. I am grateful to him for this and the many subsequent memorable experiences he allowed me to share. Remembering him sitting youthfully cross-legged atop the scrubbed wooden kitchen table of his Glasgow flat, grinning widely with his hair boyishly tousled, for a photographer just after he got his first Michelin star for One Devonshire Gardens in 1996, is particularly poignant.

It was Andrew’s quiet demeanour and waspish sense of humour that endeared him to so many, not only within the Scottish, UK and international hospitality industries, but also in the fields of art, design and, most recently, horticulture. He was a great collaborator and mentor, and he certainly had a huge personal impact on many journalists, myself included.

From my numerous accompanied visits to the Victorian walled kitchen garden in Perthshire he acquired in 2014 after an unsuccessful second course of chemotherapy, it was abundantly clear that he adored it and regarded it as his “salvation”, both professional and personal. He loved the quiet energy of the many specimens being cultivated by head gardener Jo Campbell exclusively for his restaurant. “It’s so different from the crazy energy of the kitchen,” he said. “The garden is a very calming influence and I am sure it has had a beneficial effect.” Despite the chemotherapy he never lost his sense of taste and the fresh produce had a galvanising effect on his menus, with dishes headlining the greenery in line with global culinary trends. He loved that diners would travel for miles to sample his take on the fruits of the Scottish terroir, and spent many happy hours with Jo and her team. When I got my allotment last August, I laughed out loud when he cautioned me wryly against letting it take up too much of my time. God knows I know now what he meant.

I like to think his humility, which endured even after joining the international culinary elite as one of only a handful of Grands Chefs du Monde, was down to his upbringing in a modest council house in Letham, Perth, and leaving school at 15 with no qualifications. More than once he told me that he felt he was very lucky in life. Marrying his beautiful, loving long-term partner Kate White last November was, he told me, the “icing on the cake”.

At the Michelin Star awards ceremony in London last October, he was using a walking stick with some difficulty but looked deliriously happy as, surrounded by Kate and his closest chef friends, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie retained its second star for the 14th consecutive year. He had words of encouragement for those Scots restaurant chefs who were left disappointed not to receive a star: “In the next couple of years Scotland will do really, really well,” he said.

The last time I saw him was when he invited me to his home just days before the wedding and some weeks after being discharged from the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow. Struggling under the long-term effects of chemo followed by steroids to help correct his balance, he told me that his brain tumour - first diagnosed in 2005 - had now entered the terminal stage. He wanted the world to know that though he was finally having to give up cooking, the Gleneagles Hotel had assured him that Restaurant Andrew Fairlie would continue with the same long-standing team under head chef Stevie McLaughlin, restaurant manager Dale Dewsbury and business manager Gregor Mathieson – whom he had worked with since the early days at One Devonshire Gardens. Over coffee at his home overlooking the Ochils, Andrew confided that he’d been so worried his staff may be laid off and his restaurant given over to a different chef that he’d had sleepless nights angsting about it. The relief at being immediately assured otherwise was, he said, “a huge weight off my shoulders”. Concern for others was an abiding characteristic, and engendered life-long loyalty.

For his 55th birthday he’d had plans to take his trusted tight-knit team to spend time with head chef Michel Guerard at Les Pres d’Eugenie, the three-Michelin starred restaurant in south-west France where Andrew had worked at age 20 as the prize for winning the very first Roux Scholarship in 1984. “That’s where it all began,” he’d said. “Returning will be the final piece of the jigsaw.” Though he’d subsequently had to cancel that long-cherished trip, he bore the disappointment with a philosophical acceptance. “I feel very peaceful,” were among his last words to me.

I cherish the notebook I used to record my most recent interviews with Andrew. He liked it because of the lobster design on the cover. I was pleased he’d noticed, as I’d bought it on purpose: Andrew’s signature dish was home-smoked Scottish lobster with warm lime and herb butter. I always meant to source a similar book for him, but could never find one as it had gone out of print. It’s now a small personal reminder that though Andrew himself is gone, his legacy will live on long into the future.

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