Experiencing Scotland – joining the dots between supplier and restaurant
Over 60 businesses have now benefited from the 1-2-1 support offered by Experiencing Scotland, and such has been the success of the project that it has been extended to December 2014.
Experiencing Scotland’s catering consultant Sandra Reid says: “Business support encompasses a review of tourism business catering activity. We take a 360 degree approach and we look at all aspects of the business - menus, food sourcing, merchandising, marketing, staffing and training, and ultimately we look at financial delivery. Is the food offer delivering financially for the business?”
Abbotsford House in Melrose, formerly the residence of Sir Walter Scott, initially signed up to receive 1-2-1 business support from the project early in 2011, in respect of the small tearoom operation within the main house. Since then a new visitor centre has opened, featuring interpretation of Scott’s life and achievements, conference and exhibition facilities and restaurant and retail areas.
Sandra visited the new restaurant, to provide further guidance on the catering operation in preparation for the re-opening of the house in early 2013.
Justin Orde of ‘Gill Orde in Catering’, who manage the catering operation at Abbotsford says: “Being based in the Scottish Borders, I already know instinctively where to go for local produce. We are right next to St Boswells, where the local livestock market is, likewise for fish, Eyemouth is a fantastic fishing port. We’ve got great fruit as well in the area, so it was simply a case of knowing where this produce was and then having a helping hand in planning our menus from Experiencing Scotland.
“Experiencing Scotland has provided us with a really solid base from which to go out and identify how we can integrate great local produce into our menus, and at the same time do it in a way which is cost effective and makes sense commercially. It’s also helped us to signpost and incorporate local suppliers into our menus. It’s nice to be able to put the name of a supplier next to a particular product.
“For any business thinking about ways to increase the amount of local produce on their menus, I can’t really advise them any better than to go to Experiencing Scotland. It joins the dots between supplier and restaurant”.
The Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boat lift and connects the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal in the heart of Scotland. Operated by Scottish Canals, the Wheel is integral to the organisation’s ambition to open up Scotland’s canal network to a greater variety of users and complements the £43 million Helix project, which is currently being built just along the canal.
The visitor centre attracts extremely high footfall, with in excess of 480,000 visitors each year. Business is also highly seasonal, with large numbers of visitors during peak periods, which can present challenges to the visitor café in relation to queue management.
Experiencing Scotland’s Catering Consultant Sandra Reid was able to suggest a number of potential solutions, including reviewing the product range to eliminate low selling items and ranges and splitting the queue by providing a dedicated grab and go area.
Another key issue for the catering operation is its lack of identity as part of the Falkirk Wheel as a whole. While the visitor centre has an industrial appearance, elements of the catering space are more rustic.
“Bringing clarity on identity would be beneficial”, says Sandra, “either matching to industrial design with more stainless steel and similar finishes on service ware and presentation, or a farmer’s market style rustic approach, with takeaway foods in ‘brown bag’ packaging, wood and other ‘softer’ materials”.
Other advice included improving the signposting of local suppliers on menus; making more of the unique selling points of the offer; introducing more local goods and seasonality via a limited range of ’specials’ based on local and traditional recipes; and taking a more consistent approach to brand standard on menus, table talkers and other catering marketing materials.
Claire McVeigh from Scottish Canals says: “The report from Experiencing Scotland is very constructive and insightful and we have already started implementing the easier suggestions they came back with. The impartial and independent feedback we received has been particularly beneficial in helping us to develop potential solutions to some of the logistical challenges we face, such as queue management and visitor flow. It has also highlighted the importance of promoting our unique themes and relationships with local suppliers and developing a more consistent approach to branding”.
The brand new Experiencing Scotland website will be launching soon! The site will be the place to go to find out more about how Experiencing Scotland can help your business, read and view case studies on how businesses across Scotland are using and promoting local produce to enhance customer satisfaction and improve their bottom line, and pick up tips on how you can make the most of Scotland’s world-class natural larder.
Look out for more information in the next few weeks.
Focus on Events
To help Scottish companies maximise the business opportunities arising from the world-class events coming to Scotland next year, a wide package of support has been rolled out by the 2014 Food & Drink Team.
Read on for more details.....
2014 Food & Drink
The 2014 Food & Drink team has launched a dedicated website where food and drink businesses can find out about all the opportunities arising from the major events in 2014, how to get involved and the support available.
Scotland will be (even more!) in the spotlight next year with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games; Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and second edition of Homecoming Scotland coming to our shores. With visitors from around the world descending on Scotland there is no better time to demonstrate the fantastic larder is renowned for, both to the Scottish population and visitors from elsewhere in the UK or further afield.
Click here to view the website now!
Grow your business through Scottish events
The Event Ready Producers project aims to help food and drink companies looking to capitalise on the business opportunities presented by Scottish events.
A brand new video story highlights how two of the companies involved - the Juicy Meat Company and Harviestoun Brewery - have benefitted from the support.
Check out the video at www.scottishfoodanddrinkforums.org/resources/event-ready-producers.aspx
For more information on the one-to-one expert business support available through the project, plus lots of great advice on how to work with events, go to www.readyforevents.co.uk
Glasgow Major Events
Glasgow Major Events is a brand new website to help event organisers and tourism businesses make the most of the business opportunities around Glasgow's world-class events programme.
Tourism businesses can use the site to:
• Keep up to date with who'll be visiting the city
• Identify opportunities for increasing sales
• Target your marketing more effectively and diversify your offers
Event organisers can find information about venues, local suppliers who can support your event needs and some of the other facilities you’ll find in the city.
Click here to access the site.
Celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 7th-22nd September
By Scotland Food & Drink
Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is a celebration of the best that Scotland's vibrant larder has to offer.
Boasting more than 220 events last year, the Fortnight offered foraging to farmers' markets, special menus and cookery demonstrations to butchery classes. Managed by Scotland Food & Drink, the Fortnight is the annual celebration of Scottish produce. It offers a great opportunity to shout about what you’re doing with Scottish food and drink and can be interpreted to the needs and activities of individual businesses.
If you’d like to take part, there’s still time! Events can be registered for a listing on the site free of charge at www.scottishfoodanddrinkfortnight.co.uk/join-in-register/register-your-event
This will enable us to map your event and help promote it as part of the Fortnight. We'll also be promoting the Fortnight through our Facebook page facebook.com/eatscottish and Twitter using @ScotFoodFort and #EatScottish, and encourage anyone running an event to get involved with these two forums.
We are currently revamping the free downloadable support materials, and welcome any suggestions for further materials that could be helpful in planning and promoting an event. The Fortnight logo is available free of charge for use in event brochures, on menus, on your website, in social media etc. There is no charge for participation- the Fortnight champions the Scottish produce we’re so proud of and invites businesses to shout about what they’re doing!
In addition, we'll be running competitions throughout the Fortnight, and products/prizes are welcomed for this - competitions will be promoted through the same channels (website, Facebook, Twitter) with, of course, specific mention of all the companies involved, and any events they're linked to.
All aboard for a taste of Scotch lamb
Travellers boarding the CalMac ferry running between Oban and Mull on the 14th June were lucky enough to have local sheep farmers tempting them with tasty bites of delicious Scotch lamb.
Lamb dishes were also on the ferry’s restaurant menu and farmers were on board to tell passengers about the fantastic story of how they produce fresh, tasty lamb in the hills of Argyll and the Islands.
The ferry promotion was set up by the farmer group Argyll Hill Lamb, who provide lambs to Oban-based food service company Forteiths, who in turn supply the lamb to Caledonian MacBrayne’s ferries.
Argyll Hill Lamb’s Fergus Younger said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to remind passengers on this ferry route that sheep farmers in Argyll and the Islands not only produce some of the best tasting lamb in the world, but that it’s being reared and sold right here on their doorstep!
“Scotch lamb is amongst the finest in the world and here in the spectacular hills and mountains of Argyll, we believe we produce some of the best.
“When it comes to a product like Scotch lamb, we think it ticks all the right boxes for our customers. It is naturally reared, produced locally, is packed full of nutrition, tastes great and offers great value. It can meet the demands of everyone, whether they need a quick and easy midweek meal or a Sunday roast – Scotch lamb has it all.
“For us as local sheep farmers, the message to shoppers is simple. We believe we are producing a top quality product to very high standards and by giving the passengers a taste, we hope they will keep supporting local farmers by buying a bit more Argyll hill lamb in the future.”
Is this type of joint promotion something that other producer groups could roll out?
Food for thought
A brief round-up of some of the latest ideas and innovations from around the culinary world.....
Restaurant sells food in edible packaging
The WikiBar in Paris has launched what it describes as a ‘sustainable business’, offering only foods that come in an edible containers.
The bar space centers around a circular bar that serves items such as ice cream, yoghurts and cheese in a skin that keeps the food fresh as well as enabling consumers to eat the products with their hands. Created by Harvard professor David Edwards, the invention uses natural food products in place of plastic packaging – for example, its mango ice cream comes in a skin of coconut, while its vanilla ice cream is wrapped in a peanut-based container. The wrappings are biodegradable but designed to be eaten along with the product inside.
Could this be the future of package-free food?
Flying drone delivers food to restaurant tables
YO! Sushi has developed the iTray, a flying robot that enables restaurants to send food to diners’ tables.
Using a wifi-enabled Drone quadrocopter that is remotely controlled with an iPad, customers at the sushi chain’s Soho branch in London can experience the high-tech waiter service when they order one of the new YO! Burgers. The meals are placed on a tray, which is then loaded onto the drone and directed to the diner’s table using the on-board camera. The device can travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and a distance of 50 yards, and is able to deliver food faster than a typical waiter.
Exploring the Natural Tastes of Iceland (ENTICE)
Nicola Watt, Project Manager with Scottish Enterprise, was one of the participants on the recent ENTICE study visit to Iceland, which was organised to allow food producers with an interest in tourism and tourism professionals involved in food and tourism to experience and learn about food tourism developments in Iceland, share their own experiences and those of Icelandic colleagues.
Nicola says: “The country has seen a 100% increase in visitors from 302,900 in 2000 to 660,000 in 2012 and has a target to grow out of season visitors by 12% per year. Despite a range of places to visit all across Iceland, most visitors currently follow the 300 km so-called ‘Golden Circle’ route from Reykjavik, which takes in Thingvellir, the Gulfoss waterfall and Haukadalur (Geysir and Strokkur geysirs) and the site of the former capital at Skalholt. As well as growing off-season visits, one of the greatest challenges for tourism bosses is therefore how to encourage geographic dispersal.
“With food tourism seen as a major business opportunity, there is an enthusiasm for developing new products and new ways to diversify. For example, Chef Bjarki cooks boiled eggs in the hot springs at Geysir and serves them on rye bread baked in the mud from the hot springs to visitors standing within sight and sound of Strokkur, the live geysir. Cafe Kjöt of Kúst (Earth and Art Cafe) also makes a feature of cooking and baking outside using a geothermal cooker and promotes Icelandic artists on the walls of the cafe.
“The greenhouse project at Fri∂heimar uses both borehole water and geothermal energy to grow tomatoes and cucumbers to sell as produce and to use in making tomato jam, sauces and salsas, as well as tomato soup served in their cafe.
“The dairy farm at Efsti-Dalur, also on the Golden Circle route, is a family business which has been operating for 32 years. In addition to 220,000 litres of milk for sale, they produce 15,000 litres of milk for their own use, which they turn into skyr, butter and ice cream for sale on site. 10 years ago, in response to visitors asking to sleep in their barn, the family opened a small guest house. The tourism side of the business has grown from there to include a coffee shop and restaurant serving home cooked local and home grown produce.
“In June, they opened an ice-cream parlour which is just the other side of the wall from the cow byre. Visitors can look directly through a window at the cows which produce the milk for the ice cream. The family is also enthusiastic about, and keen to share, the musical traditions of Iceland; whenever possible, guests are treated to traditional Icelandic tunes played on the flute and/or accordion as an audio aperitif!
“The visit provided a fascinating insight into how food producers and visitor attractions are taking Iceland’s traditions, the natural geothermal phenomena and local ingredients to create food and drink experiences which are rooted in the local landscape and history”.
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