Friday 27 May 2011

Scotland Food and Drink Chocolate Award

The Highland Chocolatier was announced as the recipient of VisitScotland’s Food Tourism Award at last night's Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards in Dunblane.

Based in Grandtully in Perthshire, The Highland Chocolatier is a chocolate maker with a dedicated chocolate exhibition. The business was praised for its continuous growth over the past 5 years and its innovative expansion to provide a well rounded and year round visitor experience. Above all, the judges were impressed by the obvious passion and quality of the chocolate produced.

Owner, Iain Burnett, said: "It is extremely rewarding, not just for me but for our entire team in Grandtully, to be recognised by such a prestigious and respected organisation as Scotland Food & Drink. Our concept is unique, not only in Scotland but in the UK and although it is tough in such an unsteady financial climate, we are very pleased to be able to fulfil our dreams and win awards whilst we are at it too!"

Representing the diversity of applications for the award, the two other finalists were Waterfront Bar and Seafood Restaurant from Argyll, and Craigie’s (farm delicatessen and cafe) from West Lothian.

The awards were announced at a ceremony for the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel , where guests enjoyed a special menu designed by renowned Scottish chef, Nick Nairn.

Presenting the award, Riddell Graham, Director of Partnerships at VisitScotland, said:

“Food and drink is integral to the experience of visitors to Scotland and these awards have been a wonderful opportunity to build on Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink and our EatScotland quality assurance scheme by highlighting some of Scotland’s food heroes. It’s been great to see so many quality food and drink producers welcoming visitors in such enthusiastic and imaginative ways.“

Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink runs up to the end of May 2011 and VisitScotland sponsors the Food Tourism award in recognition of the importance that food and drink plays in supporting tourism. Figures show that £1 in every £5 spent by a visitor in Scotland is on food and drink-related activity, equating to more than £500 million for UK visitors alone. In March a survey (HPI Brand Tracker survey) showed that, between October and December 2010, there was a 6.5 per cent surge in the number of people who agreed that “Scotland is a country of great food and drink experiences”.

To enter the award, businesses needed to be a quality Scottish food or drink business with authenticity, quality and passion at the centre of their product, as well as emphasising their visitor’s experience. In selecting the three short-listed finalists, the judges were delighted to see the range of food and drink visitor experiences across the length and breadth of Scotland and were impressed with the level of sophistication and excellence in food and drink provision and visitor experience, particularly across rural Scotland.

Earlier this month, The Highland Chocolatier swept the board at the Academy of Chocolate Awards in London with its Velvet Truffles awarded an exceptional two Gold, two Silver and one Bronze for Best Truffle and Best Filled Chocolate categories. The winning recipes included the pure Mild and Dark varieties of the Velvet Truffle, and infusions with Assam Tea & Green Cardamom, Crushed Raspberries & Black Pepper, and White Lime & Chilli.

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