Entries are welcomed from food and drink suppliers of all sizes across Scotland who can demonstrate their passion for their business and ambitions for growth. Judging for the awards is blind in both written and tasted sections. In tasted categories all products are prepared for the judges by qualified chefs. Tasted products can be for either the foodservice or the retail market, and will be judged within the relevant context.
Our judging panel is made up of decision making buyers, influencers and chefs from across the food and drink sector, from retail to plate.
Bringing real commercial edge and years of industry experience, this year we will welcome judges from Asda, Marks & Spencer, Aramark, Edrington, Waldolf Astoria, Co-op, Sodexo and Enotria & Co.
Judges are looking for informative and well-planned answers. Entrants are solely responsible for the accuracy of the information they supply. Neither organisers nor judges will have capacity to carry out additional research; therefore entrants should ensure that all questions are answered.
All entrants will receive written feedback reports which include the comments and opinions of the Judges.
Entries will be allocated points for their applications, weighted as follows:
Application form – 30%
Packaging – 15%
Tasted – 55%
Application form – 100%
(Unless stated otherwise on application form. E.g. Interview process.)
Meet our tasted judges
For our product awards, judging for the alcohol categories will take place on Wednesday 11 March and food categories will be judged on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 March 2020.
The final decision will be made by the judging panel with judging Chair having the casting vote if required.
All entries for each category will be narrowed down to a shortlist of four. The finalist companies will be announced on Tuesday 31 March.
Rebekah Chaplin, Category Buying Manager for Aramark Northern Europe
Rebekah’s favourite quote is ‘there is no sincerer love than the love of food’ – George Bernard Shaw. Food has always been her passion and so naturally Rebekah went into foodservice straight out of a business management degree and hasn’t looked back! Starting off as a bid manager for Bidfood she set her sights on becoming a buyer. Fast forward 5 years and she’s now responsible for multiple food categories at the UK’s third largest contract caterer. Including dairy, fresh bakery, fish, vegan, local, speciality and hospitality. Rebekah’s main focus over the next 12 months is to establish and develop relationships with local suppliers and SMEs, to offer opportunities, guidance and support to help them grow in the world of foodservice. She can’t wait to see what delights of Scotland will win the Excellence Awards!
George McIvor, Culinary Director at The Full Range (& Chairman of Master Chefs of Great Britain)
With over 40 years experience in the UK and international foodservice and hospitality industries, George has a passion for food excellence which he imparts to all that he does as Director of The Full Range. George has worked for over a decade in new product development for most of the major multiples including Baxters, Marks and spencer, Sainsbury combined with recipe development and brand promotion of smaller artisan producers.
A great motivator, he is never happier than when encouraging youngsters to get involved in the industry and passes on his knowledge of food, health and nutrition with great enthusiasm. In his role as Chairman of the Master Chefs of Great Britain, George channels his time and energy in championing the best of Scottish produce. He encourages hotels and restaurants to source this produce for their discerning clientele, who now demand food with real provenance and which is sustainably produced.
Loraine Hartley, Commodity Manager at NHS Scotland
Loraine originally trained as a chef working in a number of roles in the industry in the early stages of her career before moving into procurement with NHS Scotland and has over 30 years experience with the last 10 as the Food Commodity Manager within NHS National Procurement.
In this role Loraine has become a key expert at the centre of the supply chain for NHS Scotland’s Food & Drink. Working in partnership with Health Board catering manager colleagues, Loraine tenders and manages the national portfolio of 10 contracts covering all key input ingredients and ready prepared meals required by NHS Scotland Boards. These national contracts cover over 80% of the NHS Scotland spend on Food and demonstrates the considerable collaborative success and partnership across NHS Scotland.
Loraine is also a key industry stakeholder often consulted and involved in projects and strategies beyond NHS Scotland, including those led by Scottish Government.
David Bates, Head of Region at Marks & Spencer
Heather Turnbull, Regional Buying Manager at Asda
Heather entered the food and drink industry in 2015 when she joined Asda as a regional buyer. Before that, Heather worked as a buyer for jewellers, buying watches and diamond jewellery so it was a big change moving to sausages and shortbread! Her job allows her travel all over the country visiting big and small suppliers to see if there is potential for business in Asda. She love going direct to the source and seeing the process from start to finished product on our shelves, and gets a real buzz seeing something you’ve worked hard to get right with the supplier landing well and gaining strong sales. At this stage Heather says she eat, work, sleep, dream food and drink and wouldn’t change it for anything.
Kris Little, Category Manager at Sodexo
Kris little brings more than 25 years’ experience across operations, food development, Distribution and buying. Kris joined Sodexo in 2005 and has managed a portfolio of categories across food and non-food for both UK and Ireland. Currently managing the grocery, frozen processed potato, speciality, vegetarian and Ethnic categories and is Sodexo’s category lead for Ireland.
Ryan MacFarlane, Executive Chef at Waldorf Astoria
Executive Chef of Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, Ryan MacFarlane has over 20 years of experience working in the culinary world at award-winning restaurants and multiple 5-star hotels both local and international. Born and raised in Musselburgh, MacFarlane began his culinary career at the late great Gary Rhodes’ Edinburgh restaurant before working his way up to hotels including The Scotsman and Sheraton Grand. Since joining Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, he is has been awarded Executive Chef of the Year and Banqueting Team of the Year for The Scottish Hotel Awards 2018, Hilton’s Seafood Sustainability Award 2017, selected as a judge for the Springboard Future Chefs Edinburgh trials 2019 and is a proud Member of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. When MacFarlane is not creating new afternoon tea concepts, coordinating exclusive dinners for large and small events, organising breakfast for up to 400 guests or looking after all the staff in our canteen, the dad of two is known for organised primary school visits and talks to inspire healthy eating among young people.
Kaushik Chauhan, Group Procurement Director at The Gate Group
Kaushik Chauhan is the Group Procurement Director for Gategroup Limited, where he oversees the firm’s European and African CULINARY Strategic Sourcing. He is responsible for implementing their long-term procurement program to leverage GATEGROUP’s buying power across a historically decentralized organization that has grown rapidly via acquisitions, while simultaneously driving efficiencies within GATEGROUP’s core activity of servicing airlines food and beverage needs as innovatively and as cost efficiently and effectively as possible.
Kaushik has more than 15 years of experience in FMCG procurement, strategic sourcing, supplier diversity, and supply chain management from prior roles at GSK, Avon, and Britvic, where he led and managed EMEA and Global Sourcing Strategies across Raw Materials, NPD&I, Off-Shoring and general Commodities Sourcing and into fruition.
Kaushik is a qualified Chemical Engineer and has post-graduate certifications in Procurement and Business Management from The George Washington University.
Meet our brewing and distilling judges
Elaine Miller, Global Marketing Manager at Edrington
Elaine has 20 years experience in the food & drink industry. She has led the marketing strategy of several FMCG household brands for companies including; the no.1 British cereal company – Weetabix Food Group & one of the largest Scottish food companies – Baxters Food Group. During this time, she was also responsible for redefining & redesigning brand portfolios, creating integrated communication campaigns, as well as managing sponsorship programmes with the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Scottish Rugby. Elaine also developed innovation pipelines to identify future category growth opportunities which resulted in successful launches of new product ranges into multiple retailers in the UK. Elaine is now working for Edrington – a world leading premium spirits company, heading up the Naked Grouse blended malt brand that’s establishing itself amongst a new generation of whisky drinkers. During this time the brand has grown by 50% across 74 countries globally and has been recognised through various prestigious whisky awards for its taste, quality & design.
Sean Murphy, Food & Drink Writer
Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink.
Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland’s best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
Andy Gemmell was brought up with Hospitality in his blood. He started working at an early age at his uncle’s bars and clubs on the West coast of Scotland and by the age of twenty Andy was running two bars in his home town, his next step would be a move to Glasgow and a head bartender role at TGI Fridays where he gained several awards for his flair and bartending skills.
Moving on from TGI Friday’s Andy worked in some of the UK’s top bars developing his craft before starting Scotland’s first bar consultancy company, Liquid Assets, with his cousin Scott. Specializing in events including MTV awards, several film premiers and high fashion shows. The company also specialized in training which he did with groups such as Hilton Hotels, Hard Rock Cafe and the Malmasion group. He has traveled the globe and worked in some of the worlds best bars. Andy has worked and trained in several countries including Japan, Taiwan, Greece, Spain and America.
After winning numerous awards and competition’s with Liquid Assets Andy moved on to run some of Scotland’s top bars including the infamous Tonic bar in Edinburgh. In January 2005 Gemmell then joined integrated drinks marketing consultancy, Brand Ambassadors, where he was appointed as its New Business Director.
In January of 2006 Andy joined forces with Wayne Collins at Maxxium UK. He was appointed at global drinks company Maxxium Worldwide as a senior manager of their award winning and cutting edge ‘Mixxit’ training programme. An ambassador, brand developer and qualified WSET trainer for their portfolio of premium brands, he trains and inspires bartenders throughout the world. For over 7 years he devised innovative training and education programmes to encourage bartenders around the world to enhance and develop their own Spirit knowledge and bartending skills. A regular on the Scottish television’s “The Hour”, Weekly bar review Column in The Sunday Herald and a contributor to some Scotland’s top trade publications. Andy then moved on to work for Bacardi Global Brands as a Global Whisky Ambassador where he not only educates thousands on Scotland’s national drink but also works with the Master Blenders and Distillers in the creation of new products. Most recently Andy has set up The Drink Cabinet UK, with a sister company in Sydney headed up by Jason Crawley. With a mission to create innovative brand concepts and designs, pioneering advocacy and marketing campaigns and tangible, sustainable routes to market generating long term on trade listings and presence in the consumer market.
More recently Andy has decided to go back into owning his own bars with his first opening in Spring 2019.
Les Somerville, Director of Sales at Enotria&Coe – Scotland and the North East of England
I got into the drinks industry in 1999 when I joined Oddbins Wine Merchants. It was a fantastic company for supporting your passion in wines and spirits and developing you in your career. I was there for eight years, during that time I enjoyed progression through store to field management and left as the Sales Director for the North of the U.K. I was asked to join Enotria thirteen years ago. The past decade has seen such vast changes in the industry, economy and trends meaning we have all had to adapt to make sure we are supporting our suppliers and clients as best we can with the ever changing needs of the consumer. Working closely with the E&C buying team has allowed me to travel extensively throughout the world, and these fantastic experiences aid myself and my team in seeing the market on a global scale giving us the ability to bring credible products to the U.K. market.
Kevin Buchan, Divisional Ranging Manager North at Co-op
I have been working in the food retail sector for over 30 years, during which time I have always been a passionate advocate of Scottish suppliers and brands ( even more so when working south of the border J) I have been working out of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands for the last ten years covering the Western Isles, Lochaber and central Highlands, I have recently been appointed as the North Division ( priority being Scotland ) Ranging Manager, I am responsible for supplier and range development, raising the profile of key events whilst developing a Scottish bespoke promotional strategy for the Co Op.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, former CEO at Scotch Whisky Association
Julie Hesketh-Laird is the current Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO). She has been representing Scotland and the UK’s greatest food export and Britain’s favourite fish since 2018. Previously she spent 12 years championing Scotch, latterly at the helm of its main representative body. She is a member of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership Board and a Keeper of the Quaich – an accolade awarded by the Scotch Whisky industry to recognise outstanding commitment to the sector. She has worked with producers and brands of all sizes to help them build strategies and capacity, markets and expertise. A lover of all Scotland’s larder and its drinks cupboard, she considers herself to be a bit of a foodie and loves to seek out local and innovative brands. Most likely to be found at a beer festival or Whisky tasting at the weekend.