Widely considered to be the country’s most prestigious food and drink awards, this month saw 26 producers from across Scotland named winners at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards 2018.

Among them, and beating off some tough competition from the likes of chef Nico Simone of Six By Nico, Bottle of Ginger – a social enterprise based in Glasgow’s east end and Lorna Young of Dumfries and Galloway Food and Drink, was Calum Richardson of the Bay Fish and Chips who became this year’s Food Pioneer.

A fact that the producer from Stonehaven describes as “fantastic”, he said: “Everyone considers these awards to be the Oscars of food and drink here in Scotland, so it’s very humbling to be voted Food Pioneer 2018.”

Richardson added that he was grateful to have even been considered a finalist, considering how tough the competition was for the award, with the judging panel having to narrow down a field of more than 60 nominations, as chosen by the Scotsman’s readers.

Describing the reason for their choice of Calum as their final winner, the judges cited his impressive work with sustainability, sourcing and education, something that is clearly a keystone of his work.

“Sustainability and sourcing, and educating my staff about both, are at the heart of how we run things at The Bay Fish and Chips. I want to challenge the stereotype that our industry can’t be sustainable.

• READ MORE: Calum Richardson of The Bay Fish & Chips on why sustainability is the future for Scotland’s chip shops

“Issues like over-fishing, food waste and your carbon footprint can affect any chippy, but getting to know and trust a responsible MSC-certified supplier and investing in creative ways to manage food waste and compostable packaging really do make all the difference.

“We’re proud of where we’re from at The Bay, and want to make sure we can keep serving up eco-friendly fish suppers for many years to come.”

The founder of The Bay Fish & Chips has made it part of his mission to work alongside as many producers and businesses as he can in the Scottish food and drink industry, so it was particularly exciting for him to see so many faces he recognised amongst the other award winners and finalists.

“My work takes me from America to Japan, so you get a real sense of what we’re doing differently to those markets, and it all comes down to passion, care and quality.

“There were a lot of folk at the awards that I’m also proud to consider my friends, and I think Scotland has one of the most diverse and innovative food and drink industries I’ve ever seen.”

In that he echoed the statement of Scotland Food and Drink’s chief executive James Withers, who thanked the Scottish government on the night of the awards for their commitment to Scotland’s producers, and reiterated Scotland Food and Drink’s continued aim to work tirelessly to promote Scotland as a brand,

Calum said: “I think we’ve always been very proud of our sector, but now we’re starting to see that success being recognised internationally.

“Inspired by our produce at home, or the celebration that is the Scotland Food and Drink awards, or by community around them, more Scots are growing in confidence and making their business ideas come to life.

“The sector is flourishing – we always been grafters, but now I think more and more people are being inspired to actually go out and do something with their ideas.”

As Scotland’s Food Pioneer, what message does he have for those involved in the sector?

“Wherever we can, we must promote sustainability and locality moving forward – there’s so much great produce on our doorstop and we have a responsibility to promote that by using nearby suppliers wherever possible.

“It’s time to shake off the negative stereotypes attached to Scottish food and drink. There’s a wealth of fine- dining here in Scotland, but I see a lot of smaller, more ‘every day’ businesses here raising the bar with quality end products – whether that’s a fish supper or a loaf of bread from the local baker – and that’s something we can all take pride in.”

The Food Pioneer stated that he loves what he does and that he is looking forward to continuing to helping to promote Scottish food and drink wherever he can

“We’re going to be doing what we’ve always done – visiting schools, educating the next generation, keeping our sector thriving, encouraging people to pursue careers in sustainable catering, and cooking really, really good food.”

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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