Chef Talk: Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai’s Trevor Macleod

It’s rare that you’ll meet a chef whose decision to enter the industry was “a toss up between that or being a paramedic.” But Fairmont Peace Hotel Chef de Cuisine Trevor Macleod proves full of surprises.

Meeting Macleod, the first thing that strikes you is how someone of his youth could have amassed such an impressive portfolio. After working at various five star hotels in his native Canada, Macleod spent three years in Abu Dhabi - during which time he opened the award winning Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill for the renowned Michelin star chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White - before moving further East and arriving in Shanghai at the Fairmont three months ago - at the age of 28. 

Hard work has been the driving force behind Macleod’s success. “After I finished high school I applied to culinary school and did a four month internship at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Canada,” he recalls. “While I was there, there were about 120 other chefs, and I found there was plenty to be involved in: pastry, fine dining, lots of different opportunities. It was almost like I was working a double education; I found myself working nights and doing a lot of extra shifts because there was so much to learn. And then after I completed my apprenticeship I ended up staying on and worked there for about five years.”

If diversity across his trade was one of the skills he developed while working in Canada, he only developed it further when he made the decision to move to the Middle East. “That was a cool experience; as well as working for someone I had idolised and looked up to my whole career [Pierre White], I also met some young guys from Sri Lanka, Philippines and Nepal and learnt how to make these great curries and biryanis.” Macleod later found himself promoted to Senior Banquet Chef and consequently also found himself immersed in an interesting part of the local culture: preparing for a lot of traditional and extravagant Arabic weddings.

Shanghai, while notably different, offers a lot of exciting challenges for Macleod, and over the last few months he has been experimenting with putting his take on a summer menu at the Fairmont of French and Italian truffles, which so far have received positive feedback. “I’m always looking for new ways I can develop the menu,” he says. “But the reception so far has been very good. [Next] month we have a new game promotion, and I’ve also found some nice organic potatoes, as well as some fresh scallops and sea bass which I’m looking to experiment with.”

A long way then from a boy who nearly became a paramedic. “Well, I always cooked with my grandmother when I was a child,” he laughs. “She was a great cook. I was a very fussy eater as a kid though, so I guess there's also an element of luck I'm doing what I do now!”