Plenty on their plate to find a winner ...

Judges from left - Scott Anderson, Martin Hollis, Heather Turnbull, Megan Tatum and 'Stephen Frost.
Judges from left - Scott Anderson, Martin Hollis, Heather Turnbull, Megan Tatum and 'Stephen Frost.

A record number of entrants in Scotland’s Food and Drink Excellence Awards were put through their paces at Elmwood College this week.

Judges put their palates to the test on Wednesday and Thursday at the campus to decide the winning morsels ahead of the award ceremony in Edinburgh in June.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink

The awards recognise businesses and individuals in Scotland heading the way with innovation, enterprise and quality.

Sophie Fraser, comunication and marketing manager, said: “I’m delighted by this year’s record entry.

“It’s a testament to the growing size and quality of the food and drink industry in Scotland.

I’m also grateful to SRUC Elmwood for its continued support in helping to host and facilitate the judging days.

‘‘The facilities and staff are world-class and so our judges are tasting the food and drink entries under the very best conditions.”

Students at the college helped to prepare and present all of the entries under the expert tutelage of their professional tutors.

Sophie continued: “We have a great relationship with the college, something I hope will continue for many years. It is an interesting exercise and a great experience for the students.”

Entries were encouraged across 19 business and product categories. Increasingly recognised as recognition of the highest quality, the awards are organised by Scotland Food & Drink with The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: “These awards recognise the best products, business practice and individuals that make Scotland a land of food and drink.

“They highlight the strength of our industry, the wealth of talent and skill countrywide across all sectors.

‘‘Our expert panel provide constructive feedback which make the awards a useful exercise no matter how entrants perform, while finalists and winners benefit from an impressive boost to their profile as consumer awareness of the awards grows every year.”

The nine product awards are judged mainly by taste and a wide range of business categories, which include environmental sustainability, Scottish sourcing and investing in people in addition to an award recognising young talent in the industry.

The judges were comprised of experts from across the industry including Megan Tatum, senior features writer, The Grocer; Heather Turnbull, regional buyer Scotland Local Asda; Stephen Frost, divisional exec chef, Sodexo Prestige; Martin Hollis, execchef, Old Course Hotel and Scott Anderson, training and quality manager, Scottish Bakers.