Join us and the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2017 to celebrate our nation’s Food Pioneers and lend us your expertise to uncover them.

The Scotsman Food Pioneer, a new category created for the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards last year, is designed to recognise an innovative company or person who has made a ground-breaking impact on Scottish food and/or drink.

In 2016, Edinburgh chef Fred Berkmiller was chosen by our panel of judges from more than 140 nominees (chosen by the public) to receive the award in its first year.

Now for 2017, The Scotsman are once again asking for your help to find this year’s Food Pioneer as we ask you to nominate below, those people or companies you believe are at the forefront of Scotland’s food and drink ascendancy.

He or she could be a chef offering a new style of cuisine, someone who’s shaping our culinary landscape or an artisan producer.

If they relish shaking up the Scottish food scene with fresh new ideas, this is the opportunity for them to get recognition for their efforts.

Last year’s nominations included producers, bakers, chocolatiers, foragers and farmers to educationalists, campaigners, suppliers, caterers, cook school proprietors, restaurateurs and chefs.

It could be anyone, at any age, involved at any level across the industry.

All you have to do is select the person or company who fit the criteria below, then enter their details online and the reason you believe they should receive the award.

Each nominee, and your reason for choosing them, will be read and judged by a panel comprising of The Scotsman staff and representatives from Scotland Food & Drink, following the nomination deadline on Friday 24 March.

Your nominee should: Represent the breadth of talent, skill and passion across the industry. Demonstrate passion for Scottish food and drink, be an ambassador for others, a champion of their profession or an innovator driving their sector forward.

Last year, Fred Berkmiller, who owns the restaurants l’escargot bleu and l’escargot blanc and the wine bar bar à vin in Edinbrugh, was named the country’s leading food innovator.

Fred, who has been a keen ambassador for not only Scottish produce, but also the producers, was recognised for his skill and use of Scottish produce as well as his work nurturing young talent, he said: “Food Pioneer is indeed a very big title to receive, and one I am so happy to be associated with.”

James Withers, Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive, said: “The Food Pioneer Award is important to all of us because it rewards someone who is out there leading the way in building Scotland’s reputation.

“Fred Berkmiller was a popular and worthy winner and we hope that this award encourages more people like him.”

The Scotsman will once again be media partner for the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards which take place on Thursday 18 May at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), celebrating innovation, enterprise and quality in the food and drink scene from businesses across Scotland, and growing year on year, the Awards have become a highly acknowledged accreditation to receive, and offer an invaluable platform on which businesses can showcase their quality produce to the nation.

Scottish businesses, which have previously been recognised for their excellence, include the innovative Mara Seaweed; Ian Macleod Distillers of global distribution; historic family business, Graham’s The Family Dairy; and young SME’s such as Magnum Liqueur and Millers Larder. Organised by Scotland Food & Drink in partnership with The Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), the awards recognise the best of Scotland’s food and drink sector across 21 categories.

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