Stephen Jardine: Zero tolerance of bad food needed
THE timing couldn’t have been worse. In the midst of the summer holidays, a new survey reveals tourists from Australia, Norway and the USA rate UK local food as some of the worst in the world.
That is deeply depressing and disappointing, but we all know what lies behind the research. Unfortunately, bad experiences make more of an impact than good and there are still far too many places offering substandard food and dreadful service.
Scotland’s top chef says the conclusions cannot be ignored
“Tourism in Scotland is a major industry and I think we are short changing our visitors,” says Andrew Fairlie who holds two Michelin stars at his restaurant at Gleneagles.
Twenty years ago, no-one came to Scotland for the food, but research shows visitors now do expect a good experience from our land of food and drink. They also expect something authentic.
I’m just back from my first visit to Turkey and I was amazed by the quality of the food and hospitality.
Our hotel, the Hillside Su near Antalya had more than 20 nationalities staying, but managed to cater for all tastes and give a great introduction to local cuisine at the same time.
The whole experience was delivered by a well-trained, totally local workforce who took pride in their work and wanted to turn every first-time tourist into a regular.
How often can we say that here?
Fairlie believes the solution lies in our own hands. “We need to take a look at ourselves and what we think is acceptable,” he says and he’s right.
On behalf of those who turn their backs on the rest of the world and spend their cash here, those of us who call Scotland home need to develop a zero tolerance approach to nasty food and pathetic service.
My moment came when I walked into the café of a tourist attraction to be confronted by a grim menu of pies and toasties with staff taking up the tables, forcing visitors to stand. I found the manager and told him exactly what I thought. Moments later the tourists had a seat even if the food remained an embarrassment. It was a tiny triumph, but it felt good to stand up for what we all know Scottish hospitality can and should be.
None of this is difficult.
Tourists don’t want cutting edge Pacific-rim cuisine here, but they do expect great porridge, beef, bacon, lamb, shellfish and shortbread and if we can deliver that with some cheerful chat and a smile, the chances are our visitors will leave happy and come back again.
So let’s remember what we are good at when it comes to food and drink and give tourists what they want. Most importantly, if food and service are not good enough for us, they are certainly not good enough for the visitors and the responsibility for pointing that out lies with every single one of us.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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