We have announced the winners of the first ever Food and Drink Awards, a partnership between ourselves and the Midlothian Tourism Forum, supported by local businesses.
The winners were presented with their awards yesterday evening (Thursday 31 May) at a special awards ceremony dinner at Newbattle Abbey. Invited guests were treated to a delicious 4-course menu from catering manager Gordon Hodgson and his team at Newbattle Abbey. The menu was specially designed to celebrate excellent locally-sourced produce from across Midlothian.
The new Midlothian Food and Drink Directory was also launched at the awards ceremony - it's packed with information about great places to eat and drink across the county. Free copies are available from guesthouses, hotels and tourist attractions across Edinburgh and the Lothians. The directory can also be downloaded from the Visit Midlothian website at http://www.visitmidlothian.org.uk/
The Food and Drink Awards aim to highlight the fantastic range of quality food and drink suppliers and producers here in Midlothian. A total of 1,889 residents from all across Midlothian voted during March and April for their favourite food and drink suppliers and producers.
The votes from all these passionate fans of excellent food and drink were used to compile a shortlist in each of the eight competition categories. Each category was then judged by a panel of experts from Midlothian Tourism Forum, Midlothian Council, Visit Scotland and the East of Scotland Food and Drink Network. Each award sponsor also judged the entries in their award category.
Ian Johnson, our Head of Planning and Development, said: "I'd like to congratulate all the winners of this year's first ever Midlothian Food and Drink Awards. I'd also like to thank all our sponsors for their support, as well as the nearly 2000 local residents who cast their vote. The very high quality of all of our shortlisted contestants reflects the excellent range of food and drink businesses we have here in Midlothian."
The winning business in each category is as follows:
Best Place for a Coffee (sponsored by Jim Divine Freelance Designer & Creative)
- Cafe Panola, Loanhead - Based at Pentland Plants Garden Centre at Loanhead. They use local Edinburgh suppliers for teas and coffee and also for their coffee oaties. All staff are local and fully barista trained. Due to growing demand and popularity, the café has recently been extended and refurbished for the third time in the last few years.
Best Place for a Pint (sponsored by Midlothian Advertiser)
- The Dean Tavern, Newtongrange - the Dean Tavern is a Gothenburg pub, located in Newtongrange. Run by a board of trustees, any annual profits made are distributed out to local organisations. Used by many local groups for meetings and events they often find themselves the focal point for these groups. Each year they support a variety of community groups and clubs and describe themselves as integrated into the fabric of Newtongrange.
Best Place for Lunch (sponsored by Midlothian Tourism Forum)
- The Orchard Cafe at Mayshade Garden Centre, Dalkeith - Originally founded by Robert Darling who is from a farming background, now third generation Ruth Darling manages the business surrounded by her dedicated team of staff. Their longest standing member of staff has been with them 27 years. All meals are prepared in the café from scratch, they have 2 part time bakers who have developed their popular baking range and their menu is developed to reflect the goodness of organic, locally grown ingredients wherever possible. This year they celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the re-development of their site.
Best Place for Dinner (sponsored by Flowers by Lamb, Dalkeith)
- Gigi's Italian Restaurant, Bonnyrigg - One of the newer restaurants in Midlothian, located in Bonnyrigg this Italian restaurant was opened by mother and son. They describe themselves as a simple, family run establishment offering traditional and authentic Italian cuisine. They are delighted and overwhelmed with the reception and feedback they have received from locals in Midlothian in their first year of operating and have already successfully won over a loyal customer base. They are constantly updating their menu and introducing new dishes and flavours to meet the needs of their customers.
Best Outside Caterer (sponsored by Ikea)
- Clan Caterers, Dalkeith - this is a family run business that is passionate about imparting their own sense of family values into the business and the food and service they provide. They have a strong belief to help the community within which they live and operate. This is evident through the long list of community groups and organisations they frequently work with and support. They are currently exploring a partnership with Dalkeith Miners whereby they will work with a charity to provide crisis food for those in the community most in need.
Best Local Food or Drink Producer (sponsored by EAE)
- Macsween, Bilston Glen, Loanhead - A brand leader in the food sector making traditional Scottish haggis in a range of sizes out of their purpose built haggis kitchen in Loanhead. Currently run by Jo and James Macsween, they are the third generation of the family to do so. In 1984 Macsween created the first commercially available vegetarian haggis. This now accounts for 20% of overall sales. And in 2009 they launched their 1min microwaveable versions of their award winning traditional and vegetarian haggis products. Macsween have won national awards for the quality of their product, the management of the business and the company's record on sustainability.
Best Customer Service (sponsored by Jewel & Esk College)
- Itihaas, Dalkeith - This Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant based in Dalkeith is part of the restaurant group which also operates the newly opened Radhuni Indian Restaurant in Loanhead. Matin Khan and his team at Itihaas are no strangers to winning awards. Their accolades to date include Eat Scotland Award for quality food and service, Spice Times Restaurant Awards and Bangladeshi Caterers Association. Proud sponsors of many local charity organisations and events including "Make a Wish Foundation" where owner Matin recently volunteered to get himself arrested and put in military prison to raise funds for this very worthy cause.
Best Place for a Takeaway (sponsored by Costco)
- Kebab Mehal, Dalkeith - Located on Dalkeith High Street serving Dalkeith and the surrounding town with their range of Pakistani and Indian food as well as their spicy kebabs and spicy take on pizza. They are a keen sponsor of numerous local charities and events. Future plans include beginning to accept on-line orders and a new look for the shop to meet with customer demand.
Event organisers also ran a competition to encourage people to submit their nomination for the awards - with one prize for postal nominations and another for nominations submitted online. The winner of the food and drink postal competition was Deborah McLaren from Dalkeith - she picked up a great prize hamper, packed with top quality produce kindly donated from local businesses. The winner of the online competition was Yvonne Notman who won free tickets for herself and a guest to last night's awards ceremony and dinner.
This project is part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Tyne Esk Leader 2007-2013 Programme.