THE best restaurants in the Scottish Highlands and Islands are to be celebrated for the first time under a long-established awards scheme.
The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, now in their eighth year, look to reward innovation across the food and drink industry, with awards for New Product, Healthier Food & Drink and Independent Food & Drink Retailer of the Year up for grabs.
Two new ‘eating out’ categories – Restaurant of the Year and Best Other Eatery – feature for the first time this year.
Organiser the Highlands & Islands Food and Drink Forum created the gongs to cover the ‘eating out’ spectrum in the area and ensure that cafés and delis are not competing with Michelin or AA Star restaurants.
The forum’s Quintin Stevens said the awards scheme aims to “showcase the wide range of food and drink products in the region, from internationally renowned companies to small, innovative producers”.
“We’ve introduced several new awards this year to cater for and appeal to the wealth of outstanding innovation and effort we know is helping to shape the future of the industry,” he said.
“We hope that more businesses in the Highlands & Islands’ food and drink industry will step forward this year and let the awards help gain recognition for and promote their achievements.”
In addition to companies and products, the awards scheme also highlights individuals in two categories: the Young Shining Star Award and the Ambassador of the Year category. The latter is not open to entries and is decided entirely by industry leaders.
The awards are open for entries until Friday June 15. Shortlisted finalists will be announced in September, with the ceremony taking place on Friday October 19 at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness.
“The quality of our food and drink products plays a key role in defining the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to the rest of the world,” said Iain Sutherland at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which supports the awards.
“HIE has been a major funder and supporter of the Awards for a number of years, and we continue to lend our support because of our belief in the potential for further development.”