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Mark Donald **
  • Mark Donald **

    The unorthodox career path chosen by chef Mark Donald was neither traditional nor typical, but then again, neither is his cuisine.

     

    Mark’s original plan to pursue a career in the arts was successful. With a coveted interview at the renowned Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSAMD) in place, he washed dishes in a pub kitchen in Glasgow near his home for extra summer money before commencing his student life. The young teenager was intrigued by the kitchen and quickly moved to a local restaurant before deferring his studies. With his curiosity ignited, Mark found a different path to express his creative voice, resulting in permanently cancelling his place at the RSAMD. The practical training in the kitchen became his university.

     

    At 19 years of age, he headed to Australia, working in various hotels and restaurants from Cairns to Melbourne. The Aussie love of food, the fun and enjoyment of dining, and the discovery of new and delicious ingredients opened up a new world. He returned to Scotland determined, focused and committed to improving his craft.

     

    At age 20 in 2006, with no formal qualification or culinary education, Mark secured a position as CDP at Stravaigin in Glasgow, where he was introduced to the enormity of the Scottish larder. Two years later, determined to improve his technical skills, he moved to 2 Michelin- starred Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at the Gleneagles Hotel for the first of what would be two stints. Here, Mark learnt the craft of cooking under the tutelage and direction of Fairlie and his team.

     

    By now, he was all in and hungry for more. Taking a year to diversify his experience while maintaining the connection to location that was so prevalent in his training in Scotland, Mark staged at Noma Copenhagen with chef Rene Redzepi. But Scotland pulled him back, and in 2010 he returned to Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, where he stayed for two and half years achieving Junior Sous.

     

    While London was never a permanent destination for Mark, he was curious about the city's challenging and dynamic restaurant energy. He moved to Hibiscus, chef Claude Bosi’s award-winning 2 Michelin- starred Mayfair restaurant.It was a fortuitous move.

     

    Not only did he gain experience and knowledge, but Hibiscus is where he met Madelaine, his Australian wife, who was also working in the restaurant. After two and a half years in London, the couple moved to Sydney in 2015. With a wealth of experience and a solid CV, Mark became head chef of Bentleys for chef Brent Savage, a hugely popular 2 Hat restaurant in Sydney's CBD.

     

    But it was always about Scotland. For Mark, his cooking transcends knowledge alone; it is about a connection to his identity, his soul. So in 2018, The couple decided to make Scotland their permanent home, where they both gained positions in the landmark Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. As chef of Number One, Mark retained the restaurant's Michelin star from his arrival.

     

    2020 changed everything for everyone; like many, the Donalds reviewed their life. A need to be more connected, to leave the city behind, and for Mark to finally have the freedom to cook and discover his own style saw them head to the picturesque foothills of the Scottish Highlands.

     

    Located in the Perthshire village of Crieff is Scotland's oldest working whisky distillery, The Glenturret. The traditions, values and vision of The Glenturret Distillery resonated with Mark, as did their motto ‘By Hand and Heart, since 1763’. On the first of February 2021, Mark took over the kitchens of The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant. With full support and creative freedom, he had finally found his home.

     

    Mark Donald's cuisine threads together the story of a young boy from Glasgow who set out on a creative journey, took an unexpected detour spanning four continents before finding his way home. His menu speaks of his never-ending curiosity, love of exceptional produce, personality and innate humour, all unified and supported by award- winning technical expertise. There is a sense of place in his menu and heartfelt welcome.

     

    In March 2022, after only seven months from opening, Mark and his team at The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant were awarded a Michelin Star, a first for a Scottish distillery. In February 2024, the restaurant was awarded a coveted second Michelin star. The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant is only the second establishment in Scotland to receive such recognition.

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