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  1. hifda 14 winner-finalist logos_page_1 (2)

    Finalists demonstrate a healthy and innovative industry throughout the region

    Food and drink businesses around the Highlands & Islands and Cairngorms National Park area have finally discovered whether they’ve made it to the next stage of the industry’s most prestigious awards as organisers of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards (HIFDA) announced the 41 shortlisted finalists today (Monday 26th).

    Over the past few months, the 14 judges have read their way through dozens of written submissions, sampled a variety of the best of Scottish produce ranging from buffalo, goat and salmon, salad dressings, biscuits and cheese to ice creams, cordials, whiskies and craft beers, and deliberated their conclusions at length until the winning businesses were agreed upon.

    Shortlisted businesses for the 12 awards come from all corners of the region from Keith to Kiltarlity, from Shetland to Skye, from Forres to Fort William and from Dalwhinnine to Dornoch and Dunoon - a promising sign for the continuing breadth of talent in the industry.

    This year the judging panel was chaired by Stephen Rankin, director of UK Sales at the Awards’ headline sponsor Gordon & MacPhail.  The judges comprised experienced individuals from all sectors of the food and drink industry, including Head Chef Charlie Lockley of the Michelin starred Boath House near Nairn and representatives from industry organisation Scotland Food & Drink and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

    Chair Stephen Rankin commented:  “It was a genuine pleasure to chair the judging panel again.  The expertise, integrity and professional approach of the judges was outstanding and the diversity and extremely high quality of submissions was an on-going reminder of the imagination, passion and skill which is prevalent throughout the industry.

    “I would like to thank the many companies and individuals who entered the Awards and congratulate them on their submissions.  As HIFDA grows in stature, more and more companies are keen to gain the recognition an award brings.  This obviously makes the judging process more challenging; but it really does signify that being shortlisted for an award is truly a fantastic accolade.

    “It was fantastic to review such a diverse range of entries from a brilliant blend of well-established companies to youngsters and new businesses just starting out in the industry.  The latter group’s bravery and willingness to take on responsibility has to be admired and recognised.

    “Because of the high level of entries this year, I would like to highlight that top level feedback is available for those who have been unsuccessful in their submission, and I would urge these businesses to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

    “I’d like to wish good luck to all the shortlisted finalists and I hope to see them all at the Awards Dinner and Ceremony in October.”

    Charlie Lockley was a first-time member of the judging panel this year.  "I was honoured to be asked to be a judge this year." he said.  "I didn't really know what to expect or what was expected of me, but I found the process and the experience 'behind closed doors' a real eye-opener and an informative learning curve.

    "In summary, I can confirm that a judges' job is a pretty tough one - but definitely enjoyable and inspirational!  The high number of quality entries lead to a lot of debate amongst the judges before finalists and winners could be decided on.  This was particularly the case when it came to sampling the products for the Best Drink and New Product Awards - the variety and quality of the products entered this year shows how creative and knowledgeable the food and drink industry is through the region.

    "It was a highlight for me to learn about the great work which is going on in the area’s restaurant scene - much of which goes unrecognised.  These people, who are are so passionate and enthusiastic about what they are doing, put such extraordinary effort into running excellent restaurants and getting their names out there.  I can't wait to go and visit them for myself and to see (and taste) the results of their hard work first-hand."

    The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards complement the work of the Highlands and Islands Food & Drink Forum and are supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  They celebrate excellence and achievement in the industry and recognise industry players at the top of their game.

    Crystal Mackay, HIE’s Development Manager for Food & Drink said:  “HIE is extremely pleased to see such a high level and quality of entries received from across the region for the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards.  Our fantastic natural larder is a key strength for the region and growing the food and drink sector is a priority for the agency.  We welcome and thank all the dedicated companies across the Highlands and Islands and Cairngorms National Park area who entered and we wish all the shortlisted companies the best of luck in the forthcoming awards.”

    Shortlisted finalists have been announced in 12 categories including Best Drink, Export, Independent Food & Drink Retailer, New Product and Restaurant of the Year.  The winners of two additional categories not open for general entry, namely Ambassador of the Year and the Judges’ Award, will be made at the discretion of the judges and revealed at the Awards Ceremony.

    The winners of all the awards will be announced at the Awards Dinner and Ceremony at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness on Friday, 24th October.  The event attracts around 300 representatives from the region’s top food and drink businesses who gather annually to celebrate all that is best in the industry in the Highlands and Islands and Cairngorms National Park area.

    The evening’s proceedings will be hosted by popular presenter and comedian Fred MacAulay – back by popular demand!  Tickets cost £75 +VAT and can be purchased online at www.hifoodanddrink.co.uk.

  2. Thank you to all of our customers who came and bought our meat at Thainstone on Saturday.sold out It was our first show and we had so much fun. We had a very busy time and SOLD OUT IN 3 HOURS!! Our tasters of goat burgers and sausages went down a treat and got some great feedback from people. - Bring on next year!!!

  3. Aberdeenshire is One of the ‘Caledonia Best’... 
    Graduate’s Goat Meat Company is Unveiled as Successful Seed Fund Project   
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    Leading Scottish ale Caledonia Best has today (13th November) revealed the exciting mix of projects being backed by its Seed Fund initiative, one of which is Victoria Gardiner and partner Adam Wright’s plan to build a new Scottish goat meat company in Aberdeenshire.

    Victoria and Adams project is one of seven applicants that the Seed Fund is supporting, awarding them financial support necessary to get their projects off the ground. The successful proposals cover an extensive range of innovations in both farming and brewing in Scotland. 

    Victoria, a recent graduate of the Scottish Agricultural College, along with partner Adam – who is seeking a new entrant opportunity in farming – will receive backing from the Caledonia Best Seed Fund to invest in the goats they require to develop the new business.Victoria’s dissertation led her to conclude that goat meat is a widely overlooked market in Scotland. The Scottish Goat Meat Companyaims to produce high quality, sustainable goat meat locally, and at an affordable price.

    Marking the first anniversary since the launch of Tennent Caledonian’s new ale, the inaugural year of the Seed Fund has seen Caledonia Best generate £58,000 to supportinnovative projects which may not have otherwise been able to happen – raised through a 5p donation in every pint sold in the first six months of the year. 

    Victoria comments: 

    Adam and I are delighted the panel chose to invest in our new goat meat company. It was during my degree that my understanding and passion for goats began, and after graduating we knew we wanted to work in goat farming, but didn’t know where to take it from there.We are extremely proud to be one of the projects supported by the Seed Fund this year, the backing Caledonia Best has offered has given us the means to begin our business seriously, and hope that this will also help our endeavours to secure a farm to run our company on.  

    The Seed Fund’s panel has been impressed with the high calibre of entries, as NFUS representative and Seed Fund panellist, Alison Gillespie comments:  

    ‘I have found the process incredibly rewarding, and along with the rest of the panel, I have been quite overwhelmed by the standard of proposals that were sent in from all over the country. The innovation and tenacity shown by those who entered has been inspirational.  

    ‘The current financial climate has proven to be a big challenge for our industry, and the support Caledonia Best has shown the Scottish farming sector through its Seed Fund initiative will prove invaluable.’ 

    Professor Paul Hughes, Director of the Heriot-Watt ICBD adds: 

    ‘I am very proud to have been a founding partner of the Caledonia Best Seed Fund. It has been fascinating to discover what a positive difference this funding scheme can have, not only for individuals, but also the brewing and farming sectors as a whole.’  

    ‘This is an incredibly exciting time in brewing, with numerous micro-breweries producing new  ideas and innovations every day – and that Caledonia Best is helping some of these projects get off the ground really is something to celebrate.’  

    The panel believes that farming and brewing ventures receiving support from the Seed Fund are diverse and rich with potential. The list below outlines the six other projects throughout Scotland that are being backed by the Seed Fund: 

    • Anna Thompson will use the support offered from the Seed Fund to launch a range of Scottish flour, which she will mill at the farm she works on with her husband – something she has planned for years, but could only become a reality after receiving support from Caledonia Best’s initiative   

    • St Andrews’ Eden Brewery has received funding to buy machinery which will enable the business to flourish  

    • Aspiring farmer, Peter Will has been awarded funding to purchase the stock necessary to start a novel farming company outside Glasgow, with a view to beginning his own butchery business  

    • NFUS New Generation Group will use funding offered to develop its communication skills to ensure Scotland is at the forefront of the European farming community  

    • Scottish Borders Brewery and the Big Tree Society are planning an innovative collaboration to develop a new range of beers that will be naturally sourced through foraging. They plan to develop this project through online forums to increase awareness and test which flavours are most popular amongst the public 

    • Dunfermline’s Abbot House has been granted funding to renovate its outhouse into what was formally one of Scotland’s most successful breweries. This will be a local historic tourist attraction  

    John Gilligan, Managing Director of Tennent Caledonian Breweries comments:  

    When Caledonia Best launched in October 2011, as well as sourcing 100 per cent of our barley from Scottish farmers, we issued a pledge to donate 5 pence from every pint sold in the first six months of sale to support the industries at our heart – farming and brewing. 

    ‘Everyone needs a helping hand when they start in business, and as one of Scotland’s oldest businesses and most experienced brewers, it’s hugely rewarding to be giving back at the grass roots through the Seed Fund scheme.  

    ‘We look forward to working closely with all initiatives being supported by the Seed Fund, and to seeing how the funds are put to good use in 2013 and beyond.’