Glasgow Food Stories: I helped create a classic dance anthem, now I'm a chef in Bearsden

55 Bearsden Cross, the Cocktail Bar & Kitchen on Drymen Road, Bearsden, has appointed a new Head Chef who has made both food and music his passions for many years.
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Glaswegian John Keenan has a major claim to fame through a dance classic which many people will know and love, and which is still a floor filler 24 years after its release – Toca's Miracle by Fragma.

As manager of the group, back in the year 2000, when he worked in the music industry across London, Glasgow, and parts of Europe, John saw the classic dance anthem sell 560,000 copies, gaining him a gold disc.

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Other highlights of his music industry career included forming an Independent Record Label called Contribution Records; managing the Scottish Black soul singer Robert Ferrier, later signed to Mega Records in Sweden, and additionally managing Scottish Vocalist Roberta Childs who scored a number Two in the Dance Charts with NRC's Here Comes the Rain Again.

Having initially worked as a chef in the Royal Navy before his time in music, John quit the music industry and decided to go back to cooking, which had been his first love. Gaining an HNC in cookery, he began his professional career as a chef at Pintxo Tapas Restaurant in Glasgow.  He then went on to work in kitchens including at Wild Cabaret in the Merchant City, Melville Castle in Dalkeith, and the Spindthrift Restaurant at Pebbles Spa, Lendalfoot in Ayrshire.

“I really enjoyed my time in the music industry, it was an exciting and fast paced life, with the Fragma hit a real highlight that I’ll always be thankful for,” said John. “But I always knew it had a shelf life for me, and that food would be the industry I’d return to, but at a new, dedicated level, with the correct training and experience behind me,” he added.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work in some fantastic places over the last few years, where I have been able to work closely with hospitality owners, developing new menus and concepts.”

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In 2012 John was also in a Top Ten of professional chefs picked from Scotland to go forward to “Masterchef the Professionals.”

“I was delighted to be considered,” he said. “I did the menus, but did not go further, although they said I should apply again. I didn’t get round to it at the time, but never say never.”

He continued: “I’m massively excited about this new role at 55 Beardens Cross, which is a stunning bar & kitchen, one of the latest offerings from Worq, which is a fantastic, progressive hospitality business that is really putting its mark on the industry.”

“I’m looking to build up the food and drink clientele here, and have already devised a new menu. I’d love to gain an AA rosette for my food, that is one of my main ambitions, as I have a gold disc to my name for my former career, so why not the ultimate accolade for my current career? The sky is the limit here, and I have a committed and supportive team beside me.”

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The newly launched a la carte menu at 55 Bearsden Cross offers a choice of smaller and larger plates, with smaller plate dishes including beetroot and whisky cured salmon; zatar fried chicken, with a hot sauce, maple syrup, waffle and a fried egg; beef carpaccio, and keema & haggis flid de brick roll, served with an Irn Bru hot sauce.

Bigger plate choices include chicken Milanese, caesar salad, Mediterranean super salad, fillet steak and seabass fillets with crab and coriander mash, grilled asparagus, and balsamic glaze. A choice of burgers are also available, along with tacos with a choice of fillings, such as barbecue filled jackfruit, crispy haddock and slow cooked beef brisket.

For dessert, there's sticky toffee pudding, deconstructed white chocolate & raspberry ripple cheesecake, a coffee and milk chocolate mousse with orange curd, toasted hazelnuts, rum and caramel sauce.  

Commenting on John’s appointment, Jonathan Doherty, Managing Director of Worq Hospitality, said: “We welcome John to 55 Bearsden Cross. He is a chef with a huge passion for his craft, coupled with bags of enthusiasm and new ideas. He knows Glasgow inside out too.”

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“It would also appear that he does indeed put the same level of commitment into his food career as he did in the past with his impressive music career!  We are very confident that our clientele at 55 Bearsden Cross, our regulars and those still discovering us, will very much enjoy his food.” 

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