As head chef of Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond, Graeme Cheevers has achieved a lot in his career. It’s when you discover he was given the position at just twenty-three years old that you realise just how accomplished the young chef is. Growing up in Glasgow meant Graeme was always surrounded by Scottish produce, and his love of cooking came naturally in his youth.
‘I’ve always had a connection with cooking, ever since I was twelve or thirteen,’ he says. ‘I just cooked in the house at weekends, got really interested in it and decided to do home economics at school. It turned out there weren’t enough people interested in it for the class to go ahead, so they referred me to a catering college. I went there for a year but didn’t really enjoy it – everything was very repetitive, and I liked my part-time job in a kitchen much more. I eventually gave it up and starting working in a two AA rosette place in Glasgow, which really got me interested in high-end cooking.’
Graeme’s passion for the best produce didn’t wane, and soon he was working all over Scotland, including The Peat Inn with Geoffrey Smeddle. Martin Wishart was already well known for his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in Edinburgh, and was planning to open a second venue at Cameron House on Loch Lomond. When Graeme got wind of this, he jumped at the chance to work there. ‘Loch Lomond was near to where I was based at the time, so I went for dinner on the opening night and approached him about a job,’ he says. ‘They didn’t have anything available, so I started working there one day a week for work experience. After about three or four months I was given a commis position in pastry, even though the head chef at the time didn’t think I should get it – something he later regretted!’
Working in a newly opened restaurant with a lot of press attention wasn’t easy, but Graeme – who was just twenty-one at the time – rose to the challenge. ‘It was quite a tough environment as we had to get a Michelin star within the first few years of opening,’ he says. ‘A lot of people couldn’t take it and left, so it meant there was plenty of room to move up if you had the nerve.’