Brenda has an ap­petite for travel

Putting cream of Scot­land’s food on the map

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page -

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

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