WINNING a Michelin star is “a double-edged sword” according to one of Scotland’s leading chefs.

Tom Kitchin, who won a Michelin star for his Edinburgh restaurant The Kitchin within months of it opening in 2006, said such awards were important, but not “the be all and end all”.

“There’s no denying a Michelin star is important to chefs like myself, but if you win it you can lose it again and go back down the ladder,” he said.

His comments come when debate about the awards has been prompted by the continuing failure of Glasgow restaurants to win the prestigious awards for fine dining. However, Kitchin says it isn’t all about the haute cuisine. He more recently opened the gastropubs Scran and Scallie in Edinburgh and Gullane’s Bonnie Badger, both of which achieved Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award for good food at great prices.

“I think the most important thing is that we are very honest in what we do and give it everything we’ve got,” the Scot says. “The Scottish Restaurant scene is as strong as it has ever been and there are amazing restaurants in Glasgow and the West of Scotland. We are punching above our weight. We have the best larder in the world in Scotland, so it is really exciting but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Mr Kitchin was speaking as he gave his backing to the charity Mary’s Meals, for its Christmas appeal in support of its work feeding more than 1.5 million children every school day in some of the world’s poorest countries including Malawi, India and Haiti.

The charity is hosting a virtual Christmas dinner this month, selling table settings for an online table where donors can have a place setting added in their name for £13.90 – enough to give a child a meal a day for an entire school year. So far more than 3,500 have been sold since the start of the month.

The chef says he’s inspired by the charity’s ability to “think outside the box”, having worked with them for four years now. “People need something to grab their attention, and they certainly grabbed mine,” he said. “It is a very simple concept. The children get a meal and the knock -on effect is they also get an education.”

Mr Kitchin says he gets asked to support lots of charities but is drawn to those supporting children. Sadly even in Scotland, schools have been used to help families feed their kids, he says, with problems such as “holiday hunger” increasingly recognised, he points out.

“We have similar problems here in Scotland. It is brutal what happens to some kids in the holidays and Christmas really hits it all home.

“At this time of year, people are getting a new box from Amazon through the door every day – but this Mary’s Meals campaign really makes you think. Just £13.90 feeds a child every day. It’s fantastic.”

Daniel Adams, UK executive director of Mary’s Meals said: “Our virtual Christmas dinner brings together people from around the globe who believe that every child deserves an education and enough to eat.

“Thanks to the kindness of those who set a place, we can continue to reach children living in some of the world’s poorest countries with our life-changing school meal,” he added. “I can’t think of a better gift to give or receive this Christmas.”

While he’s conscious of child poverty at home in Scotland, Kitchin is also concerned about challenges such such as Brexit, he says, which have an impact on his supply chain and potentially his workforce. His five establishments now employ 266 people, which he says is a big responsibility he and his wife Michaela feel keenly.

“We are proud to be doing this in Scotland”, he said. “But we are worried about Brexit. Costs are spiralling out of control” he says. “I don’t want to use battery chickens or farmed fish, but everything goes up in price and the customer doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to pay more,” he explained.

Meanwhile he also fears challenges in recruiting if immigration policies change. “We have great Scottish and British people working for us but also a large number of Europeans, Africans and people from North and South America. Our business doesn’t work without those people.”

They will be the chefs of the future, he says, instilled with the philosophy behind his award-wining restaurants and his faith in Scotland’s charms.

“My philosophy is when tourists come, they are going to be blown away with the scenery and the history. But if they sleep well and eat well and drink well too that really helps. They’ll go back home and tell people ‘I went to Scotland and it was unbelievable’,” he said.