The chef who made history as the youngest ever to have brought a Michelin Star to Scotland has spoken of an ‘exciting’ time for the industry, as a new generation of talent emerges.

Last year, at the age of just 25, Sam Yorke and his team at Heron in Edinburgh were one of two new restaurants north of the border to be awarded the coveted distinction.

It was a milestone moment for all involved, and yet, he claims retaining their star at this week’s Michelin Guide for Great Britain & Ireland ceremony was equally as rewarding.

The Herald: Pictured: Chef patron Sam Yorke at Heron in LeithPictured: Chef patron Sam Yorke at Heron in Leith (Image: Joshua Greenwood)

“It almost feels better this year than it did the first time around because it’s such a relief,” he told the Herald after finishing a morning prep shift at the Leith restaurant.

“The anticipation of waiting for the invite to the ceremony is the scary part.

“Once that arrives you can relax a bit even though you’re never 100% certain until it's officially announced.”

Originally from Rochdale in Manchester, Yorke trained at the Edinburgh New Town Cooking School and later worked under chef Dominic Jack of Castle Terrace, who he cites as his mentor.

The Herald: Pictured: Seabass bbq courgette and lobster tailPictured: Seabass bbq courgette and lobster tail (Image: Joshua Greenwood)

Opening Heron on Henderson Street in the same year he turned 21, an innovative approach to ‘celebrating the UK’s natural larder’ quickly made an impression and set him on track towards achieving one of the culinary world's highest honours.

“You’ll hear the odd chef playing it off and saying they’re not all that interested in getting a star,” he said, “but it’s always been a goal of mine”.

“Although it came a lot sooner than I had anticipated that’s because I’m surrounded by a really strong team who were all working towards it.

“There’s a great wealth of experience between us and that’s what got us there in the end."

Yorke, now 26, readily admits the star meant more than just an elevated status and “completely turned things around” when the business was struggling to stay afloat.

“I’m not sure that Heron would be here today if we hadn’t received a star, so it means a lot to us all.”

The Herald: Pictured: Edgar Lumsden Morris, pastry chef at HeronPictured: Edgar Lumsden Morris, pastry chef at Heron (Image: Joshua Greenwood)

Now also thriving under the welcome spotlight that a Michelin star brings is a talented team including restaurant manager and bar and beverage director Seoridh Fraser, pastry chef Edgar Lumsden-Morris and Kate Cummings as sous chef.

“It’s just the way things have fallen into place, but everyone in our kitchen is under the age of thirty.

“It is a young team and we’re lucky to have people working both from and back of house who are very passionate about what they do.”

The Herald: Pictured: The Michelin Guide praises Heron's bright, clean lookPictured: The Michelin Guide praises Heron's bright, clean look (Image: Joshua Greenwood)

The restaurant itself challenges perceptions of a traditional Michelin-level eatery, with large windows overlooking the water and wooden furnishings that create an air of Scandi-simplicity.

The chef patron continued: “There’s a far greater range of styles being recognised by Michelin these days.

“I’d say what we do is casual, but professional, and we try to avoid coming across as pretentious.

“People say Michelin you purely on your food, but I think the overall feeling of the place must have an impact on your experience.

“Everything from service to atmosphere contributes to that.”

Of course, Heron was not the only restaurant representing Scotland at this year’s Michelin Guide ceremony in Manchester, with 11 in total including Timberyard, The Peat Inn and Cail Bruich  retaining their stars.

While all had good reason to celebrate, the biggest news of the night was undoubtedly the announcement that Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at The Gleneagles Hotel was no longer the country’s only two-star restaurant.

“It was great to see the Glenturret Lalique being recognised with two stars," Yorke said.

“They’re the ones we had all been talking about this year and the favourites to do so.

“Again, I think that’s a real indication of the incredible range of influences and styles that are now being included in the guide.”

The Herald: Pictured: Valrhona chocolate malt and caramel dessertPictured: Valrhona chocolate malt and caramel dessert (Image: Joshua Greenwood)

Having achieved his first star at such a young age, how long will it be until Yorke and his team are also in the running for a second, we wonder?

“This is the year we’re going to really start pushing forward and investing some money into the business so that we can cement our star and, fingers crossed, maybe two somewhere down the line," he said.

“That would be amazing, but I’d say we’ve got  a way to go and some consolidation to do before then.

“The industry has changed so much in the past few years alone, never mind the last decade, so for now it’s just a really exciting time to be cooking, especially in Scotland.

“There’s some real forward thinking and a new generation of chefs coming through.

“It’s great to see the impact that’s having on the food that’s being produced.”

Heron is located at 87 to 91 Henderson Street, Leith, Edinburgh.

For more information visit their website here.