The awards recognise those businesses and individuals who are leading the way in innovation, enterprise and quality in Scotland’s food and drink sector.
A total of 21 categories, including brewing, distilling, own label and – new for 2017 – primary producer of the year, are now open, with entries being encouraged from small, medium and large food and drink producers across the country.
The event is organised by Scotland Food & Drink in partnership with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS).
Scotland Food & Drink chief executive James Withers said: “The Excellence Awards allow us to celebrate some of our very best and highlight to the nation and beyond the strength of Scotland’s leading industry.
“To grow our reputation even further at home and around the world, we must continue to encourage new pioneers within the food and drink industry in this country.
“To further this objective, all awards entrants receive constructive feedback from our panel of expert judges. So, win or lose, our aim is to support the development of all the businesses that enter the awards.”
Voted for by the public and sponsored by The Scotsman, the inaugural Food Pioneer award – which drew in an initial 146 nominations from the public – was last year given to Mr Berkmiller, who runs the L’escargot bleu and L’escargot blanc restaurants and the wine bar Bar à Vin in Edinburgh, in recognition of his dedication to Scottish produce.
When he won the award last June, Mr Berkmiller – a keen ambassador for not only Scottish produce but also the producers – said: “Food Pioneer is indeed a very big title to receive, and one I am so happy to be associated with.
“I am extremely proud and happy to have received such a prestigious reward and feel extremely privileged to live and cook in Scotland.”
The awards celebrate innovation, enterprise and quality in the food and drink scene from businesses across Scotland. Growing year on year, they have become a highly acknowledged accreditation to receive by industry peers, and offer an invaluable platform on which businesses can showcase their quality produce to the nation.
The official ceremony will once again take place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 18 May. More than 800 people are expected to attend and tickets are available from the SFDEA website.
Attendees will be treated to a drinks reception followed by a three-course dinner created from the best of Scotland’s larder.
• Food and drink businesses can enter online at www.foodanddrink.scot/events/excellence-awards until Friday 24 February.