Celebrating Scottish School Foods

donald mcinnes

Former top restaurant chef is top of the class for Scotland’s school dinners

After 40 years running kitchens in leading hotels and restaurants Donald McInnes has gone back to school and captured a major award for creating “outstanding” children’s meals.

Donald is said to have transformed the meals service at Clydebank High School, abd has been crowned Scotland’s School Chef of the Year. The Award was presented at the Scottish School Food Awards in Edinburgh.

donald mcinnes
Credit Donald McInnes

Judges of the Awards commented: “In addition to ensuring the production of outstanding food for all pupils, his efforts have had a significant and positive impact on the broader culture at their school and others in the area.”

Under his guidance the school achieved the Food for Life Served Here Award, run by the Soil Association and funded by by the Scottish Government to help local authorities to source fresh, local and sustainable food for school meals.

Student Chef of the Year went to Amber Rissmann, 17, of Mearns Castle School inNewton Mearns. She has been mentored by Gary Townsend, Head Chef of One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow and is now working at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles,Perthshire.

This year Amber beat 7,000 other young people from across the UK to reach the final of the Future Chef competition organised by the Springboard charity.

Barrhead High School  in East Renfrewshire, which makes all its food on the premises, retained the Foodservice Team category it won in the Awards’ inaugural year in 2022. Its uptake of school meals is far higher than the national average.

One of its latest initiatives has been to offer a range of foods from around the world to encourage different culinary experiences. Pupils are also given tasting samplesof items being considered for future menus.

Judges were impressed with Barrhead’s work around seasonality, incorporatingfood trends, diversity and inclusion, and providing for pupils with special dietary re-quirements.

barrhead high school
Credit Barrhead High School Catering Team

Results of the Scottish School Food Awards 2023:

The Student Chef of the Year Award, sponsored by Chartwells Independent:

Winner: Amber Rissmann, Mearns Castle School, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

Highly Commended: Sarah Smart, Mackie Academy, Stonehaven

The Foodservice Team of the Year Award, sponsored by Thomas Franks Scotland:

Winner: Barrhead High School, East Renfrewshire

Highly Commended:

The Edinburgh Academy Junior School

St Leonard’s School, St Andrews


Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh

Strathallan School, Perthshire

The Hospitality Education Award, sponsored by Hub International and Inde-pendents by Sodexo:

Winner: Parkhill Secondary School, Cumbernauld Road, Glasgow


Highly Commended:

Eastbank Academy, Shettleston, Glasgow


Lochend Community School, Easterhouse, Glasgow

The Wellbeing in Education Award, sponsored by Litmus Partnership

Winner: Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh


Barrhead High School, Glasgow

Cargilfield Prep School, Edinburgh

George Watson’s College, Edinburgh

The Employee of the Year Award, sponsored by Pelican Procurement Ser-


Winner: Owen McLeod, Catering Manager, City of Edinburgh Council

Highly Commended:

Darren Tonge, Catering Manager of Thomas Franks Scotland at St Leonard’s

School, St Andrews


Dawn Meikle, Catering Assistant, George Watson’s College, Edinburgh

Karen Young, Senior Sous Chef, Chartwells Independent at The High School of Gllasgow

The Scottish School Chef of the Year Award, sponsored by Inspire Catering

Winner: Donald McInnes, Clydebank High School

Highly Commended:

Scott Ackroyd, Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh


David Barnett, Independents by Sodexo

Gordon Stewart, Craigclowan School, Perth

The Special Award, sponsored by Fonetti: Linda Richardson, Catering Manager at The Mary Erskine School, Edinburgh

The Lifetime Excellence Award, sponsored by Thomas Franks Scotland –

Jayne Jones




I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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