In recent years much work has been done to enhance Scotland’s food and drink experience for visitors and locals. The sector is worth £14.4 billion per year, so it’s no surprise that food and drink has been classed as a priority for the country. Tourism too is a key industry within the Scottish economy, and in 2017 readers of Rough Guides - one of the world’s most popular guidebooks - chose Scotland as the world’s most popular and beautiful visitor destination. It’s exciting to think that people choose to travel from all over the world to explore our cities, hills, glens, and islands.
With this in mind, the STEP team planned a programme of business support events for the food, drink, and tourism sectors in the first week of February. The aim of Food, Drink and Tourism Week was to provide business owners and employees, with the knowledge to improve their skill set, to enhance their offering, and provide opportunities to develop the Forth Valley’s food, drink and tourism sectors.
Jane Nelson from Jane Nelson Interiors kicked off the week with an Interior Design workshop, providing advice to business owners about how to design their space. Jane advised attendees to set a realistic budget, to really think about layout – and to involve staff as they are key:
“The first thing to think about is your entrance. It’s the first impression of your business, so it’s important to get it right,” Jane said.
She also advised sitting in every single seat before opening, because if you don’t like it, then neither will your customers!
Chris Naylor, Managing Director of Stirling business Bespoke Catering & Events shared his expert knowledge whilst delivering a Menu Design workshop on Monday, February 5th. Bespoke’s team pride themselves on exquisite food, and have won Best Caterer at the Confetti Wedding Awards three years in a row now.
Chris’ top five top tips for menu design are:
1. Keep it simple – have a 8-10 item main course. Keep the offering small.
2. Seasonality – it matters, but it’s not as important as it used to be.
3. Look at what your competitors are doing.
4. Customers like to stick to what they know. There’s nothing wrong with a steak pie – as long as it’s done right! Sticky Toffee Pudding is homely. People relate to it.
5. Stay true to what you’re doing.
What’s trending right now?
Local food, street food, and ‘cheap eats’ – cheap cuts done well with a bit of a twist.
Chefs of the Future
Our third Chefs of the Future event, held in Forth Valley College’s Gallery Restaurant, was all about celebrating hospitality stars of the future. Business representatives from the likes of Brea, Deanston Distillery, and many more from the local food and drink sector, turned out to sample mocktails and three courses of delightful dishes, made by Stirling’s hospitality students.
We’ve had fantastic feedback from attendees, including Head Chef of Mhor 84 and Forth Valley College alumnus Marysia Paszkowska, who also spoke on the evening. She tweeted to say:
Celebrating local produce - Food, Drink & Tourism Week highlights
Local produce seems to be more important than ever.
Scotland’s new National Chef Gary McLean, has been appointed to promote local produce. The Masterchef: The Professionals winner (2016), wants to get Scots cooking, and he’d like us to cook with healthy and affordable local produce.
We’ve also heard of the Scottish Government’s plans to set up a £5 million fund to support small local producers. On top of this they’ve said they will publish Scotland’s first national Food and Drink Tourism plan – “recognising the importance of tourism to the sector and the growing interest in our produce.”
It seemed fitting to bring back our Meet The Producers event during Food, Drink & Tourism Week earlier this month, celebrating the fantastic local produce from the Forth Valley and surrounding areas.
Held at Gartmore House near Aberfoyle, we welcomed nine fantastic food and drink producers, including the creators of the world’s best steak and haggis pie, Trossachs Pie and Pastry Company. Campbell’s Bakery from Crieff impressed with amazing breads and sweet treats, and STEP tenants and Food Awards Scotland winners Perthshire Preserves showed off their tempting marmalades and curds.
We met Stirling’s newest coffee grinders Saturn 5 Coffee, who also own and run Stirling’s Burgh Coffeehouse. Lovers of hot drinks also sipped on blended Scottish tea from Killearn business Thom and Tea. For those after something a little stronger, Stirling’s Malt Whisky Agency had the answer.
Strathallan Oats provided samples of their gluten-free oats in flapjack form, and close by was Maley’s Artisan Chocolates from Falkirk. The Extraordinary Sausage Company from Kippen added to the dazzling display, offering samples of their unique extraordinary sausages, which are made from QMS accredited pork, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Kelvin Sim from Dunns Food and Drinks spoke about the benefits of the wholesale market, providing top tips for businesses looking to expand their reach. His top three tips are:
1. Identify your market
Think about the story behind your product and make sure it’s convincing. Why are you passionate about your product? And how can you get customers passionate about it? Your product’s brand story is crucial.
2. Ensure you have sturdy packaging
Ensure your packaging is robust enough to be driven around, and to be put on shelves. It’s very important to get that right. If your product looks squashed when it arrives at the destination point, it’s less likely to sell.
3. Marketing your product
Getting your product out into the wider world is a very difficult thing to do. What resources do you have that can help push your product out to more people? Look at using digital marketing channels like Instagram to help. If you do choose to work with a wholesale food and drink supplier then inform them of any trade enquiries, and work together to get your brand ‘out there’.
Thanks to everyone that joined us for Food, Drink & Tourism Week. We look forward to seeing you again in 2019! Remember – STEP events and workshops are designed to help your business, so if there is anything you would like to see covered in the future please get in touch here.
We’d love to hear from you!