The cream of the crop of Scotland’s food and drink industry descended on Edinburgh this week for the inaugural Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.

The event, which gathered together some of the industry’s most celebrated chefs, restaurateurs, and establishments, saw more than a dozen prizes awarded to those outstanding in their field.

From cafes and farm shops through to city centre pubs and food writer, the accolades brought nationwide recognition for some of the industry’s most talented companies and individuals.

More than 200 people turned out for last night’s event, held at the capital’s Corn Exchange venue, which saw those in attendance enjoy a Scottish street food themed meal before the prizegiving ceremony, hosted by veteran broadcaster, Stephen Jardine, got underway.

Scotsman Food and Drink Awards

There was a great response for the Street Food themed meal. Picture: TSPL

The Scotsman editor Frank O’Donnell was delighted not only by the abundance of quality nominations for the awards but also the chance to once again highlight Scotland’s burgeoning food and drink sector, which he feels will have a huge part to play in helping to grow Scotland’s economy, he said: “We are thrilled to not only showcase all of the amazing winners and finalists but also to recognise the hard work and passion shown by the men and women who, in my mind, don’t get enough praise for making this industry what it is.”

Glasgow-based Nico Simeone, whose Finnieston favourite, Six By Nico, has quickly won acclaim for its constantly changing tasting menu, won the Most Innovative Chef award. Mr Simeone, who has worked in some of Scotland’s finest Michelin star restaurant, was praised by judges for his innovative and unique menu offerings.

Members of the public, who voted for the Hidden Gem prize, chose as their winner Loch Arthur Creamery and Farm Shop, a community led project and social enterprise in Dumfries.

Around 2,000 votes were cast for the award, with more than a quarter going the way of Loch Arthur, which has a traditional butchery and creamery on site.

There was also recognition for Donnie Montgomery and Raymond Barnett, the duo behind Boys Eat Scotland, who have built up a dedicated online following thanks to their detailed and innovative restaurant reviews. They were named winners of the Most Dedicated Food Blogger award.

The awards were launched by The Scotsman as a way of recognising ambassadors for Scottish produce, as well as those who have helped innovate and modernise the country’s cuisine.

In all, prizes were given out across 13 categories, with other winners including the Galashiels-based Tempest Beer, IQ Chocolate in Stirling, Ardross Farm Shop in East Neuk, and The Big Feed, an indoor street food market in Glasgow which donates a portion of its income to local charities.

Mr Jardine was part of a six-strong judging panel tasked with assessing nominations received from around the country. The panel also included chef, Mark Greenaway, food writer, Sue Lawrence, and Kirsty Black, head distiller at Arbikie Highland Estate.

Mr. Jardine said: “Scotland is experiencing a food and drink revolution at the moment and the awards ceremony really reflected that. The old home of the deep fried Mars Bar is now a vibrant land of good and drink with amazing chefs, brilliant producers and incredible places to eat.

“These people are at the forefront of the changes taking place and the Awards represent well deserved recognition for all their hard work and enthusiasm. The list of winners is an A to Z of the very places to eat and drink in Scotland right now”.

Camila Das Gupta of Social Bite, the charity partner for the event, said: “Social Bite are delighted to be the chosen charity partner for the Scotsman Food & Drink Awards 2017. This is a very innovative time for the charity with many upcoming projects, so the support we receive from the wider community is immeasurable.

“This is a wonderful way to merge our initiative with the importance of quality Scottish food and drink.”

The full list of winners: 

Best Craft Beer

Tempest Brew Co

Scotland’s brewery of the year last year, and a finalist this year, Tempest has consistently challenged perceptions of what Scottish beer can be and continued to the push the boundaries of not just their own beers but also, by collaborating with other breweries, that of the whole Scottish brewing scene.

They were praised by our judges not only for their innovative products but also their desire and commitment to creating some of the best beers around, while special mention was given to their Oktoberfest and Springfest events which provide an opportunity for fans to enjoy beers at their brewery in Galashiels.

Best Craft Cider

Waulkmill Cider

Described as Scotland’s “only real Cider Mill” and based within the Eskdale Valley in Dumfries and Galloway, Waukmill Cider was born in Sept 2010 and has over the past seven years continued to champion Scotland’s growing real cider scene.

The judges felt that their sourcing of locally grown Scottish apples and pears – of which there are approximately 23 different Scottish Heritage varieties – and their decision to use chemical free processing to create their cider and perry range was exemplary.

They were described by one person that nominated them as “a success story of hard work, innovation and craftsmanship”.

Best Cocktail Bar

Kelvingrove Cafe

Picture: TSPL

Founded by the legendary mixologist and brand ambassador Mal Spence in 2013, the Kelvingrove Café remains at the forefront of Glasgow’s exciting mixology scene and offers one of the best places in the city to grab a cocktail.

Facing some stiff competition from a strong field of finalists, Kelvingrove Café stood out for their consistent use of seasonal produce, knowledgeable staff, dedication to even the smallest details – such as their ice being cut in house using traditional 14-inch Japanese ice saws – and the fact they have played a huge part in the revival of the mixed drinks scene in the city.

Use of Scottish Produce – Sponsored by Scottish Salmon

Ardross Farm Shop

Located in the picturesque East Neuk of Fife, the Pollock family set up the Ardross farm shop in 2005 and since then it has grown into one of the region’s most popular.

Chosen by the readers for its amazing array of homegrown produce which includes its own beef, lamb, and honey as well as an incredible 52 different varieties of vegetables, the judges felt that it was the entry that best fulfilled the criteria and that the shop’s commitment to reducing food miles and promoting Fife produce to both visitors and locals alike was to be applauded.

Best Scottish Spirit

Arbikie – Kirsty’s Gin

Picture: TSPL

The second spirit to be released by Arbikie following the launch of their popular potato vodka, Kirsty’s Gin is described as Scotland’s first farm to bottle gin and has gained a huge following since its release.

Inspired by the environment of the distillery and the Angus region, Kirsty’s Gin uses three traditional Scottish botanics – Kelp, Carline Thistle and Blaeberrys (all of which grow wild in the Angus area) – and is named after Arbikie’s head distiller Kirsty Black.

Gaining immediate recognition for its smooth taste and balanced use of botanicals, it has won medals at several international spirits events.

Best Street Food

The Big Feed

Picture: TSPL

The Big Feed is putting street food firmly on the map in Glasgow, providing a creative space for some of the country’s best up-and-coming vendors as well as donating a portion of its income to local charities.

The indoor street food market, which can be found in a warehouse in Govan, won out due to their overall ability to offer an experience that caters for everyone with stands featuring everything from fried chicken and seafood to vegan cuisine and flavoursome desserts, while there are also bars and pop-ups for coffee, beer and prosecco, and plenty of entertainment to keep the whole family happy.

Most Innovative Chef – Sponsored by Corn Exchange Edinburgh

Six by Nico – Nico Simeone

Having previously worked as a chef in some of Scotland’s finest Michelin star restaurants, Nico Simeone found massive success with his Kelvinside venture, 111 By Nico, but it’s his latest project Six By Nico, in which he and his team deliver a tasting menu that changes every six weeks and sees guests taken on a delicious adventure through a variety of exciting themes, that won him recognition by our judges.

All of the panel agreed that the constantly evolving restaurant concepts of Six By Nico offered something truly innovative and unique and helped make the Glasgow-based chef stand out in what was a very strong category.

Best Cafe

KitschnBake 

Nominated for their exciting and inventive cakes, the Newport-on-Tay based café were recognised for working closely with other local artisan producers and providing some of the best homemade baking to be found in the local area.

The panel decided that a focus on community was key to whichever nomination would eventually win this award and though there was a lot of debate surrounding the entries it was agreed that KitschBake was by far the strongest candidate, both in its use of local produce and as a focal point for residents in the area.

Your Hidden Gem

Loch Arthur Creamery and Farm Shop

Loch Arthur impressed many of our readers not only because of its outstanding produce, but also on account of its incredible work with men and women with learning disabilities.

Their farm shop, which opened in November 2012, includes a traditional butchery selling Loch Arthur meat, displays of carefully sourced organic produce including their own grown seasonal vegetables where available, and an artisan bakery producing fresh loaves, cakes and treats.

While the award-winning cheeses created in their onsite creamery can be found in shops all across the country

The Dumfries based community-led project and social enterprise was far and away the most popular entry in our publically voted Hidden Gem category, with particular praise given to manager Barry Graham for his excellent work in creating a “wonderful ethos focussed on community, sustainability and creating a vibrant and supportive environment for people to work in”.

Most Dedicated Food Blogger

Boys Eat Scotland

One of our most exciting categories, the Most Dedicated Food Blogger award celebrated those hardworking men and women who work tirelessly in their spare time to promote Scotland’s amazing food and drink scene.

Boys Eat Scotland were chosen from a strong shortlist of nominations for their exhaustive research across Scotland, with travel recommendations, detailed restaurant reviews, and previews for events across the country all making it on their hugely detailed website.

Bloggers Donnie & Raymond were praised by our judging panel for their strong presence across all of their social media platforms, while those who nominated them were also keen to point out their willingness to engage with people on their Facebook page.

Their adaptability, willingness to work with others in the blogger community and use of other media such as video for their blogs was also judged to be other major factors which helped them stand out from the other nominees.

Most inspirational creation

IQ Chocolate (Stirling)

Picture: TSPL

This innovative brand has been producing quality chocolate since 2013. It is nut and dairy free and is suitable for vegans. The high fibre, organic bean-to-bar chocolates come in an exciting range of flavours including orange and wild raspberry, lime, espresso and peppermint.

Based in Stirling, their healthy chocolate bars won a Great Taste Gold Award in 2012 and continues to go from strength to strength.

The judges felt that IQ’s innovative use of flavours, pricing and accessibility of the product to many different types of consumer made it the stand-out nominee.

Best Dining Experience

Ondine

With a serious commitment to sustainable Scottish seafood, Ondine has become something of an institution in the capital, serving some of the best seafood dishes you’ll find in the city since 2009, which, considering the competition, is no mean feat.

Lauded for their high-end dining experience by the likes of Jay Rayner and Andrew Fairlie, Ondine was chosen by the panel for its excellent service, enjoyable atmosphere and a menu which features an extensive array of Scotland’s top seafood including Loch Fyne oysters, Barra cockles and Eyemouth lobsters, all expertly cooked by patron chef Roy Brett and his team.

Best Vegetarian

Food Story

With a focus on community, Aberdeen’s Foodstory was conceived in 2013 as a space where anyone can come and enjoy fresh, healthy food. Started via a Kickstarter and with a quirky interior of salvaged furniture, odd chairs and a vintage Monington & Weston piano, Foodstory is ideal for relaxed dining.

With a menu that caters for all (and is constantly changing), from vegan lasagne to gluten-free vegan scones, the cafe showcases healthy, tasty, ethical and organic Scottish produce at its best.

It is this varied menu, which gives diners a greater choice of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, plus the use of local suppliers, which saw Foodstory win out in the Best Vegetarian Restaurant category.

Best Local Pub

Kays Bar

Edinburgh favourite Kays Bar is the kind of local that is universally loved, with great service combined with an amazing selection of real ales and whiskies.

With its unassuming frontage and charming Victorian interior, Kays was nominated for its dedication to its cask ale offering, the atmosphere on match days (rugby that is, not football), diverse clientele and welcoming staff.

Those who put it forward praised it for its lack of music – making for better conversation – and homely bar grub, while the judges believed it was a shining example of the type of local everybody knows and loves.

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things whisky-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over six years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink.

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