Chef and presenter of C4’s Sunday Brunch, Simon Rimmer, is to host this year’s Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards on 2 June.

Simon Rimmer will host the awards ceremony, which takes place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, in front of a sell-out crowd of 800 guests.

Attendees will be treated to a drinks reception before enjoying a delicious dinner created to showcase the very best of Scotland’s larder.

Best known as presenter of C4’s popular Sunday Brunch and the series Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, this is the first time Simon Rimmer has taken the reins at Scotland’s most prestigious food and drink awards but he is no stranger to Scottish food and drink.

A self-taught cook, Rimmer is the owner of several restaurants but is known across the UK as the chef who cajoles celebrities into cooking on C4’s Sunday Brunch.

Simon, who is looking forward to hosting the event, commented: “My wife is actually from Glasgow and I love coming to Scotland, it’s always good fun.”

“The joy of British food for me now, is that there’s such tremendous regional pride and whenever you go somewhere there’s all these wonderful little differences.  Regional identity has just become so massively important and it’s great to see that pride, there is nowhere you go now that you don’t get something on the menu that isn’t from a local farm or a local supplier.”

The presenter added that it was wonderful to be given the chance to help recognise these producers and their incredible efforts, and when asked what Scottish products he felt stood out, the presenter was keen to emphasise his interest in Scottish food.

“Products like Scotch beef are always wonderful, so is the lamb, and pork and of course, I’m always a sucker for haggis.”

Simon also added that certain Scottish products held special memories for him and that has led to a life-long appreciation.

“I always remember getting Scottish raspberries earlier than anywhere else in the country years ago and always thinking that it didn’t quite ring true with me, you always imagine Scotland as colder and wetter and yet we were always getting these amazing raspberries earlier than anywhere else and that was just a lovely thing.”

He was also keen to highlight the changing attitudes towards Scottish cuisine, saying: “There’s that whole world of kind of clichés about the diets of certain areas being x,y,z and but what you now have in Scotland, and in particular in the big cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, is a tremendous diversity of food.

“People now know there are great restaurants in those cities and everywhere in between, and the fact that places like Glasgow and Edinburgh have won various awards for their food and drink scenes doesn’t surprise me at all.”

48 Scottish food and drink businesses have been shortlisted from over 245 entries for the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016. The finalists represent a broad spectrum of the Scottish food and drink industry including small businesses such as Summerhouse Drinks and Mara Seaweed to bigger players like Border Biscuits, Graham’s The Family Dairy and Stoats.

The awards recognise excellence across 19 entered award categories. Categories include Scottish Sourcing, Environmental Sustainability, Young Talent and Scottish Food and Drink entrepreneur.

Nine product-focused categories are thoroughly judged in a process that includes the scrutiny of packaging, quality of product and taste. In the course of their assessment of the entries, the judges sampled 165 Scottish products ranging from salmon and charcuterie, to lemonade and whisky.

New for this year, the Food Pioneer award (sponsored by The Scotsman) drew an impressive 146 nominations from the public – making it unique in nature from the other categories that are entered by companies and individuals themselves. Judged by a panel of food and drink experts, this award will honour one individual for their pioneering work in the industry.

Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers commented: “The Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards has grown to become the biggest and most prestigious food and drink awards in Scotland and we’re delighted to have Simon Rimmer involved.

“There were record entries to this year’s awards and the shortlist reveals an astonishing display of quality and passion. It is these people, products and practices that make Scotland a Land of Food and Drink.

“It’s an extremely difficult job selecting the winners from such a stand-out list of finalists so we can’t wait to hear Simon make the final announcement on 2 June!”

• The awards are organised by Scotland Food & Drink in partnership with The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). The title sponsor is Asda and the awards are supported by Think Local.

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