Experiencing Scotland Quarterly Update for November 2013

The latest Quarterly Update from Experiencing Scotland, the initiative which supports tourism companies to provide and promote the high quality food and drink produce Scotland offers.

Highlights include:

• How Auchindrain in Argyll is using ‘food stories’ drawing on the heritage of the site to deliver food as a visitor ‘experience’.

• ‘Taste of National Tourist Routes, Norway’, an initiative to promote the people and businesses offering unique and authentic food experiences along five routes in the country.

• How Scottish Dim Sum are helping to meet the expectations of the growing market of Chinese visitors to The Amber Restaurant at the Scotch Whisky Experience.

Help your catering operation become a more profitable part of your business

Over 70 businesses have now benefitted from the 1-2-1 support offered by Experiencing Scotland, and are reaping the rewards both in terms of improvements to their bottom line and increased customer satisfaction.

While one of the main aims of the project is to help businesses make more of Scotland’s rich natural larder, feedback from the companies supported to date suggests that the ‘holistic’ approach taken by Experiencing Scotland, which involves a diagnostic of their overall catering operation, has in many cases been equally beneficial.

Experiencing Scotland’s catering and food service consultant Sandra Reid says: “Business support encompasses a full review of the catering activity. We take a 360 degree approach and we look at all aspects of the business - menus, food sourcing and procurement, merchandising, marketing, staffing, customer service and training, and ultimately we look at financial delivery. Is the food offer delivering financially for the business?

“If it’s not, or if we think that it could be making a greater contribution to the overall performance of the business, then we work with the team on the ground to identify possible areas for improvement. The aim is to provide them with a practical action plan that they can take forward in their own time and monitor against the industry benchmarks supplied.

“This review process has already helped management teams to find practical solutions to operational challenges they have been grappling with for years. In other cases it has simply highlighted possible new product development, marketing or customer service ideas. The most useful thing, in many cases, is to have a fresh, independent pair of eyes take a look at the catering operation from a visitor or guest point of view.

At Moness Resort in Aberfeldy, Sandra was able to identify a number of areas where the catering operation was failing to meet business needs and to suggest some simple solutions to these issues, such as using kitchen ‘down time’ more profitably for food preparation and menu development, altering the traditional shift pattern to meet the needs of the business more adequately and ‘up skilling’ bar staff to deliver the bar food and snack menu.

Sandra also identified that increased skills and training for both kitchen and service teams would lead to a much-needed reduction in pressure on the head chef and restaurant manager, and was able to signpost Resort Director Terry Vose to funding available through Skills Development Scotland to help address this need.

Terry says: “The changes which Sandra suggested will undoubtedly have a very positive effect on our overall catering operation in the long term, reducing pressure on staff at key times and making the very best use of their skills and time”.

Following their recent Experiencing Scotland review, New Lanark Heritage Trust have been emboldened to think out of the box and buy a local ice-cream company and delivery bike, in order to enhance their food and drink offer and profit margins at their food operations including New Lanark Mill Hotel and the Trust’s Visitor Centre.

“This is a fantastic example of the innovation the business support from Experiencing Scotland can lead to”, says Sandra.

Find out how Experiencing Scotland’s 1-2-1 support has helped two of Scotland’s most iconic tourism businesses, Abbotsford House and Edinburgh Castle, to increase the profitability of their food and drink operations by checking out their stories at http://www.experiencingscotland.com/videos/  

To learn more about 1-2-1 support or to register interest click here, telephone 0845 607 8787 or email enquiries@scotent.co.uk

Case studies......


Auchindrain is the most complete surviving example of a farm township, a type of settlement representative of much of Scottish rural history before 1800. Located six miles south of Inveraray, it is now preserved as a museum of the way things were.

The attraction recently signed up to receive 1-2-1 expert advice and business support from the Experiencing Scotland food and drink project, in order to review the current business approach to the visitor catering operation at Auchindrain Tearoom. 

The location of Auchindrain means that by necessity most produce is sourced locally or from wholesalers within a 50 mile radius. The catering operation also benefits from an abundance of fresh seasonal vegetables grown in the township’s “kailyards”.  Particularly during summer and early autumn, these are used as available in soups and ‘specials’.

Sandra Reid, Experiencing Scotland’s Catering Consultant, says: “The business has a good approach to maximising use of garden produce, which should continue and be supported in menu text and marketing collateral. It would be fantastic, however, if the team could look to deliver food as a visitor ‘experience’, drawing on the heritage of the site and featuring heritage dishes.

“One way of doing this might be to develop a range of workable heritage recipes, built into a manual for staff. Alongside this, garden produce-based recipes could be integrated into the offer on a seasonal basis. This would give an excellent reflection of how township residents cooked and ate, and as an added bonus, heritage dishes could be sold at a premium price aimed at delivering a higher margin.

“Auchindrain has a positive wealth of ‘food stories’ that could be adapted for use in menus and other point of sale material. These could include food and cooking ‘then and now’; links to crops farm machinery and equipment; social activity around food and drink; farming traditions and importance of the harvest; and the stories of food and people such as the tale of Bell a‘Phuill and the pancakes or the centuries-old Traveller connections with Auchindrain.

“Heritage recipes and food stories could be included on table talkers or tent cards and postcards, with the latter providing a souvenir value. There are also fantastic opportunities to develop links between people and recipes, for example ‘Travellers’ Broth’ or ‘Kailyard Pie’.

“This would really help to ensure that food and drink becomes a much more integral part of the whole visitor experience at Auchindrain, enhancing visitor satisfaction and boosting profitability”. 

Read the full case study at www.experiencingscotland.co.uk

New website to help you make more of Scotland’s world-class food & drink

Experiencing Scotland’s brand new website is now live!

The site is a ‘one stop shop’ for:

• Information on one-to-one business advice and support to help you make the most of the market opportunities.

• Details of new workshop support for tourism groups, to help them enhance the visitor experience through Scottish food & drink.

• A range of useful information, tools and resources to help you offer Scottish and regional food on your menus.

• Over 30 case studies highlighting how Experiencing Scotland has helped tourism businesses across Scotland to develop their food offer.

• Video clips featuring businesses that are satisfying their visitors’ desire for an authentic Scottish experience and improving their bottom line.

• The latest product innovations and ideas helping food & drink companies across the globe to stay one step ahead.

• Links to the latest business opportunities.

Access the site now at www.experiencingscotland.co.uk     

Grow your business through Scottish events

If you’re a food and drink company looking to capitalise on the business opportunities presented by Scotland’s rich calendar of events, two new websites are an absolute must….

Ready for Events has lots of great advice on how to work with events, including practical advice, information and resources to help you enter the market, and an ‘Events Finder’ facility which allows you to search for events in your area that include food retail or catering operations, and download catering specifications.

Scotland will welcome the world in 2014 –and it’s just around the corner!  Work continues apace to make the most of this big year for the food and drink sector when the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2014 Ryder Cup and Homecoming Scotland come to our shores. Find out more about the plans, how to get involved and benefit from this exceptional year today at 2014 Food & Drink.

Grasp the opportunity now and make the most of Scotland’s ‘winning years’!

New Supplier Showcase replaces Scotland Food & Drink’s Buyers’

Scotland Food & Drink’s Supplier Showcase - the next generation of its popular Buyers’ Guide - launched in September.

Containing the updated details of over 1000 suppliers and producers across Scotland, the Showcase is designed to make sourcing and buying Scottish produce as simple as possible. Users can search for suppliers by region or category, as well as creating printable favourites lists.

It was launched in conjunction with several other sourcing tools, which can be found alongside the Showcase: a food map, seasonality calendar and a number of case studies from both a supplier and chef’s point of view.

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight - save the date!

This year's Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight was the most successful yet, with thousands of visitors celebrating the best of Scottish produce at 322 events across the country. A large number of producers, retailers and foodservice businesses took part in a wide range of activities which celebrated Scotland’s fantastic larder and our Land of Food and Drink.

Next year's Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight runs from the 6th to the 21st September, it’s a great hook with which to promote your business. Visit http://www.scottishfoodanddrinkfortnight.co.uk/  to explore ways you can be involved.

Food for thought

A brief round-up of some of the latest ideas and innovations from around the culinary world.....

World Food Travel Summit 21-24 September: Gothenburg, Sweden

In September, Helen McNeill (Food & Drink Sector Team, Scottish Enterprise) attended the World Food Travel Summit in Gothenburg. Just over 200 people representing 28 countries were at the event. The summit provided a forum for professionals in the food and drink industry, in the travel and hospitality industry, as well as wider groups such as academics, public sector organisations/agencies and media professionals.

The topics covered a phenomenal range of interests, for example: The Success of Nomanomics: how one restaurant changed a Nation; The Chinese Traveller of Tomorrow; True to Our Roots : the conscious decision to Avoid Fast Food, and Building a Fame Worthy Culinary Destination.

One of the most striking presentations was delivered by Egil Ørjan Thorsen, Project Manager for the Taste of National Tourist Routes, Norway.  Norway has already invested in developing National Tourism Routes – designated routes within Norway that offer stunning scenery as you journey up and down the country. They then asked themselves the simple question: “Can Norwegian food culture measure up to the country’s most beautiful sights?”  

They recognised that gastronomy is becoming increasingly important within the tourism industry and that food is a way for various destinations to increase their profile. They have developed this notion as part of a pilot initiative “The Taste of National Tourism Routes” – bringing together famers, food producers, hotels and restaurants. Its purpose is to promote the people and businesses who offer unique and authentic food experiences along five specific routes.

In their own words: “This is not just about food for connoisseurs and three-course meals, but rather serving food that is distinctive and with a special connection to the place and its history. The project promotes a wide variety of excellent places to eat that focus on Norwegian and local ingredients. At the same time it is a matter of creating a total experience of food in its natural environment, with such factors as the local cultural landscape and the hosts playing a major role. Those involved have also arrived at a shared and binding core set of values that make them ambassadors for good food, with a concern for ingredients, quality, back-story and good hospitality.”

The links below provide further details and information about the Routes, including some stunning images of Norwegian landscapes and Fjords!



Look out for more on the Summit in the February Update. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact helen.mcneill@scotent.co.uk for more information.

Scotch Whisky Experience offers pots of Scotland to visitors

The Amber Restaurant at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh is constantly looking at emerging trends in food tourism and adapting its offer accordingly.

Recognising that Chinese visitors have a preference for ‘sharing’, the restaurant has rolled out a Scottish Dim Sum offer to appeal to this market, using international techniques such as steamers but incorporating Scottish produce. ‘Pots of Scotland’ and sharing platters with Scottish meats, fish and cheeses, all matched with whisky, are also on offer.

A Platinum Tour has been introduced as the last tour of the day in the visitor centre, linked to a food and drink ‘Taste of Scotland’ menu, to appeal to high spending visitors looking for unique experiences.

They have also collaborated with a smokehouse, arranging for salmon to be painted with their 25 year old anniversary blend whisky prior to smoking. The product is available exclusively in the restaurant – a unique product with added value and a story for visitors.


Hotel takes its kitchen to the streets

The Four Seasons hotel chain took to the road recently with the Four Seasons Taste Truck, a roving restaurant that offered passers-by a taste of the haute cuisine available to its booking guests.

With an 8-week tour covering large parts of the Western USA, the food truck pitched up and offered a sample of the meals from the brand’s hotel menus. The menu included dishes ranging from Bucatini pasta with pesto and green beans to Banh mi with porchetta, cooked by Michelin-star chef Marco Fossati. The food truck was also used to create community events centering around food, such as Oktoberfest celebrations and urban art exhibitions.

The tour aimed to raise awareness of the meals available at Four Seasons hotels, as well as heighten its brand profile in the marketplace.


Savouring sensory science

Dundee Science Festival recently invited guests on a multi-sensory journey, with its first ever ‘science of taste’ event. The event brought together the science of taste, Scotch whisky food pairing with a molecular focus and Dundee's first ‘Flavour Tripping’ experience. 

Guests were invited to sample local artisan produce together with local whisky.  Local food and drink producers involved included Cairn O Mohr, Mackays, Summer Harvest, Iain R. Spink, Glencadam whisky, Scotherbs and Taste of Angus.

Unleashing the taste journey was a Marmalade Maltjito, a whisky cocktail with marmalade and mint, made like a mojito and served in a jam jar as nod to Dundee's past using present day Mackays marmalade.  Another quirky dish was the Arbroath Smokie popping cone, a mousse in a mini ice cream cone with popping candy! 

Register for FREE updates from Experiencing Scotland

Experiencing Scotland offers a range of free communications designed to highlight the benefits of offering Scottish food & drink. To register contact Scottish Enterprise, Tel: 0845 607 8787 or email enquiries@scotent.co.uk  

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