Celebrating Scotland’s best chefs, producers and suppliers, the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards are set to return to the capital this May with one of the UK’s top restaurant critics announced as host.
Jay Rayner, who writes for The Observer and is a regular judge on Masterchef, also cast his eyes over the entrants as a guest judge, as more than 50 businesses from across Scotland celebrate being named as finalists for the prestigious awards event.
The annual awards, now in their 20th year, received a record 320 entries across all categories, up 20 per cent from last year. Most notably, the distilling category saw its entries more than double, from 18 in 2018 to 41 this year.
The organisers say that the popular awards have been restructured for 2019 to focus on the standout products driving value and consumer choice in the market in line with the overarching Ambition 2030 strategy to double the value of the industry.
Winners from all 19 categories will be announced in front of 800 guests at the prestigious awards ceremony and dinner, hosted by Jay Rayner, on Thursday 23 May at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh.
Showcasing innovation, enterprise and, above all else, excellence, on the Scottish food and drink scene, the finalists include some of the country’s top brands, such as Mackie’s of Scotland, Graham’s the Family Dairy, Bidfood Scotland, Brakes Scotland, Aldi, Lidl, and iconic restaurant The Three Chimneys.
Alongside these well-known names, the shortlist includes some of Scotland’s most exciting up-and-coming producers such as East Coast Cured, Kinrara distillery, Left Field Kombucha and brewers Six Degrees North.
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Every year the Excellence Awards attracts an incredibly diverse range of entrants, all of which are of a very high quality. This year we’ve had a record number of entries and the standard has never been higher.
“While tasting each of the products entered into the awards sounds like a dream, in reality, selecting the very best of the best has been extremely difficult for our expert judging panel.
“Now celebrating its 20th year, the Awards will yet again be the premier night in one of Scotland’s most valuable and successful industries. Congratulations and good luck to all the finalists.”
Host Jay Rayner said: “Scotland has long been a leader in promoting itself through the quality of its food and drink offering, much of which leads the pack. I am thrilled to be the host and judge of the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards, not least for the opportunity it presents to see the very best of what’s on offer.”
Kevin McBride, Vice President for Scotland at Asda, said: “Asda is proud to support the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards in its 20th year and to help celebrate the exceptional quality and innovation in Scotland’s thriving food and drink industry.
“At Asda, we recognise the importance of Scottish sourcing for our customers and our suppliers, and the Awards are an opportunity to showcase the talented individuals and businesses who are driving this national success story.”
• For the full line-up of finalists, please visit: excellenceawards.foodanddrink.scot/2019-finalists