Outstanding examples of hospitality in the north and north-east earned the region a string of top honours at the Catering Scotland Excellence Awards last night.
One of Aberdeen’s most reputable places to dine and/or sleep, the Chester Hotel, came away with the restaurant newcomer award after brushing off some stiff competition.
And the Torridon hotel in Wester Ross scooped the independent hotel of the year title.
Back in the Aberdeen area, Westhill-based catering firm Entier won the healthier Scotland award, thanks to its commitment to wholesome and nourishing food.
The UK’s most northerly mainland restaurant, the Captain’s Galley at Scrabster, was crowned best sustainable business in recognition of its environmentally sound sourcing policies.
Federation of Chefs Scotland chief executive Neil Thomson was presented with a special award to honour an industry involvement spanning more than 50 years, while the lifetime excellence gong went to leading chef Bruce Sangster from the Michelin-starred Sangster’s restaurant in Fife.
Edinburgh’s imposing Balmoral Hotel won two of the top awards – for best group hotel and best restaurant – after judges said the Rocco-Forte-owned business had “continued its delivery of world-class hospitality”.
The Chester Hotel is owned by Graham Wood, son of oil entrepreneur Sir Ian Wood.
It opened just over two years ago after a £5million revamp of the former Simpson’s Hotel in Queen’s Road.
The hotel’s IX Restaurant, headed up by executive chef Kevin Dalgleish, and private dining rooms are now a firm fixture on the local food and drink scene.
The Torridon, set in 58 acres of parkland at the end of a sea loch near Achnasheen, recently embarked on a major revamp as part of plans to broaden its appeal to a “wider clientele”.
Once a shooting lodge, it was built for the first Earl of Lovelace in 1887 and is now owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Daniel and Rohaise Rose-Bristow.
Entier, founded in 2008, prides itself on its record of “investing in the communities we operate in by sourcing local, sustainable, quality produce to enhance the wellbeing of our customers and deliver memorable food experiences”.
And Jim Cowie, who runs the Captain’s Galley seafood restaurant with his wife Mary, insists on only using fresh produce from sustainable sources. Wherever possible, the Cowies try to get their seafood from within a 50-mile radius of the restaurant.
Last night’s award ceremony, held in Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel, was attended by more than 500 guests.