Winners of Williamson Foodservice Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards Celebrate with Top Chef Nick Nairn

Nick Nairn, Scotland’s top chef and a champion of local produce, congratulated the winners in the 2010 Williamson Foodservice Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards as the names were revealed at a glittering ceremony and dinner in Inverness tonight (Friday 29 October).

The Awards celebrate excellence and achievement within the food and drink industry and are sponsored by Williamson Foodservice, organised by the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum, and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Ten Awards recognise categories including best use of local food and drink, healthier food and drink, good environmental practice, innovation, businesses working in collaboration with each other, as well as new products and new businesses and the popular Taste of the Highlands & Islands Restaurant of the Year Award.

The Excellence Award, reserved by the judging panel to recognise and reward excellence in any category or for one particular entry, was presented to The Waterfront Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Oban. Established almost a quarter of a century ago, The Waterfront Seafood Restaurant and Bar has developed and evolved to become renowned for its fresh seafood, meat and garden produce, its dynamic and diverse menus, first class service and stunning views across Oban Bay. In recent years, The Waterfront Restaurant has extended its role within the community with cookery demonstrations, tours and training and is committed to taking excellence in tourism, healthy eating, customer experience and cookery skills to another level.

The Awards Dinner was hosted by BBC Scotland’s popular presenter, Catriona Shearer. Over 250 guests enjoyed a delicious menu at the Dinner featuring mouthwatering venison, crab, scallops, pork, fish and vegetables. The produce has been generously provided by suppliers across the Highlands and Islands including Williamson Foodservice, the Dores Inn, Highland Fish, Murdoch Brothers Butcher and Hallgarten Druitt.

Nick Nairn, who opened his first restaurant over 20 years ago and became the youngest chef in the country to be awarded a Michelin star, said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to address the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards and acknowledge the huge contribution food and drink businesses make to the region. The Highlands and Islands has some of the best produce in Scotland, and therefore the world, and the 30,000 people involved in the growing, supplying and cooking this produce for local and international consumption are second to none. They deserve these Awards to celebrate their achievements and I’m very much looking forward to meeting just a few of them on the night.”

Gary Williamson, managing director of Williamson Foodservice and title sponsor of the event, said:  “Food and drink is extremely important for the Highlands and Islands economy and Williamson Foodservice is pleased to have the opportunity to support and celebrate quality in this vital industry. As chair of the judging panel for the Awards, it is very encouraging to see consistently high standards of entries from year to year. Congratulations to all companies who have made the shortlist tonight – this is a fantastic achievement and an acknowledgement of the excellent people and products involved in the industry across the area.”

Chris Taylor of Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “We are proud to support the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink awards since their inception in 2005.  Many winners have gone on to develop their business in markets across the UK and abroad and the record number of entries in 2010 demonstrates the ambition of everyone involved in this great industry. These awards are an invaluable showcase of the very best the Highlands and Islands has to offer and congratulations to all the nominees”.

Anne Moseley, co-chair of the Highlands & Islands food & Drink Forum, said: “As organisers of the Awards, the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Forum are delighted to see a continued increase in the number of entries, reflecting both the value of Awards to our businesses and the dynamism and high standards of our industry. All individuals and businesses who made the shortlist this year have done really well in the face of stiff competition, and special congratulations are due to all of tonight’s winners.

Anne continued: “The Forum’s Awards are just one way the forum can serve the food and drink industry and its supply chain. Looking to the future, we need to ensure that the organisation works closely with industry to extend opportunities for everyone, share knowledge and provide platforms to encourage collaboration. To become involved, contact us at chair@hifoodanddrinkforum.com.”

The winners of the 2010 Williamson Foodservice Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards are as follows:

Best Use of Local Food and Drink Award, sponsored by John M Munro 
Waterfront Seafood Restaurant and Bar
1 Railway Pier, Oban, Argyll, PA23 4LW www.waterfrontoban.co.uk
The Waterfront Seafood Restaurant and Bar has been established in Oban for almost 25 years, during which time it has developed and evolved to become renowned for its fresh seafood, meat and garden produce, its dynamic and diverse menus, first class service and stunning views across Oban Bay. In recent years, The Waterfront Restaurant has extended its role within the community with cookery demonstrations, tours and training and is committed to taking excellence in tourism, healthy eating, customer experience and cookery skills to another level.

Distance No Object Award, sponsored by HSBC 
Orkney Fishermen's Society Ltd
Garson Industrial Estate, Stromness, Orkney, KW16 3JU www.ofsorkney.co.uk
The OFS is a fishermen’s co-operative with the UK’s largest crab processing factory and exporting live shellfish. Annual purchases are over 2000 tons of brown crab, 250 tons of velvet crabs and 50 tons of lobster. While UK retail provides the outlet for most of the processed crabmeats from the factory, some 40% of the business’ turnover comes from exports – to traditional markets such as France, Spain, Italy and Norway, and increasingly to the far-east – to Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore.

Environment Award sponsored by Tio Ltd 
Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island
Benderloch, By Oban, Argyll, PA37 1SD www.eriska-hotel.co.uk
The Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island is located on a private island near Oban, connected to the mainland by a small bridge. Our food and beverage team have worked hard to build lasting relationships with local suppliers which has allowed us to provide the best, fresh, local produce for our guests to enjoy whilst enabling us to change our menus on a daily basis. Meanwhile, we continue to monitor our daily waste in a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, which will ultimately lead to sustainable business practices throughout our business.

Healthier Food and Drink Award, sponsored by Robert Wiseman Dairies 
Tio Ltd
13 Greshop Road, Forres, IV36 2GU www.tio.co.uk
“This is Organics” Ltd or you might know them as Tio Ltd, are the only fully dedicated organic root vegetable suppliers to retail supermarkets. Tio supply the entire UK, 365 days a year, from our £5m bespoke pack house in Forres, with organic crops (carrots, parsnips, swede) packed for Tesco and grown by their farm, Mid Coul Farm in Dalcross and their other growing partners in Moray, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and further afield. In late 2009, as part of Tio’s diversification plan and business expansion into prepared and ready to eat organic vegetable products, Tio now supply 650,000 school children every week with Scottish organic carrots portions as part of the NHS 5-a-Day Schools (free) fruit and vegetable scheme (SFVS).

Innovation Award, sponsored by Scotland Food & Drink 
Saladworx
Mill Farm, Proncycroy, Dornoch, IV25 3NB www.saladworx.co.uk
At Saladworx we grow, harvest and distribute a unique mix of 80 different varieties of salad leaves, herbs and edible flowers delivered directly to hotels, restaurants and retail outlets. Our product is harvested and delivered on the same day. All our leaves are grown naturally, for flavour, colour and appearance. Our range has extended to a bespoke growing facility. We compliment our salad mix by supplying a variety of fresh culinary herbs.

New Business Award, sponsored by J&D Cowper and JBT Transport 
Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK Ltd
Gremista, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0PX www.shetland-products.com
We are Shetland’s leading Scottish Salmon producer – supplying whole Scottish Salmon, fillets and portions to the UK, EU and Worldwide markets. We have also developed our unique retail brand of WildWaters Scottish Smoked Salmon, Gravadlax and Fresh Salmon products. The new range was developed with the opening of our brand-new Smokehouse in April 2009. Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK Ltd is made-up of four vertically integrated companies that farm, process and market our products; all based in Lerwick.

New Product Award, sponsored by Polaris Learning Ltd 
Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd – Citrus and Black Pepper Infused Scottish
Smoked Salmon
Clachan, Cairndow, Argyll, PA26 8BL www.lochfyne.com
Loch Fyne Oysters was established in 1978 and is now an internationally renowned producer and retailer of sustainably produced oysters, mussels, smoked products and seafood. Loch Fyne started with one inspirational idea – to grow oysters in the clear waters of Loch Fyne. This has now developed into a cluster of businesses whose success is built on an honest approach to quality food. All Loch Fyne businesses abide by the guiding environmental principles established from the outset by its founders, and were one of the first to place emphasis on sourcing sustainable seafood.

Partnerships for Success Award, sponsored by C2 Cultivating Collaboration Project 
Wester Ross Fisheries
PO Box 6075, Nairn, IV12 5WW www.wrs.co.uk
Wester Ross Fisheries was established in 1977 and is now a fully integrated salmon farming company with all stages of the production process, from egg to fully prepared salmon fillet being undertaken by our staff. We currently employ 50 local people, with a seasonal increase to 60 people during the summer. Wester Ross operates freshwater farms and seawater farms on the North West coast and a processing facility in Dingwall, allowing next day delivery throughout the UK and Western Europe. We operate to the highest welfare standards, ensuring that all our farming activities meet the stringent requirements laid down by the RSPCA Freedom Food standards.

 
Taste of the Highlands and Islands Restaurant of the Year Award, sponsored by The Press & Journal 
Crannag Bistro, Bonar Bridge
Dornoch Road, Bonar Bridge, Sutherland, IV24 3EB www.crannag.com
In 1997 Ian and Kathy Smith created the Caledonian Curry Company in Bonar Bridge incorporating local ingredients in convenient Highland ready meals. In 2005 the couple started to renovate a derelict building in the village to create a restaurant promoting the wonderful array of local produce more directly. The Crannag Bistro, named after the Time Team discovery in Loch Migdale, opened in 2007 and offers diners a taste of the remote Kyle of Sutherland in relaxed and comfortable surroundings. The small, local menu always features a curry, but focuses on classic bistro dishes including rillettes, cassoulets, terrines and baked desserts.

EXCELLENCE AWARD – Waterfront Seafood Restaurant and Bar

This special award is reserved by the judging panel to recognise and reward excellence in any category or for one particular entry. It is not open for general entry: candidates will be selected by the judging panel from entries received across all categories.

Highly Commended – Comfort Foods.
Comfort Foods is a family run business in the heart of Rosemarkie, where everyone receives a warm welcome. Not only is it a butcher / greengrocer / delicatessen, but it also sells a large variety of homemade meals and pies, wines and spirits, confectionary, honeys and preserves and much much more. It is a haven for lovers of good food and drink.

Contact: Alison Bell
Phone: 07765 2426868
Email: alison@smallcreek.co.uk
Website: http://www.smallcreek.co.uk