Case Study: Glenegedale House

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Glenegedale House Islay is a Five Star Gold luxury guesthouse on the island of Islay. We are situated in the heart of the island which is great for exploring but also allows us wonderful travel links while still having sea views across the Atlantic with the most amazing sunsets

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

Our business was shut down from the 19th March until the 19th July. On March 5th, we won the highly coveted Thistle Award and this was to be “our year”. We had an occupancy for the following eight months of 98% and this was decimated overnight. However as a true island girl with an amazing husband behind me, you can either take it lying down or stand up and be counted, so we started an honesty box with fresh hen eggs from our own chooks, sold our veggies from our veggie garden and baked our hearts out and the locals supported us whole heartedly. We had a socially distanced queue every morning at the end of our drive with everyone in their cars up the drive after or before their walk along the beach in front of Glenegedale House. It was so motivational and our two children were completely involved too. It allowed us to survive both mentally as well as the business.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

Our business has changed with the model appearing slightly different and we have managed to do this without compromising on the guests experience or expectation. We were very well known for our fruit buffet as well as the hot dishes from the kitchen and for obvious reasons the buffet had to go however we are still offering the same but with it being table service. Our business had to also evolve as above with the honesty box.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

We are currently only using a third of the buildings footprint here at Glenegedale House and we have always had plans for the adjoining buildings, however these have changed with the success of the Lock Down Honesty Box. We will be developing a Bake House Tearoom with the facilities for a cook and cocktail school using local produce and foraging our island (that does involve foraging the gin and whisky ;-))

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We celebrated Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight two fold and in the best way. We started with our seafood platters and charcuterie and cheese platters here at Glenegedale with our guests and then escaped to Edinburgh and Glasgow where we sampled the East Coast Cured delights for ourselves and the fabulous Continis restaurant in Edinburgh which was a dream come true. We also squeezed in a trip to the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow which was also beautiful.


Case Study: MacDuff 1890

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

We source top quality cattle from a small selection of trusted farms in the Scottish Lowlands and Borders, supplying tender, succulent and ready-to-cook beef and lamb to high-end butchers and caterers in Scotland, England and further afield.

We’re a fourth-generation family firm that is based at our plant in Wishaw. Rory Duff and his son Andrew run the company. Each morning they handpick the beef and lamb for all the day’s orders according to each customer’s specification. We ensure you get exactly what you ask for.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

It has been an extremely turbulent time for our business during the crisis. Fortunately our main market is independent high street butchers who, like us, have remained open throughout lockdown and all of us have done our best and played a small part in helping supply and feed the nation with high quality scotch beef and lamb. Keeping our staff safe during this time has been of the upmost importance and a lot of time daily is dedicated towards this with ever changing advice which needs to be implemented quickly, effectively and safely.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

Fortunately, as a meat wholesaler we have always worked to very high staff hygiene standards and numerous items of PPE are already part and parcel of the job. Social distancing and wearing of face coverings at all times in the factory is new and we have increased levels of sanitisation points across all areas. Ensuring our staff are fully trained in all the key areas of working safely during coronavirus, detailed risk assessments in place and ensuring everyone knows how and where to get tested if required.

Every year at the end of November MACDUFF 1890 host our annual carcase show and sale. This is the last one remaining that is still held in Scotland for independents. This year was meant to be our 19th annual event and it is held in very high regard being attended by some of the nation’s finest butchers, chefs and of course our producer group of farmers. It usually culminates in a large celebratory gala dinner to finish off the event in style. Sadly, we will not be able to do any of what we normally would for our show and sale this year. A farm visit then judging / auction in our factory with many usually in attendance. But as the saying goes “the show must go on” and we have been looking into collaborating with a local online auction mart to have a remote auction instead and we are even looking at investing in a WiFi system down in our factory area so that we can hopefully have remote judging via FaceTime on all the amazing scotch beef and lamb that our farmers submit to the show in the hope of becoming a prize winner or the ultimate recognition of being crowned the supreme champion! Here at MACDUFF we are just doing our best, like everyone else is, to adapt and continue to offer the top level of personal service and scotch produce to all our customers in the run up to Christmas!

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

By eating and drinking as much local and top-quality produce as possible.

 


Recipe: Neil Forbes, Cafe St Honoré - Cullen Skink with Cheddar Topping

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 550g smoked haddock pieces
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large leek, washed, sliced and chopped
  • 500ml double cream
  • Knob of butter
  • 2 handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 handful grated cheddar
  • Good salt and pepper
  • Extra parsley for garnish

 

Directions

Sweat the onions in the butter in a thick-bottomed pan until translucent.

Then add the potatoes and cream.

Cook until the potatoes are just soft, then add the leek and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the smoked haddock. Stir gently until the fish is cooked, and spoon into bowls.

Make the topping by mixing the breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley.

Add to each bowl and place under the grill until bubbling and golden.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.


Case Study: Braehead Foods

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Braehead Foods are a national food wholesaler who have been in operation for over 30 years. We supply many different areas of the hospitality industry from small, family run cafes in the West of Scotland to large corporate events and stadia facilities in London. I’m also a Brand Ambassador for our sister company, The Cook School Scotland, which is run by my daughter, Aileen. The Cook School was formed in 2009 and hosts many different themed cookery classes.

No matter the size of the customer’s business, the answer is always yes, and we endeavour to supply them with the highest quality of produce. I, Braehead Foods and The Cook School Scotland have been avid supporters of the Scottish hospitality industry, supporting many causes, events, and people in the industry over the years.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

The whole hospitality industry grounded to a stop and basically didn’t move for 4 months. Our business had previously been a 24/7 operation, and this was no longer required. No hotels, no restaurants, no events, no football didn’t leave much for Braehead Foods to do.

The stark reality hit that I had circa 150 staff to look after and massively depleted revenue inflows so unfortunately, we were looking at lots of employees losing their jobs until the government furlough scheme came into place and offered us a lifeline. Over the years I’ve let people go that weren’t performing, which always bothered me, but it was really hard to let go of good people that were performing, working hard and were doing a great job. It’s one thing building a business up but being faced with having to wind it down is really difficult. From the outset I received overwhelming support from staff, customers, suppliers, banks and Scottish Enterprise.

The Cook School officially closed their doors in the middle of March, before any official government announcements were in place, in order to protect staff and the public. As yet, those doors remain closed. The nation really seemed to get a passion for cooking during lockdown which was the inspiration behind the introduction of the Cook School @ Home online Zoom classes. These classes allow the team to continue teaching our customers to cook whilst offering a social sanctuary during a time of worry and uncertainty. People were working from home, self-isolating, missing friends and family. We felt these classes would help to overcome some of these barriers and give people something to look forward to. The classes have proven to be so popular they’re now on our calendar to stay!

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

There are many negative ways that Covid-19 has impacted my business, but there have been a lot of positive changes that have been implemented to the way the business is run that will remain in place even after this crisis is over. l had the time to pause, take a step back and look at the business from top to bottom and make changes to the way we do things. I was self-isolating so by physically stepping back from the business it allowed me to concentrate on strategising and rebuilding. I made changes to delivery schedules, staffing levels, shift patterns, product mixes: all of which had been on the cards for a while, but day-to-day operations stalled the implementation. The enforced lockdown allowed me to rip the plaster off and action these changes, without which my business would not have survived.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

Our wholesale business basically reduced to nothing overnight. Panic buying had set in across the nation and being a food service business, I knew that we had the infrastructure in place to support the local community and the vulnerable within it. We started a phone and collect facility where local residents could phone their order in, drive past our factory in their cars and staff would put their goods in the boot of their cars; complying with social distancing rules and keeping both the staff and the customers safe and expanding wholesale into retail. We were sitting with thousands of pounds worth of fresh produce in stock, so this allowed us to reduce the volume of food waste that was facing the bin.

We started offering home deliveries of our produce to help those who were isolating and unable to leave their homes. With most staff out of the business, I was light on the manpower to actually carry out these deliveries. This challenge saw us collaborate with a local taxi company and they facilitated the deliveries; it was a win/win situation for both companies as I was short on drivers and they were short their usual customer base. The taxi drivers are used to navigating themselves round the back roads and cul-de-sacs of the local area whereas my drivers are more likely to be reversing a lorry up outside a five-star city centre hotel. I would never have previously considered using a taxi company to deliver Braehead produce before, having a fleet of over 20 refrigerated vans, why would I need to? Due to the location of Braehead Foods factory, the fleet of taxis turned up at 4.30am every day and all the food parcels were delivered by 5.30am, which allowed the temperature and integrity of the products to remain in place.

I’ve always been a big supporter of the local community in Kilmarnock and surrounding areas. The local hospital is visible from my premises and many of the Doctors and Nurses who work there have been loyal customers of The Cook School Scotland, the Café and the Shop over the years. I wanted to show my appreciation and support for the amazing frontline staff, so we donated food parcels with ready meals and other essentials and offered discounts and flexible collection times to accommodate their long shift patterns.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

Braehead Foods have a strong affiliation with Game produce, with the processing and supply of Game a significant part of the operations of the business since inception. Despite 2020 being a challenging year for the Game industry, there is so much fantastic grouse, pheasant, venison etc across the estates in Scotland that needs to be sung about from the rooftops.

We kicked off the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight in conjunction with The Cook School Scotland where we hosted a special Scottish Larder menu as part of our aforementioned, online Cook School @ Home classes. In the class we showcased and celebrated lots of different Scottish produce, how to cook it and where to source it. I even joined the classes myself to share interesting tales from my time in the industry.

To encourage chefs to be more open to having Game on their menu, we have been running a promotion on selected Game items made by our Production Kitchen. The promotion has been well received and is helping to raise the profile and inspire chefs of what can be created with Scottish Game. We have really enjoyed seeing what these skilled chefs have been creating with our fresh produce across theirs and our social media channels.


Case Study: Praveen Kumar

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Praveen Kumar Authentic Indian Cuisine was launched in April 2019, headed up by founder, restaurateur and entrepreneur, Praveen Kumar. Now a team of 18, we create authentic Indian curries, which have been cooked for more than a decade at Praveen’s award-winning restaurant in Perth, Tabla, and subsequently at Praveen’s Indian Cook School. Our highly skilled chefs make the meals by hand using the finest fresh ingredients in the UK, and spices imported from Praveen’s home village in Southern India. The meals are then immediately frozen to seal in the freshness and taste. Customers can either purchase the curries directly via the website or in the ever-growing network of independent stores, farm shops and delis around Scotland which stock our curries. For those who order online, the curries are delivered sustainably in a fully recyclable cardboard box.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

The impact of the Coronavirus crisis on the business has been substantial. Sales of our frozen curries have doubled since the crisis began, with post March sales increasing our monthly turnover pre-March by 200%. Since that time, we have significantly increased investment in our marketing and have developed our cooking equipment capacity at our new premises at Perth Food and Drink Park. Currently we are selling 250,000 meals a year and anticipate this could grow to 1 million in 2021.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

We have invested more in our digital marketing specifically and employed a customer relations manager to help facilitate our ambitious growth plans and handle our social media. Since initially launching the business at the Indian Cook School premises in Perth, we have expanded to employ a team of 18 and have made a significant investment in premises at the Food and Drink Park in Perth. We are also trialling a subscriptions service, since 56% of our sales are from repeat business, which allows our customers to receive curries from us as regularly as they choose, either monthly or bimonthly.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

The crisis has definitely presented opportunities that we would not otherwise have considered. For instance, we are trialling a corporate offer at the moment, given the fact that offices are not yet open for staff to return. For virtual staff meetings we can arrange for mailboxes of curries to be sent to all staff members at their home address before the meeting takes place. One of our chefs is available to join the zoom meeting to give a 45-minute explanation of the curries within the box. We also have plans to launch our ‘Anytime curry machine’ (ATCM), which is effectively a curry dispenser which will be available at University campuses and city centres, as well as other key locations for customer convenience. The Praveen Kumar Authentic Indian Cuisine core curry range will be available through the ATCMs.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We make a point of promoting local suppliers of Perthshire produce that we use within our curries all year round. However, over the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight we will be shining a stronger spotlight on our local suppliers through our marketing and through the food we serve at our restaurant, Tabla.


Recipe: The Kilted Chef - Sweet and smoky chargrilled ribeye steak with oven roasted rapeseed, rosemary potatoes and tossed rocket salad

Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the steak

  • 2 Ribeye steaks
  • 50ml Grouse smoky whisky
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cracked mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 Fresh red chillies, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Aberdeenshire honey
  • 2 tbsp Scottish rapeseed oil

For the potatoes

  • 250g baby new potatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tbsp Scottish rapeseed oil

For the rocket salad

  • 1 small bag of wild rocket leaves
  • 1 tsp of Aberdeenshire honey
  • 1 tbsp of Scottish rapeseed oil

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Put 2 ribeye steaks onto a plate and allow to sit in room temperate for 15 minutes.

Spoon mustard seeds into a small saucepan along with the whisky, warm through for 2 minutes then remove from heat.

Place the rapeseed oil, diced red chillies, honey, rosemary, sea salt and cracked mixed peppercorns into a mixing bowl and stir through the warm whisky and mustard seeds.

Once mixed, place the ribeye steaks into the bowl and leave to marinate for 10-15 minutes.

Place washed new potatoes into a bowl, add rapeseed oil, sea salt and fresh rosemary and toss.

Transfer coated potatoes onto a baking tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Preheat a chargrilled pan. Remove ribeye steaks from the mixing bowl and place into hot pan.

Turn steaks after 1 minute and spoon over any remaining marinade from the mixing bowl.

Continue to cook for another minute and then remove steaks from the heat, to rest for a few minutes.

Remove potatoes from the oven.

Wash rocket leaves and toss in a bowl with honey and rapeseed oil.

 

To serve

Preheat serving plates.

Remove steaks from chargrilled pan.

Spoon any remaining marinade on top.

Place steaks on heated plates and oven roasted potatoes into a warm bowl.

Serve the tossed rocket salad in a side bowl. Additional dram optional.

 

 


Case Study: Matugga Distillers

This case study is brought to you in association with Burness Paull.

 

What has changed in your sector since lockdown?

Restrictions and lockdowns in the wake of COVID-19 have resulted in acute societal upheaval and economic disruption for the UK drinks trade. The closure of bars, restaurants and other indoor hospitality venues led to an immediate loss of critical bricks-and-mortar alcohol sales. Other routes to markets for alcohol producers are trade and consumers events. The calendar of spring and summer food and drinks festivals, spirits fairs and trade shows collapsed. Most have been postponed until 2021, while others have successfully migrated online. Fundamentally, consumers transitioned their on-premise spending to at-home consumption. Shoppers moved online generating a huge surge in the e-commerce alcohol sector and creating new digital opportunities for consumers, drinks producers and retailers alike (e.g., on-demand alcohol delivery services). The new home-based lifestyle has seen consumers enjoying more ready-to-drink cocktails and experimenting at home with making cocktails.

What have you done in response?

In response to the appeal to distilleries to assist the country’s shortage of hand sanitiser, my husband Paul (head distiller) and I quickly switched the production focus at our family-owned rum distillery in Livingston. We have spent much of lockdown making hand sanitiser, adhering to the WHO-approved formulation. We launched a Crowdfunder campaign which helped us to donate over 1,000 litres of sanitiser to our local healthcare providers, frontline services and community workers as well as selling critical supplies to local businesses. In time, the conventional suppliers of sanitiser were able to boost their production levels and we reverted to prioritising our conventional business of distilling artisan rum. With our beloved distillery tours and tasting events on hold until the autumn, we turned to offering virtual tasting events. Pivoting the experience online has been an ideal way of remaining in social contact with rum novices and connoisseurs who wish to explore our rum-making craft and enjoy our spirits. We recently released Liv Rum, an innovative new artisan rum collection that we had hoped to launch before the coronavirus outbreak. As a companion brand for Matugga Rum - our award-winning cask-aged rum range - the new range consists of white and spiced rums and flavoured rum liqueurs. The range has diversified our offering and will help us to cultivate a new generation of rum drinker. Our rums were also showcased at the inaugural virtual Scottish Rum Festival on Saturday 25th July 2020. As a business we’ve worked hard to maintain our brand communications over the past few months, in order to continue to reinforce our proposition and communicate our value. We strategically sustained our marketing investment in the hope that it would support post-pandemic growth.

What have been the consequences of your change in behaviour/operations?

As an early-stage and ambitious business, we have worked hard to not lose sight of the bigger picture and our strategic goals. It has been a time for revisiting our strategy to build residual value and long-term gain. We have been thinking strategically about how we can build our new and existing brands, broaden our services and deepen our differentiation and competitiveness (e.g. through NPD and accelerating our aged stock) over the next 12 months and beyond. We are also thinking about how we can best leverage the new digital and e-commerce opportunities for sales, promotions and engagement.

What are your predictions for the short term in your sector?

Health and hygiene concerns will continue to see consumers spending more time at home and preference for in-home eating and drinking is likely to hold. As we make slow, steady steps out of lockdown and more pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues begin their recovery journeys after such a long closure, there’s the hope that those bricks-and-mortar trade sales will experience a ‘mini boom.’

What are the changes that will ‘stick’ once out of lockdown and affect your sector for the longer term?

We are at the very beginning of our understanding about the impact of COVID-19. Social distancing has fundamentally changed our shopping and consumption behaviours, and has driven our home-based lifestyles. We can expect the practical and psychological effects of the pandemic to linger for some time. Periodic epidemic waves and intermittent social distancing may return. In addition, as the economic reality of the impending recession looms we’ll likely see more cautious consumer spending. This is without doubt the most uncertain period we’ve known as business owners with no end in sight for the flux and unpredictability within our sector. However, it remains that we are hardwired to survive, aren’t we?

 

Read more of the Burness Paull Tales from the Larder series here.


Case Study: Brew Toon

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Brew Toon are a microbrewery & Tap Room established in 2017 and based in the nautical town of Peterhead. We brew exciting & innovative craft beers, and pride ourselves on creating unique, quality beers which we sell throughout the UK.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way we run our business. Our Tap Room & brewery tour experience has been forced to close, likewise a large proportion of our beer sales to our on-trade customers (bars, festivals etc.) has been heavily restricted since the start of the pandemic. This has forced us to completely adapt our business & product offerings, to ensure that we survive and continue to operate as a viable local business. Having put a lot of focus and investment at growing our on-trade market which had reached around 70% of our overall sales, we have had to completely flip the way we work, switching our focus to off-trade opportunities.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

Through a lot of hard work and support from the local community, we have managed to adapt really well to the current situation, and this has helped us maintain the same level of growth that we were achieving prior to COVID-19. We have worked tirelessly to develop a good e-commerce platform and new level of stock which has enabled us to find new routes to market and grow our off-trade sales. We have had to innovate and develop new products and packaging to enable us to operate effectively during these restrictions. This has led us to launching new beers and packaging formats such as mini-kegs and growlers so that customers could enjoy fresh draught beer at home. We’ve also had to invest in new durable packaging to ensure orders arrived safely with customers and not to restrict our e-commerce market to local sales only.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

Certainly on packaging it has presented some opportunities for us to explore new formats; mini-kegs for example which we may not have been as viable had lockdown restrictions not been in place. E-commerce had always been an area we wanted to grow sales, but this has perhaps forced us to act quicker with investment here.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

To celebrate Scotland F&D Fortnight, we will be enjoying as much of the quality local produce as possible. We are fortunate in the NE that there are vast amounts of quality Scottish producers and so we’ll use this opportunity to make an even greater effort to support these businesses.


Scotch lamb and seasonal vegetables with Jak O'Donnell

Join Jak O'Donnell this Saturday afternoon on our Instagram (@scotfooddrink) live at 1pm to create a Scotch Lamb Dukkah.

Come prepared with the following...

Ingredients:

  • 4 x 200g individual portions of square cut Scotch lamb rump
  • 4 tbsp Summer Harvest rapeseed oil
  • 250g selection of Scottish greens
  • 250g potatoes
  • 1 ltr hot lamb stock

For the dukkah

  • 400g chopped skinned roasted hazelnuts
  • 300g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 6 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tbsp cracked pepper
  • 2 tbsp Blackthorn Scottish sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper

Utensils:

  • 1 x sharp knife
  • 1 x heavy-based frying pan that can go from stove to oven
  • 1 oven tray
  • Mortar & pestle or a small blender
  • Tongs
  • 2 x pots
  • Plates to serve

Recipe: Gautier Cartron, Garden Tipple Cocktail

The Torridon’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight themed cocktail, created by the 1887 restaurant’s manager, Gautier Cartron. Using traditionally Scottish ingredients that have been sourced from the hotel’s two-acre Kitchen Garden, alongside its own gin, Arcturus, the Garden Tipple offers a sweet, herbal hit.

 

Ingredients

  • 30ml Arcturus gin
  • 15 ml cherry brandy
  • 1 branch garden rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon garden raspberry jam
  • 20ml Herbal tea (Aching muscles)
  • Juice of ½ lemon

 

Method

If you have a cocktail shaker, shake all the ingredients together for 30 seconds, then strain over a martini glass.

If you don't have a shaker, you can double, triple or increase the quantity and put everything together to macerate for four hours.