Greg Wallace described choosing the winner for this year's MasterChef: The Professionals as the ‘toughest judging decision’ he can remember, but last night's final saw Scott beat off competition from fellow finalists Brian McLeish and Sven-Hanson Britt to become the eighth champion of the BBC 2 show.
The 26-year old said it felt “absolutely amazing” to win the show and gain the approval of judges Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing.
“It is hard to explain how it feels to win. It has really got my confidence up and made me believe in myself, and the whole experience has opened my eyes to new ways of cooking,” he told BigHospitality.
Scott said the toughest part of the show was the Chef’s Table, which saw him cook for 25 of the greatest chefs in the country, who hold 40 Michelin stars between them.
“My most challenging moment in the competition has to be the Chef’s Table,” he explained. “We were cooking for our heroes; we were trying to show how good we are. I started off brilliantly but the pressure really got to me. The emotion of the whole competition caught up with me – I wanted it to be perfect and it wasn’t.”
However, there were also plenty of highlights during the seven week competition. "For me there were two standout highlights - the experience of Mugaritz as a whole, which was just really special, and cooking my rabbit dish, which Marcus Wareing described as perfect," said Scott.
Scott’s final winning menu consisted of a starter of picked east newt crab with pickled cucumber and raw Granny Smith apple, served with an Arbroath smokie veloute and savoury doughnuts filled with flaked smokies and Tobermore cheddar with a crunchy topping of burnt Parmesan and chives, a main course of glazed short rib of beef topped with beef dripping fried croutons and onion, smoked beef sirloin, salt balked turnips and burnt shallot puree, served with watercress puree and a beef jus, and a dessert of Brillat Savarin and lemon cake topped with Italian meringue with lemon macarons almond crumb, lemon curd and salted almonds served with a basil sorbet.
“Those three dishes were the story of my life so far. The starter was inspired by my childhood in Scotland, and baking with my grandmother as a child. The main course was just me on a plate - short rib of beef is one of my favourite things in the world and I love slow cooking and cheaper cuts. The dessert was a variation of a dish that my mum used to make,” he told BigHospitality.
He added that his mum - who was the first female to become a sous chef in Britain - was his 'harshest critic' but also his 'biggest inspiration'.
“You always want to make your mum proud and it feels great to do just that,” he said.
So what is next for Scott? For now, the chef says he will continue working at St Andrews restaurant Rocca.
“In the short term I just want to enjoy Christmas and spending some time with my family,” he said. “Then we will see what happens in January. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing at the restaurant so hopefully I will get to meet lots of new people and perhaps organise some demonstrations.
“My long term ambition is definitely to open my own restaurant. I want to see my name above the door and to win a Michelin star.”
Scott said the future restaurant would be modern British with personal influences, including his love of Thai food and his experiences of baking with his grandmother as a child and cooking French cuisine with his mum.
“But it really depends on the location,” he added. “I would love to open a restaurant in London but I would also love to stay in Scotland and open somewhere in Edinburgh. And I don’t know whether I want to open a standalone restaurant, or one in a hotel, or even a pub. I will just have to wait and see.”
He said he would also love to cook more on TV and write a book.
Summing up his MasterChef: The Professionals journey, Scott said: “The competition has been absolutely amazing. I’ve just grown in confidence and refined myself more. To impress the judges I’ve had to come up with new ideas, new techniques, you’re not going to get better people critiquing your food.”
His advice for aspiring young chefs? “Keep your head down and push on. Don’t moan about the work, just do it when you are young, keep pushing and work as hard as you can.”