Preview: What to expect at this year's Royal Highland Show

David Peters, MD of Saltire Hospitality Ltd., gives us a preview of what to expect at this year’s Royal Highland Show, which takes place this week at Ingliston from 23rd to 26th June.

Published 23rd Jun 2016
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

“This will be the sixteenth year as officially appointed caterer to the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, who organise the Royal Highland Show. We were so pleased to win the original catering contract after fighting off stiff competition from several multi-national companies.

I’ve been involved with the Royal Highland Show in one way or another for nearly thirty years, and it’s inspiring to see how it has developed during that time.

Visitor Numbers

Each year thousands of people flock to the show to see, taste and experience the very best of Scottish farming, rural life and importantly, food. This year around 200,000 people are expected to attend by Sunday; our biggest show yet and it is a privilege for Saltire Hospitality to be part of it.

The Producers

We take great pride in showcasing the exquisite larder that Scotland has to offer, working with suppliers from around the country, sourcing the best produce we can find. Whether it’s Cows & Co artisan cheese from Ayrshire, milk from Bonaly Dairy just outside of Edinburgh, the finest Hebridean Salmon exclusively supplied by the Scottish Salmon Company or hand crafted cakes and bakery products from our sister company Saltire Patisserie which had its best year yet last year. Ian Blackley, our Bakery Director now leads a team of 14 talented bakers and patisserie chefs.

Every year we actively work with producers to champion their produce, and we go to great lengths to ensure that we bring the very best of Scottish-sourced produce to the show.

Peter Flockhart the director of Campbell’s Prime Meats, the official meat supplier at Saltire Hospitality, recently took Bran, our Culinary Director, and myself on fact-finding mission on the supply chain from farm to fork. We travelled to Finzean Estate in Royal Deeside to meet Laird Andrew Farquharson and learn more about his cattle herd which we source beef from. The 4,000-hectare estate has been in the family for 400 years and they won the best newcomer award in the North of Scotland Grassland Society competition.

We followed the supply line from the farm to the the auction market at Inverurie, the largest in the UK and then on to the Scotbeef abattoir.

As the official caterer to the UK’s biggest agricultural show, it is so important to know the process involved, to see first-hand the attention to detail and know the traceability of the product. Especially when you are serving Scotland’s finest farmers at the The Royal Highland Show, they definitely want to know who’s herd they are eating from!

Scottish Produce

Following on from 2015’s triumphant Year of Food & Drink, we’re more proud than ever to be serving up food from Scotland’s fantastic larder of some of the finest naturally healthy produce in the world. Our foodie chefs are constantly developing recipes to reflect this, devising dishes to allow produce to really shine.

We serve many different types of food and drink across our food outlets at the show. From Prosecco bars, to a more formal private dinning area in the Members’ Area, our Eats & Treats Cafe in association with Tarbert Fine Foods and Halls Of Scotland and we recommend our ever-popular strawberry tarts hand crafted by our own Saltire Patisserie.

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Looking back over the years, there have been so many highlights. We are a family business, and it was a real treat when my daughter Becky served HM The Queen in the President's’ Marquee in 2009. For myself, sometimes the most memorable moments from any year are those when we’ve really triumphed in the face of adversity!

Whether it’s power and water supplies failing during peak times, to raging storms, or beer pumps failing, the team always manages to kick things into hyper-gear to resolve problems as quickly as possible. From the brigade of chefs, to the bakers up at 3am, to the front of house service team; we’d be nothing without them! We pride ourselves on excellent service and we want visitors to experience the very best hospitality at the show.

This week will be the busiest one yet for team here at Saltire, for what is expected to be the biggest Royal Highland Show ever. But we won’t have much time to put our feet up as we will be off to the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace which begins on Friday 1st July. Maybe we will see you there too!”

Saltire Hospitality at Royal Highland Show 2016 - In Numbers

• 260 staff from dedicated Saltire Hospitality will be working each day of RHS (an additional 200 on top of their normal full-time team of 60)

• 800 punnets of Scottish strawberries will be served across the board, and that doesn’t include the ones in our Strawberry Tarts!

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• 100 joints of 45-day dry-aged prime Scottish sirloin beef will be roasted and served

• 150 sides of fresh Scottish salmon will be served

• 200 crates of ice cubes will be used in drinks in the bars

• 1 whole hog roast will be enjoyed each night in the members’ area

• 4,000 Strawberry Tarts

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• 3,000 quality Scotch beef burgers

• 8,000 bacon rolls

• 2500 free range eggs in our egg and cress sandwiches

• 1 Saltire cow – called Sally! Find her at the show and post a selfie with Sally @saltirefood or /saltirehospitality to win some top prizes using hashtag ‪#‎SaltireSally‬

Everything you need to know about the Royal Highland Show: Updated for 2017

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