Brenda has an appetite for travel
Putting cream of Scotland’s food on the map
A Rutherglen woman is helping put Scottish food on the map - and if she has her way, there won’t be a deep fried Mars bar in sight.
Brenda Anderson is Scotland’s Ambassador for the World Food Travel Association as well as running expert- guided tours and ‘ foodie’ events through her Tasting Scotland business.
The 44-year-old has travelled the world sampling the finest cuisine different culture’s have to offer.
But she reckons Scotland more than holds it’s own when it comes to food, even if people’s perceptions are very different from the reality.
“Scotland has a very bad reputation as the sick man of Europe,” she says.
“But that’s just because of bad choices, not because that’s all we’ve got to eat here.
“We actually have one of the world’s healthiest larders right here on our doorstep. Between the land, sea and rivers, everything is bountiful. We’re damn lucky, we should be making better use of it.
“The deep-fried Mars Bars was the most damaging thing to happen to us. One fish and chip shop benefitted from it, but the country has suffered.
“I’m doing my best to turn it around and remove that image.”
Ori g i na ll y f rom Ellon in Aberdeenshire, Brenda’s career has taken her to places like Gleneagles, the Marriott Hotel and even the River Cafe in London.
She became chief lecturer in food services at the City of Glasgow College before starting her own business in 2012.
Brenda, who moved to Rutherglen in 2007, reckons she was inspired to showcase Scottish foods by the many holidays she has enjoyed over the years.
“I went on a lot of ‘foodie’ holidays and when we were doing the history stuff, I was a bit like ‘whatever’,” she laughs.
“I just never got it, but tell me about the food and I got it right away. “Food says so much about people and a country’s heritage. You can tell so much about a country through their food.
“The country that blew me away was Peru. I wasn’t expecting it, the food was just phenomenal. My partner and I went in 2009 and I was amazed by Lima, right on the water and the amazing sea food they had. There was a massive Japanese influence as well.
“Further inland, there was superb cuisine and then the Andes, with their incredible fruits.
“I found Melbourne had a really cool food scene and Tuscany will always be one of my favourite destinations. Cape Cod as well. There’s really been nowhere I can say I haven’t enjoyed.
“I’m very passionate about travelling and I wanted people to get the same flavour for a country I have got on my journeys.”
While haggis and deep- fried anything may be what Scotland has become synonymous with, Brenda is in no doubt what our top product really is.
“For us, our seafood is second to none. That, to me, is the most phenomenal product we have. “If you can get something not long after it’s been caught, a nice glass of wine, with good friends, that’s just bliss.”
Brenda has recently launched specialist tasting events and away days for the corporate market to highlight what Scotland can offer the palate.
She has devised two different packages. The multi-stop away days can incorporate a range of activities including meeting award-winning food artisans, in-situ tastings, cooking with professional chefs, whisky blending and convivial dining.
The second is the “Deliciously Different” events, held in iconic venues which include a range of options such as traditional cheese and wine tastings as well as whiskies paired with food scientifically analysed to match.
Both tours have been endorsed by Michelin star chef, Andrew Fairley.
Brenda hopes they will not just inspire visitors to the country: “Really it’s about giving something to visitors, but at the same time not forgetting the locals. “There are lots of businesses here screaming for something different. “Traditionally dining was the focal point for bringing together families and in the same way we are helping bring together colleagues and businesses.
“Eating is often part of corporate events but when, as a Scottish business, you have such an incredible larder sitting right on your doorstep, it makes sense to use it to its full advantage.”
Brenda can call on contacts and chefs all over the country, but she admits she has a special place in her heart for one venue not far from her Parkhill Drive home.
“I must admit, the Black Poppy on Stonelaw Road, I do like their stuff. It’s a nice cafe and the people are very friendly. “They always seem to have little artisan products and craft beers. Sometimes you need to wait a wee bit longer but that’s because it’s fresh and you know it’s going to be good - I love that.”
Brenda started Tasting Scotland in 2012 thanks to support from Business Gateway.
She said: “I have the very best of contacts in this industry. There’s no part of Scotland without a chef or producer that I cannot link in with, so I knew exactly what I wanted, and could offer, but it was about learning how to make the idea a reality.
“From the start I worked with Business Gateway attending all its workshops – and some of them twice.
“They have always been passionate about my venture, working closely with me to grow my business from verifying my idea was viable to helping me access the international market. Their help has been essential, keeping me focused and on track over the past three years.”
For more information on Tasting Scotland visit: www.tastingscotland. com.
Find out how Business Gateway Lanarkshire can help your business by visiting www. bgateway. com/ lanarkshire or call 01236 884825.
Mars Wars The deep-fried Mars Bar was a wonderful marketing tool, but less good for Scotland’s culinary image, according to Brenda
Fishy tale Scotland has one of the world’s best natural larders according to Brenda, with fresh fish among our very best products
Food for thought Brenda Anderson is Scotland’s Ambassador for the World Food Travel Association
Support Brenda’s work has been endorsed by Michelen Star chef, Andrew Fairley
Food trip Brenda was particularly impressed with Peruvian food on her journeys