THE GARDEN OF SCOTLAND
East Lothian leads the way in top-quality, home-made produce.
The East Lothian Food & Drink Business Improvement District (BID), is the first of its kind in the world, sharing resources, marketing and distribution. We focus on five leading lights of the collaboration and find out why East Lothian has something to boast about.
LUCA’S ICE CREAM, MUSSELBURGH A third-generation, family-run business that dates back to 1908, Luca’s ice cream is famed throughout the county. The original recipe of company founder Luca Scappaticcio is still in use, and while the traditional flavours of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate still prevail, newer kids on the ice cream block include New York Lime Cheesecake and Toffee Fudgy Wudgy. You’ll find Luca’s produce all over East Lothian and Edinburgh and if you’re lucky you’ll be served from a vintage Rolls Royce ice cream van that tours around local resorts and parks. “It’s a generation game, both for the family and our customers,” says marketing director Clark Whitehead, who is married to Luca’s granddaughter Leonora. “Mums and dads, grannies and grandpas are all reliving the Luca experience.”the Luca café/ice cream salon on Musselburgh’s High Street is a popular meeting place for morning coffee, but it’s the ice cream that is the draw – and a delicious one at that. www.s-luca.co.uk
NB GIN, NORTH BERWICK What started as a hobby for gin-lovers Steve and Viv Muir has turned into a successful, global product. Viv admits that since the company was set up in 2013, things have really escalated. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” she says. “When Steve and I started we were distilling gin with test tubes and a pressure cooker in our kitchen! Now we’re supplying markets in London and as far afield as China and Singapore.” It was very much a leap of faith for the Muirs. Both were successful lawyers and to finance the business plus build a new distillery in North Berwick, pensions were cashed in and belts were tightened as the couple waited to see if their venture would take off. Take off? It’s virtually flying! www.nbgin.com
BLACK & GOLD RAPESEED OIL, HADDINGTON Louise Elder’s oils come from 160 acres of rapeseed farmed at Stevenson Mains near Haddington. Louise heads the BID conglomerate, and believes its “one for all and all for one” ethos is the secret behind its success. “We’re all working for each other and any new business joining the venture knows the support it will receive will be second to none,” she says. “We can tackle common problems, create a collective identity and a more vibrant economy.” The Elder family have been involved in grapeseed farming for over 25 years. Black & Gold Oil made its first appearance in 2010 and comes in its original form as well as the Dijon Vinaigrette version. The mustard flavouring in the latter will give a nice kick to any salad. Thanks to BID and Louise’s entrepreneurial skills, her produce can be found the length and breadth of the UK keeping the East Lothian flag flying proudly. www.blackandgoldoil.co.uk
THE CHOCOLATE TREE, HADDINGTON The success of the business built up by Ali and Friederike Gower can be summed up in four words – Product of the Year. This accolade was awarded at the recent Scottish Food and Drinks Excellence Awards, underlining the Gowers’ aim to produce delicious, quality chocolate at affordable prices. They work directly with cacao growers, importing beans direct to their Haddington chocolate factory. “Whisky Nibs, the product that won the award, is made from Islay whisky and Peruvian cacao,” says Ali. “We also won Chocolatier of the Year 2017 so we are feeling quite pleased with ourselves!” The Chocolate Tree is part of the Scottish Chocolatiers Network, of which Ali is secretary. “We have stayed true to our vision for the business, and worked hard,” he continues. “We don’t do things the easy way, and we have a great passion for what we do. Our definition of success is happiness, and fulfilment from our work. We achieve this by ensuring that our business is making a positive impact.” www.chocolatetree.co.uk
KNOPS BEER COMPANY, DIRLETON A graduate of the Brewing and Distilling degree course at Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt university, Robert Knops set up his own business in 2010, moving to a purpose-built brewery at Archerfield Estates, a couple of miles west of Dirleton. The Estates restored the historic walled gardens and created a new building that houses a bar/restaurant, farm shop and the Knops Brewery. Being in a brand new site, Robert can enjoy brand new equipment and state-of- the-art bottling and labelling, ensuring that everything is done on one premises. Robert’s output is approximately 2,700 litres of which 65% is draught, the remainder bottled. He also supplies ales for the estate itself, labelled Archerfield Fine Ales. One of his own ales has a local connection, Musselburgh Broke. It will have ring of familiarity to those who frequent the town’s racecourse! www.knopsbeer.co.uk