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Fine dining and events experts Sodexo Prestige ensured the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards lived up to billing, by serving guests a menu featuring ingredients from shortlisted finalists.
Celebrating innovation and quality and run in partnership with The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, the event awarded 20 awards including those for best meat, dairy and drinks product, as well as categories including Lifetime Achievement in Food & Drink.
Held at the newly refurbished Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, this year’s awards saw Sodexo Prestige, the corporate dining, hospitality and events division of Sodexo, ensuring the best in Scottish quality was on the menu, as well as on the awards shortlist.
The menu remained a closely-guarded secret until guests were treated to a four course meal, conceived and designed by Trevor Garden and Stephen Frost, both executive chefs in Scotland with Sodexo.
Each dish was created from outstanding and locally-sourced produce, many of which were entered into the awards or have been either finalists or winners in previous years.
Stephen said: “Every year the quality of the entrants in these awards is incredibly high. It really is the best possible showcase for the wonderful food produced in Scotland.
“Everyone involved in the awards is not only extremely knowledgeable, but also very discerning. So making sure the menu we put on was fitting for such an audience was a real challenge and quite a thrill.
“At Sodexo we are passionate about food and quality ingredients and committed to sustainable and locally sourced produce. These awards are something we feel a great affinity with, since they reflect our own beliefs.
“Once again Scotland has demonstrated why it is an international food and drink frontrunner, with both fantastic products and businesses and we feel privileged to have been involved in its celebration.”
Kicking off the evening’s food celebration were a range of canapés including some made using venison chorizo from Great Glen Game, which sources venison from estates located in the Great Glen of Scotland.
The first course of ballotine rabbit with quail egg salad was finished with a dressing made using rapeseed oil from Arran-based Stark Produce Ltd. It was accompanied by an apple juice jelly created from Scottish Borders-based Cuddybridge Apple Juice, shortlisted for an award on the night.
To follow, guests were treated to Loch Etive smoked trout, from Inverawe Smokehouse, accompanied by Stornoway peat smoked scallops from the award-nominated Hebridean Smokery.
A main course of slow roasted belly of pork used meat sourced from Robertson’s in Ayrshire, a west coast family-operated firm, which has been delivering quality pork and bacon since 1870.
To round off the meal a vanilla pannacotta was accompanied by a strawberry and Champagne nage made from strawberries sourced in the Clyde Valley.
Ensuring the evening ended on the same sustainable and locally sourced note as it began, coffee was served accompanied by chocolates from In House Chocolates, made by Gillian Houston in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway.
400 guests from Scotland’s food and drink businesses large and small attended the awards.
Sophie Fraser, Marketing Manager for Scotland Food & Drink, said: “This year’s Excellence Awards were a great success in large part thanks to the Sodexo Prestige team who understood the brief to create a menu which celebrated the best of Scottish produce for 400 fellow industry professionals to enjoy.
“The menu reflected our shared passion of Scotland as a Land of Food and Drink and was one of the highlights of the awards’ evening.
“We’re delighted to continue our working relationship with Sodexo and pleased that they recognise the value in supporting the Foodservice Product of the Year category.”
As well as awards celebrating bespoke products, awards were also handed out for categories such as Food & Drink Tourism, Environmental Sustainability and Business of the Year.
Sodexo Prestige partners with 17 top class venues in Scotland – and 50 across the UK – including the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Hampden Park Stadium and both Hamilton Park and Perth Racecourse. It also provides catering hospitality for The Open Championship, one of the world’s biggest golfing events.