The Edinburgh Restaurant Awards are judged by an independent panel of industry experts.

Find out more about the judges we have on board so far!

Ailidh Forlan

Ailidh is the discerning foodie behind Plate Expectations, an Edinburgh based account filled with unbiased, no-nonsense reviews, coupled with drool-worthy food photography, boasting a following of over 40,000. It’s here, and as a freelance food critic for various publications including i-on and The List, where she champions Scotland’s local produce and documents its newest, most innovative dining experiences. In 2019 Ailidh’s first book Street Food Scotland was published, and she’s by no means a stranger to food awards, having judged the Scottish Thistle Awards Best Eating Experience in 2018 and 2019, and the Scottish Street Food Awards for the past three years.

Gary Maclean

Born in Glasgow, multi-award-winning chef Gary Maclean has been at the heart of the Scottish hospitality industry for 35 years, working up and down the country to open and develop over 80 venues.  

The Scottish Government awarded Gary the title of Scotland’s National Chef. In this voluntary role, Gary supports the Scottish Government in food health, education and the promotion of Scotland’s amazing produce around the world. Gary is an ambassador for Scottish food and food education, and fully believes that every child should be entitled to a quality food education. It is this passion for mentoring young people that led him to become the Executive Chef at City of Glasgow College. 

His work in education has been widely recognised: he is a Fellow of the Master Chefs of Great Britain and the International Institute of Hospitality Management, and in 2019 Gary was inducted into the Scotland Colleges Hall of Fame. In 2021 he was also awarded the Mark Twain award by the St Andrews Society of New York for his work on Scottish–American relations.   

In December 2016 he was crowned the champion of BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals after taking on 47 other professional chefs in pursuit of gastronomic glory. Since then, Gary has travelled the world to promote Scottish food education and culture, including in the USA, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Colombia, Cuba and Canada. 

Gary is the author of Kitchen Essentials: The Joy of Home Cooking, and Gary Maclean’s Scottish Kitchen. Gary also owns a sustainable seafood restaurant in Edinburgh called Creel Caught

Kate Dranginis

Kate leads on the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Net Zero projects, helping hospitality businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. She has over a decade of experience of working in bars and restaurants, including over three-years on Edinburgh’s hospitality scene. Kate moved to Edinburgh to study a master’s degree in climate change management at Heriot-Watt university and fell in love with the city, especially the restaurants and bars on offer. She now lives in Leith with her partner and their dog. Her favourite dining style is small plates shared with friends, so she can try as many dishes as possible. Kate is looking forward to highlighting and celebrating the hard work restaurants are doing to improve their sustainability and lower their environmental impact.

Stephen Jardine

Stephen is one of Scotland’s best known journalists and broadcasters.

Stephen started his career at STV before becoming Scotland Correspondent and Europe Correspondent for GMTV.

In 2000 he returned to Scotland to present a range of programmes including the flagship news show “Scotland Today”.

Stephen now works for the BBC presenting programmes including the weekly audience discussion show “Debate Night” and his own morning programme on BBC Radio Scotland.

Stephen also writes a food and drink column in The Scotsman and founded Scotland’s first food and drink PR company Taste Communications.

Elizabeth Carter

Elizabeth Carter was appointed editor of The Good Food Guide in November 2006 – a position she regards as her dream job, and still does, some 15 years later. With extensive experience in restaurant-related publishing and media (having previously edited numerous restaurant guides), she can claim to have an exhaustive knowledge of British restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafes and thinks nothing of travelling several hundred miles for a good meal. She can be described as a woman with a mission – to encourage more affordable good eating across the country.

Emily Campbell Johnston

Emily has been working within Edinburgh City Centre for over twenty years, promoting the incredible experiences and shops, bars and restaurants within the Business Improvement District to local and national audiences. In March this year Emily created the successful Eat Out Edinburgh promotion to encourage locals and residents to support city centre restaurants and cafes and urge office workers back into town. Emily was also part of the award-winning team that deliver the highly successful Edinburgh Restaurant Festival.

Iain Clunie

Iain heads up the Food and Drink team at Zero Waste Scotland and is tasked with leading on the delivery of reducing food waste in Scotland by one-third by 2025. His role involves supporting both industry and consumers to reduce avoidable food waste, and maximising the value of unavoidable food waste from the farm gate and ‘beyond the bin’.

He also oversees Zero Waste Scotland’s food waste reduction support for hospitality businesses and has led on the delivery of a unique food waste audit package that has identified cost and carbon savings for more than 300 Scottish food and drink businesses since 2016.

Following four years running his own hospitality business and several years as an independent consultant, Iain has built up significant industry experience supporting businesses to reduce food waste and joined Zero Waste Scotland in August 2016.

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar has been at The Scotsman since 2002, and has been The Scotsman Magazine’s restaurant reviewer every Saturday since 2007



Sam Kemp

Edinburgh-born Sam Kemp is Market Development Leader across the UK for Zettle by PayPal. He has been instrumental in helping hundreds of hospitality companies, bars, clubs and restaurants trade more easily and effectively using the latest technology.

He was particularly active during the Covid pandemic when he was able to assist pop-up businesses and outside traders requiring non-cash, fully-integrated Zettle solutions. Zettle supports an increasing number of Edinburgh’s top hospitality venues.

Sam, who holds an MBA from Edinburgh Napier University, has worked extensively within the Scottish SME market creating and executing a strategy to accelerate demand for Zettle and PayPal products. He is proud to be working on the front-line issues facing the hospitality industry. He enjoys watching and playing football, and is married with two active, young boys. He lives with Zara in Dalgety Bay.