Local food and drink specialists were recognised for being experts in their field when the Saturday Kitchen team sampled their products ahead of Burns Night.
Artisan food and drink producers from Angus, Fife, the north-east and Orkney enjoyed national exposure at the weekend when their offerings featured on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen.
Experts on the popular weekly food and drink programme gave over part of the show to some of the best products available to help celebrate Burns Night.
And they were raving about the range from producers in our areas and beyond.
Hosted by Matt Tebbutt, guests – singer Anne-Marie, Shauna Froydenlund and Cyrus Todiwala and drinks expert Helen McGinn – gave the thumbs up to the area’s Burns’ fare.
Trying the award-winning haggis from Burntisland Butchers, whose award-winning haggis we featured last week, Cyrus said that the dish was “very much misunderstood” and “people were put off by the name haggis”.
Loving the flavour and the heat, Cyrus added: “You can do a million things with it”.
Next, they sampled oat-smoked mackerel from Humes in Orkney, a family firm run by Ian and Anthea Hume.
Cyrus was impressed by the mackerel, that has a little paprika in it, which he said was “smoked beautifully” and that it “tasted fantastic”, while Matt went as far as to say it was “the best smoked mackerel he had ever tasted”.
Vegan cookie dough cashew from Aberdeen-based The Hungry Squirrel was a favourite of Anne-Marie, herself a vegan.
Combining cashew, cinnamon and maple syrup flavours, she said: “That’s nice. Lovely!”
‘Smoothest, creamiest vodka’
Next up was the potato vodka from Ogilvy Vodka, produced by Ogilvy Spirits at Hatton of Ogilvy Farm, Glamis.
Drinks guru Helen said: “This is a real ground to glass product. They use their wonky potatoes to produce the vodka which is the smoothest, creamiest vodka. It’s absolutely delicious!”
She added that it was mixed with a limited edition Walter Gregor’s tonic – “a tonic made with Scottish neeps, so it’s a neeps and tatties cocktail, so you can have your neeps and tattie vodka tonic tonight”.
Moving on to Ardbeg’s 10-year-old single malt which Helen described as “a really smoky, peaty single malt from Islay which has cult status among malt whisky lovers – it’s such a fabulous malt whisky”.
Caroline Bruce-Jarron, who founded Ogilvy Vodka with her husband Graeme, said the Saturday Kitchen slot resulted in people getting in touch with goodwill messages and to place orders.
She said: “We couldn’t have asked for better, it’s just been fantastic. We have had an amazing response on the back of it with orders and people dropping us messages to say they’d seen us on TV and just a lot of local people saying they were proud.
“We could not have asked for a better response and it all helps at the moment when businesses are needing that extra boost and we really appreciate that.”
Caroline was thrilled that Helen had described their vodka as “smooth and creamy” – exactly how Ogilvy think the drink tastes.
“It’s exactly the words we usually use to describe the vodka ourselves and it is amazing that she has picked up on how we try to sell it.
“We really set out to create a sipping vodka so it is something that is smooth and can be enjoyed neat on its own and doesn’t necessarily need to have a mixer.
“We have really worked hard. With gins you are adding botanicals, but with vodka you really need to work hard to make it pleasant, there is nothing to hide behind so to speak.
“We have tried to change perceptions. Some people have had bad experiences in the past, many when they were younger by taking it from their mum and dad’s drinks cabinet and finding it rough. We want people to savour it as they would savour a good whisky.”
And Caroline herself has tried the pairing with the Walter Gregor’s neep tonic which she says was a “novel idea for Burns Day” and was full of thanks to them for pairing Ogilvy Vodka with their tonic in a subscription box that led to the TV appearance.
‘People were excited’
Claire Rennie, from Walter Gregor’s Tonic near Fraserburgh, was thrilled by the exposure Saturday Kitchen provided which has seen an upturn in sales.
“It was great coverage and it really drove sales and we had a lot on the back of it. The people who ordered it are really excited by our tonic, so it is all good,” she said.
“They had got in touch as they had heard about our limited edition neep tonic and they asked for some samples.
“They didn’t tell us they were actually doing a Burns Night event so we weren’t aware they were going to be lots of other products on, they just asked us to send some samples down.
“What I definitely found was a great response from Scottish viewers, as it appealed to them more than to people who weren’t into their Burns Night or their neeps and tatties. We got so many amazing messages from people saying ‘I just saw you on the TV!’.
“Our neep tonic is only a limited edition for January and the sales we took over the weekend we are really pleased with.
“You can actually see when the orders started coming in from the time it was on the TV which is quite funny, so that has been brilliant.
“We have our core range of five different tonics which are not as unique flavours so that has really helped push them and make people more aware of their flavours too.”
‘Our of the blue’
Susan Yule of Hungry Squirrel has also been amazed by the response after her products featured on the Saturday Kitchen show.
She said: “It was very exciting and it came out of the blue actually. It was just last Wednesday or Thursday I was asked if I would send a few jars down and if I was interested in being featured.
“I had to have everything down there for Friday and there was no guarantee it was going to actually be featured on the show.
“I didn’t catch it myself so it was only when people started texting me and I began getting all these new followers that I thought something must have happened.
“It was a Burns Night special, and they wanted to feature vegan products with Anne-Marie being on who loves nut butter anyway. With me being Scottish and bringing out these products I guess that is how they found me and she seemed to enjoy it which was great.”
Susan, who has run her business for three years after giving up a career in IT, is now busy dealing with an increase in orders.
“Things have gone a bit crazy since then. I’m absolutely flat out,” she revealed.
“I’ve got orders coming through my online store, through Amazon and I have a couple of retail orders as well. It’s really good and there has been lots of response on social media, too.”
A selection of Scottish produce to celebrate Burns Night!🙌
➡️Burntisland Butchers haggis from Scottish Haggis Champion Tom Courts
➡️@HumesOrkney Oak Smoked Mackerel
➡️@squirrelnuthq Cookie Dough Nut Butter
— SaturdayKitchen (@SaturdayKitchen) January 23, 2021
Anthea Hume, of Humes, said she and husband, Ian, were absolutely stunned as orders started to flood in only minutes after their mackerel appeared on the show.
“It was absolutely amazing. We were completely blown away. As far as we are concerned, we are always telling Ian (husband and smoker) that he is doing a very good job and last year we got three stars from the Taste awards for that mackerel so it has had success, but for the three chefs to be saying it was their favourite and for Matt to say what he did was beyond our wildest dreams.
“It is literally just Ian doing the smoking and me doing the admin. We don’t have any stockists outwith Orkney and we have very few in Orkney.
“Ian was a deep-sea trawler but he came ashore at the start of last year in order to concentrate on growing the business but that was based on us being able to attend events and sales events, but then Covid-19 hit.
“We went from Ian coming ashore to a couple of months later stopping production as people panicked, they were not going for treats and just buying the basics.
“As the year wore on we picked up a bit in the summer, but there haven’t been any events to go to and then retailers that might have been interested are not trading in the same way either.
“We weren’t even sure at the start of this year if the business could viably continue so this has given us a real shot in the arm and we are thinking this is maybe doable after all.”
The Saturday Kitchen appearance has given them a pleasant problem of trying to keep up with demand.
“We were watching it and our phones started to beep with friends saying ‘Do you know you’re on the TV?’. After our bit was featured our phones kept beeping and the main phone started to ring with numbers which weren’t local and we wondered if people were buying.
“That was when we took a look at our online shop and we were sold out. Everything was gone within the next hour.
What can we say? What a weekend this has been! We want to say a huge thank you to Matt Tebbutt and all of the guests and crew of @SaturdayKitchen for their amazing praise of our smoked mackerel – and to everyone who has placed an order, sent an enquiry, taken the time to (1/3) pic.twitter.com/hYMQbzO1XL
— Humes (@HumesOrkney) January 24, 2021
“There was a limited stock so we loaded up some more and that was gone within an hour. So after that we had to say we were only able to look at supplying mackerel for the following week and the smoker has been going flat out this week.
“The next batch that we can produce has basically sold out and we are looking to smoke another batch to fulfil next week’s orders.
“The mackerel took them to to the website and once there they have been tempted by some of the other things we do as well, and they have been selling, too.
“It’s been fantastic, absolutely unbelievable – and for January! It could not have been better during a quiet time. Really exciting!”
You can watch Saturday Kitchen by clicking here. The producers from our area are featured from 1hr 6mins.