CalMac are proud to be the first ferry operator to receive VisitScotland's 'Taste Our Best' accreditation
Caledonian MacBrayne has become the first ferry company to take VisitScotland's 'Taste Our Best' seal of approval to the high seas.
All our ships with Mariners caféterias on board larger ships have been awarded this accolade - this is particularly special as we embrace Scotland's Year of Food and Drink
The ships which have achieved this impressive award are MVs Isle of Lewis, Isle of Mull, Loch Seaforth, Caledonian Isles, Clansman, Finlaggan, Hebridean Isles, Hebrides, Isle of Arran, Lord of the Isles and Lochnevis. These vessels ply routes throughout the Western Isles, Argyll and Arran, serving variously Lewis, Harris, North Uist, South Uist, Skye, Barra, Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, Islay, Campbeltown, Arran and Eigg Muck Rum & Canna.
CalMac prides itself on providing an enjoyable passenger experience - at the heart of which is a food, drink and retail environment rich in local provenance.
More than 50 per cent of our Mariners menu is Scottish, offering the likes of Barra-landed Haddock, smoked salmon from Argyll Smokery in Dunoon, along with burgers sourced from meat from around Argyll and the famous CalMac'n'Cheese, made using cheddar from Lockerbie. Lighter bites include cakes from Cobbs Bakery, Loch Ness and freshly made sandwiches from local suppliers. And locally produced ales, lager and whiskies can also be found on board.
By using or stocking these ingredients and products, CalMac has made a commitment to both these premier food businesses and to introducing Scotland's fresh larder to customers. CalMac's spending with suppliers across the network is worth some £5.1 million.
The accreditation sees the Mariners caféterias join such illustrious company as The Three Chimneys in Skye, Martin Wishart at both Edinburgh and Loch Lomond, and The Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow, which are also Taste Our Best accredited.
"We have worked hard to put together a menu which not only satisfies our hungry customers, but which is value for money and promotes good Scottish produce," said Retail Operations Manager Kurt Hart. "Many of our suppliers are from the islands we serve - items like Stornoway black pudding, Arran ice cream and Barra-landed haddock - putting us, once more, at the heart of these rural communities; we are glad to both support these local businesses, as well as promote their goods to our customers."
Each ship's caféteria was assessed separately and all are individually certified, with each undergoing rigorous testing to ensure the high standards set by Visit Scotland were met.
Caledonian MacBrayne uses some 67 suppliers across its restaurants, coffee shops, bars and on-board shops. Of those, 62 are from Scotland and 44 of those are on the islands - whether it be local papers, tablet, real ale, chocolate or books.
In terms of the environment, this reduction in food miles can only be a good thing.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: "It's great to see CalMac going that extra mile to provide good quality food using exceptional Scottish produce, and we are delighted to be awarding the Taste Our Best accreditation to so many restaurants on board the ferries.
"Visitors to Scotland from home and overseas expect an exceptional food and drink experience while travelling, with authentic iconic and seasonal cuisine. In fact, sampling traditional dishes and local produce is the second top activity undertaken by visitors to Scotland.
"2015 is the Year of Food and Drink - a 12 month celebration of Scotland's outstanding natural larder and unique dining experiences. Food and drink is an integral part of Scotland's cultural identity and heritage with unrivalled produce, whether its fresh seafood from the coasts and estuaries to raising a glass to the world-famous whisky distilleries."
"We hope CalMac continues to build on this culinary success winning more Taste Our Best accreditations in the months to come."
Visit Scotland's Taste Our Best accreditation ensures that the customer will eat quality ingredients of Scottish provenance and the freshest seasonal produce.
It guarantees that at least 40% of the Scottish produce will be highlighted on the menu and staff will be well informed about the origins of each meal on your plate.
Taste Our Best, which replaces the EatScotland scheme, also helps to raise the profile of Scottish food as an important part of tourism, giving credit to those who are achieving high standards and encouraging others to aspire to them.
For more information, visit www.visitscotland.com/tasteourbest