The public vote on our Scotsman Food and Drink site resulted in more than 60 nominees such as Fishbox, Artisan Cheesecakes and street food specialists Chompsky, as well as individuals including John Henderson of Born in the Borders, MasterChef: The Professionals winner Gary MacLean, chef John Molloy, Mark Greenaway and Tony Singh, and Josiah Lockhart of Gorgie City Farm.
After much deliberation, the judging panel made up from members of the team from Scotland Food & Drink and The Scotsman’s editorial staff settled on a shortlist of four candidates that they believe perfectly embody the description of a Food Pioneer.
The nominees are Graham Suttle, restaurateur and co-owner of Kained Holdings; Rachel Hammond, owner of Hammond Charcuterie in the Borders, Tony Reeman-Clark, founder of Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire and Edinburgh-based chef Colin Hinds, who runs the Kilted Lobster and Rib Aye restaurants in the city.
The Scotsman Food Pioneer award is designed to recognise an innovative company or person who has made a ground-breaking impact on Scottish food and/or drink.
In 2016, Edinburgh chef Fred Berkmiller was selected by our panel of judges from more than 50 nominees (chosen by the public) to receive the award in its first year.
This year, the judging panel were impressed by the wide range of individuals and producers nominated by the public and those four chosen to go onto our shortlist represent the many exciting facets of the country’s hugely successful food and drink industry.
Chef Colin Hinds proved popular in the public vote, and his work at both of his Edinburgh-based restaurants, where he uses his 20 years’ experience in the industry working in countries like France, Indonesia and Australia to help showcase the very best of Scotland’s ‘surf and turf’ produce, helped see him chosen as one of our finalists.
Going up against him is self-taught butcher Rachel Hammond, whose hard work has led to Hammond Charcuterie becoming one of the country’s best speciality meat producers, while her dedication to sourcing only the best pork, beef and game from the lush banks of the River Tweed and the green hills and wooded valleys of Berwickshire has seen her producing some truly outstanding products.
Tony Reeman-Clark, who founded the Strathearn Distillery, impressed the judges with his efforts in not only producing innovative products such as the distillery’s successful gin range and the country’s first ever cider brandy but also for his work in helping to launch the Craft Distillers Association, a role in which he has helped to further grow the ties between many of Scotland’s up and coming craft distilleries and helped the Scottish gin industry to become a huge success.
Finally, Graham Suttle was recognised by the panel for his excellent work in building the Kained Holdings portfolio and helping to launch some of Glasgow’s most successful bars and restaurants, including the Finnieston, Porter & Rye and the Lebowski’s bars.
Celebrating innovation and quality in the food and drink scene from businesses across Scotland the Awards have become a highly acknowledged accreditation and offer an invaluable platform on which businesses can showcase their quality produce.
The winner will be announced at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards ceremony and dinner at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Thursday 18 May, the full finalist line-up for the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards will be announced tomorrow.