THE first female executive head chef at a 5-star hotel in Scotland, Gillian Matthews, has left Bo & Birdy, the restaurant at Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel.

She was appointed last year after a stylish renovation of the dining room in the converted Georgian townhouse and established a menu that was enjoyed by guests including Hugh Jackman, Ariana Grande and Billy Connolly. Now, having been made redundant, Gillian is set to embark on her own baking business. Sweet Prospects will launch a website at the end of the month.

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After registering her kitchen to start production, her first commission was from Marco Giannasi at Battlefield Rest who sold bundles of her cakes to customers last month during the period when restaurants were closed. “Marco had mentioned to me about a year and a half ago that he was looking for someone to do pastries and cakes, so I got in touch with him” she said.

Gillian began her hospitality career as a waitress at La Bonne Auberge on West Nile Street. She had the opportunity to move into the kitchen where she spent two and a half years before moving to Blythswood Square. After taking a keen interest in pastry making, she moved to a role making handmade chocolates and desserts before returning to the hotel as pastry chef and moving up the ranks to running the kitchen.

Setting out on her own, she will return to her real food passions through Sweet Prospects. “I’ve been saving up to start my own thing for a while” she explained, “then, with Covid-19 happening, I figured I would take my chances.

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“I’d been with the Blythswood Square Hotel for almost ten years so my redundancy payment from there will add to the business pot and I’ll give it a go. The website will be ready at the end of the month. I’m doing ‘decorate your own cake kits’ for kids. I’m working on decorated biscuit gifts and birthday boxes. I’m going to do some afternoon tea at home.”

When the business website launches I’ll also be taking orders for Christmas Day desserts.”

Gillian Mylles, hotel manager at Kimpton Blythswood Square said: “Our focus for the hotel and restaurant is coming through the current restrictions and looking forward to Christmas, which is usually a very busy season for us with visitors to Glasgow celebrating the festive season here in the hotel.

“Head Chef Daniel Matthews has stepped up to the role after returning to the kitchen at Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel last year. He will continue to lead our celebration of great Scottish produce at The Bo & Birdy, focussing on local provenance, from farm to fabulous.”

New Bistro for Hyndland

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The brunch revival continues in Hyndland.

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Locker, a new café and bistro that will have its own bakery, is set to open at 29 Clarence Drive next month – expect fluffy pancakes served with black fruits compote, creme Chantilly, fresh berries and honey or charred flatbread with avocado, dukkah, feta, baby tomatoes, beetroot pesto and coriander dressing.

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Chef David Hetherington will be making croissants, breads and cakes.

Glasgow Film Festival Plots Return

The Celtic Connections Festival set the precedent when they announced a “digital-first” performance strategy for January next year with concerts being streamed online. Now, the Glasgow Film Festival has offered its own solution to pandemic conditions, announcing a hybrid format for the 17th edition of the annual celebration of cinema which will run from 24 February to 7 March 2021.

In-cinema screenings at the Glasgow Film Theatre, will run alongside the introduction of an online streaming service, Glasgow Film At Home, a new year-round platform that will go live later this month.

This year’s festival, which attracted record audiences with more than 43,000 admissions, finished just as the first steps were being taken towards lockdown.

Allison Gardner, Glasgow Film CEO and Co-Director of Glasgow Film Festival said: “We are delighted to be bringing Glasgow Film Festival back in 2021 in as safe as possible a way. GFF has always been a festival for audiences and, though our festival must take a different shape this year, our audiences are still at the heart of everything we do.”

Shop Local: Social Recluse

Social Recluse create prints and t-shirts to a soundtrack of music, fashion, football and subculture. Founder Robert Chalmers quit his job ten years ago to concentrate on screen-printing and design. “It started off with ten t-shirts a week, then football fans got into it, then I started doing merchandise for Glasgow bands and it all built up from there.” Inspired by classic styles, he began to put images of trainers together with albums and singles for a collection that caught the attention of collectors: “I make t-shirts for myself, because I like the music and the culture, I’m lucky that other people like them too.” 

During lockdown, Robert joined an art project through pall Ross Muir and designed posters that were displayed across the city. “I was running a lot during that time. The design just came to me in a lightning bolt. It was centred around the Simple Minds lyrics “Don’t You Forget About Me”. I wanted people going around to read this, start singing along, and hopefully feel a bit better. Music played its part again.” You can find their shop at 48 King Street.