THE first female executive head chef at a five-star hotel in Scotland has been appointed - after she started out as a waitress.

Gillian Matthews, 34, has climbed the culinary ranks, from a waitress and pastry chef to the highest position in the kitchen.

Ms Matthews will be heading up Glasgow’s only five-star hotel and spa - The Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel’s new restaurant, Bo & Birdy - as it opens its doors today (Wednesday).

Forging her way through a typically male-dominated industry, Ms Matthews started out as a waitress at La Bonne Auberge in the city’s West Nile Street.

Despite leaving school and doing well at university, Ms Matthews decided further education wasn’t for her and moved into the hospitality sector.

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After working as a breakfast and lunch waitress, Ms Matthews soon got her first taste of the kitchen, and said she “loved it straight away”.

Afterwards, she applied for a kitchen position at the French restaurant, where she spent two and a half years before moving to Kimpton Blythswood Square.

She worked at the hotel for two years, cooking alongside then executive chef Dan Hall.

It was at Blythswood she took a keen interest in pastry making, covering the pastry chef’s holidays and day’s off, but was unable to get a full-time position at the hotel.

She said: “I was doing the job occasionally but I really wanted to do it full-time so I left the hotel and went to work at the Number One Chocolate Factory, which sells handmade chocolates and desserts.

“When the pastry chef moved on, I was offered the chance to come back then moved up the ranks.”

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Upon returning to Kimpton Blythswood Square, Ms Matthews was still a minority in the kitchen, as all of her colleagues were men.

But since returning to the hotel she has seen a big change, which she said has created “more of an even balance”.

She said: “There were always more guys in the kitchen when I first started out.

“For example at La Bonne Auberge there was only me and one other female chef.

“And when I started here I was the only female in the kitchen – there had been a female breakfast chef but she had moved on – but now there’s loads of us."

Despite flourishing in her hospitality career, Ms Matthews didn’t initially believe the industry would be one she would make it in.

She said: “I never thought this career would be something I’d get into, but when the opportunity came up to try another department for the day I jumped at it.”

Ms Matthews has even found love in the kitchen, having married one of the chefs from La Bonne Auberge.

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She said: “I’d started seeing one of the chefs at La Bonne Auberge, who is now my husband, and he’d come home and talk about his day.

“He was just so passionate about his job which made me want to see what it was like.

“That’s why I tried it and instantly understood and enjoyed it.”

Ms Matthews will soon release her menu and said her signature dish from it is the Bo & Birdy Pie, made from slow red wine braised brisket with a cheddar shortcrust pastry.

Looking to chef Clare Smyth as her role model, she said she feels “very honoured” to be the first female executive head chef in a five-star hotel in Scotland.

She said: “I’m really thankful that the team here has given me the opportunity because I haven’t worked in a wide variety of different places.

“I haven’t travelled or been in different kitchens so I feel really grateful that they’ve given me the opportunity.”

More than £1m has been spent on creating the new 146-cover restaurant, Bo & Birdy which opens today.