With four local businesses all in the running for a prestigious award, food and drink producers from across the country are being encouraged to put themselves forward.
Three farm shops in Fife and a local food market are celebrating having been named as finalists in the Great British Food Awards.
Balgove Larder near St Andrews, Ardross Farm Shop located between Elie and St Monans, and The Buffalo Farm in Kirkcaldy, have all been shortlisted in the Best Farm Shop & Deli in Scotland category, alongside Billingtons of Lenzie and Valvona & Crolla in Edinburgh.
Bowhouse in the East Neuk of Fife has also been named as a finalist in the Food Market category, while Edinburgh business I.J. Mellis was shortlisted among the Best Cheesemongers in the UK.
The Great British Food Awards are hosted annually as a celebration of Britain’s finest produce and services, and are judged by some of the biggest names in food and drink, including Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin, Michel Roux Jr, Raymond Blanc and The Hairy Bikers.
Now organisers are calling for entries from Scottish food producers across a range of categories – covering everything from baking, to dairy, confectionary, alcoholic and soft drinks to meat and fish, and more – before the closing date of July 13.
Readers of the Great British Food Magazine, which organises the awards, have nominated their favourites across a list of categories covering food retailers, restaurants and pubs, cookery schools, books and chefs. The top five in each category will now be put to the public vote, with a £5,000 prize incentive.
The panel of high-profile judges will choose the other category winners, with an overall champion chosen by awards sponsor Booths Supermarket.
For the Fife farm shops who have already been named as finalists, the accolade couldn’t have come at a better time. Nikki Storrar, manager of Ardross Farm shop, said: “It’s our 15th birthday this year and to be nominated for such a fantastic award at the same time means a huge amount to the whole team here at Ardross. With everything that has been happening over the past few months it has brought a huge smile to our faces and put the bounce back in our step after weeks of long hours and hard work.
“Working with hundreds of small, local suppliers means we spend many hours sourcing new and exciting products. Since we opened our doors the local food scene has just exploded, especially in our area. However, as much as local food is very important to us when we look at new products for the shop it’s quality and taste that are the most important factor.
“We are good friends with both The Buffalo Farm and Balgove and think their businesses are fantastic. We are lucky in Fife that we have all the ingredients for a really strong local food network and we all work together. We have the sea on our doorstep and rich farmland all around ensuring there is no shortage of primary producers.”
Will Docker, founder of Balgove Larder, added: “The past months have been a real challenge for the whole team so being named as a finalist for these awards has been a boost for the whole team here. I’m delighted that Balgove Larder is named as a finalist but to see so many businesses from across Fife is a real demonstration of the vibrant food and drink scene here.”
Steven Mitchell, founder of The Buffalo Farm, is equally delighted to see Fife food businesses recognised at this level.
He said: “I am a bit in shock at the moment as there are some amazing farm shops in Scotland and I think we are really just starting out on our journey. We have some big plans with our Buffalo Mozzarella launching later in the year and we are hoping to enhance the Farm Shop experience to become even better.
“I think Fife has had a long tradition of farming and tourism which presents a tremendous opportunity for food producers to find new outlets for their products. So we have the opportunity to try new things with the freshest of products and I think foodies really like that. I also think that Fife food producers have such a fantastic story to tell with the history and the influx of new cultures.”
Rosie Jack of Bowhouse, which is the only Scottish market to be shortlisted in the national category for Best Food Market, said: “It feels absolutely brilliant to have been nominated for this award by our customers, it’s a real surprise.
“Fife really is at the heart of the Scottish food and drink sector. It has some of the best farmland in Scotland as well as having fantastic rich coastlines and waters from the North Sea. These elements mean quality of produce is at its freshest and best.”
Since it first opened its doors in 2017 on Balcaskie Estate, Bowhouse has drawn more than 100,000 people to its Market Weekend events which include a changing line-up of Scotland’s best food and drink producers, a dedicated street food area, live music, food and drink activities and workshops.
For more information on how to enter visit greatbritishfoodawards.com