Crest of a wave! CalMac proud to be first the ferry operator to receive VisitScotland '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.
Seven of the company's Mariners cafeterias on board the larger ships have been awarded this accolade - particularly special as CalMac prepares to embrace Scotland's Year of Food and Drink. Two others are in the process of being assessed and, once in service, MV Loch Seaforth will also be appraised by the judges.
The ships which have achieved this impressive award are MVs Isle of Lewis, Hebrides, Caledonian Isles, Finlaggan, Hebridean Isles, Isle of Arran and Lord of the Isles. 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 and Arran.
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 the 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, Caledonian MacBrayne 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 £5.188 million.
The accreditation sees the Mariners cafeterias 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 cafeteria was assessed separately and all are individually certified, with each undergoing rigorous testing to ensure the high standards set by VisitScotland were met.
Caledonian MacBrayne uses some 67 suppliers across its cafeterias, 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."
VisitScotland'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
Onboard services manager Craig Harkness, centre, joined by the steward and galley teams on board the MV Caledonian Isles, proudly displays the ship's accreditation certificate and some of the tasty fayre which helped clinch the award
The suite of seven certificates
A selection of local produce on the Arran route
Notes to editors:
1) Further information about CalMac is available at www.calmac.co.uk
2) Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL). These names are used under licence from Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL). The lion rampant device is used by CFL with the permission of CMAL.
• VisitScotland is Scotland's national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
• The organisation has three key roles:
1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
2. To provide information - and inspiration - to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
• VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
• The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
• According to a recent Deloitte study, the tourism economy supports 270,000 jobs in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the tourism economy contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
• For VisitScotland's press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
• Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
• For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
• For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
Year of Food and Drink 2015
• 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland's natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
• Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
• A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland's food and drink industries - from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
• For more information, visit www.visitscotland.com/foodanddrink