The start of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight has been marked by a couple of initiatives to help Scotland’s hospitality sector. In the first, a programme worth £1 million to improve standards and raise ambition within the industry has been launched this afternoon at an event in Glasgow. It’s called the Emerging Talent Scholarship programme and is run by the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland.
The scheme is open to anyone working in a tourism, leisure, travel or hospitality business in Scotland. It’s estimated that there are around 180,000 people employed the sector which brings over £11 billion to the Scottish economy each year. The scholarships include working with Michelin starred chefs and award winning sommeliers, as well as courses at leading hotel schools in Lausanne in Switzerland and the Disney Institute in Florida.
The programme has now been in operation for some eight years and over 800 scholarships have been awarded. Beverly Payne, head of HIT Scotland’s scholarship committee, pointed out that the scholarships “are seen as high value opportunities and it is vital that we keep providing great experiences so people can learn from the best and bring back ideas and innovations to help move Scottish hospitality forward.”
Applications close on the 30th of November and more information can be found on the www.hitscotland.co.uk website. The experience of past winners can be seen at the YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/hitscotland.
On top of that, eleven of Scotland’s top chefs today pledged a fortnight of their time to young culinary enthusiasts who are hoping to make their mark in the Scottish catering and hospitality sector. Among the chefs already committed to the scheme include such star names as Nick Nairn, Martin Wishart, Andrew Fairlie and Albert Roux.
Launching the programme, Fergus Ewing, minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, said that “Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight is one of the premier events in the food and drink calendar, showcasing our wonderful natural larder and enhancing Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink.”
With chefs Roy Brett from Ondine restaurant in Edinburgh and John Paul from the Macdonald Marine Hotel in North Berwick, he added “I can’t think of a better way of launching this showcase than with some great ambassadors of Scottish food. The work experience placements these chefs will provide will not only encourage young people to think of the food and drink industry as a career of choice, equipping with them with skills which the industry needs for future growth but will also help them to think about their food choices.”
Scotland Food & Drink organised the scheme to encourage more youngsters into the trade. The work experience scheme is open to any budding chef under the age of 21. It could be a chef currently in employment looking for some experience with a top chef or perhaps a student or school leaver looking for inspiration on what to do next in their cooking career. Entrants can choose which chef they would like to work with but there is only one space available with each outlet. Scotland Food & Drink will pay £150 towards each student’s travelling expenses. Speaking at the launch, Fergus Ewing said:
Roy Brett said that “inspiring young Scots into the industry is something I am extremely passionate about. I had wonderful mentors when I was starting out in my career and I want to offer that same chance to hungry new talent. Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is the perfect time to launch the scheme because it highlights the fantastic array of home grown produce we have at our disposal and will hopefully encourage our young chefs to take advantage of the tastes and flavours.”
To apply entrants must write to Scotland Food & Drink stating why they think a two week placement with one of Scotland’s top chefs would enhance their career and which chef they would like to be placed with. Entries should be sent to Sophie Fraser at Scotland Food & Drink on [email protected] or write to her at Scotland Food & Drink, 3 The Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh, EH28 8NB.
There are 164 events taking place across the country to celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight. For further information log onto www.scottishfoodanddrinkfortnight.co.uk.