Stephen Jardine: Catering the best possible taste

Outside catering has got more sophisticated over the years. Picture: TSPL
Outside catering has got more sophisticated over the years. Picture: TSPL
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When it comes to family connections to the food and drink sector, I look to my grandparents, writes Stephen Jardine

My grandfather was a cook with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but my grandmother fed people on an even greater scale, volunteering in the Queen of the South pie and Bovril stand at Palmerston Park.

On a good day, the pie would be hot and you wouldn’t get fat on your jumper. On a very good day, you wouldn’t be ill the next morning.

Despite the gastric Russian roulette of outside catering back then, we all tucked in because there wasn’t an alternative. Today things are very different.

Some clubs have healthy eating charters and Celtic even boast a Soil Association Food For Life catering mark for the high standard and good choice of food they now serve.

This weekend the scale of the change that has taken place in public event catering will be put to the test.

The Bannockburn Live celebration in Stirling marks the start of Scotland’s big year of events and a lot is being required and expected.

The tender documents for food providers specifically demand that, they should endeavour to purchase fresh, local, seasonal, sustainably sourced produce which considers standards of animal welfare”.

Those specifications have produced eating choices ranging from Jim Fairlie’s Perthshire Farmers and Producers to Kippen’s Extraordinary Sausage Company and soups and salads from the Three Sisters Bake.

This year’s event calendar provides amazing opportunities to showcase the food and drink Scotland has to offer, not just to the visitors flocking here for the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming but also to the Scots attending as well.

The foundation for all this is the Glasgow 2014 Food Charter which was drawn up by the Games organisers in conjunction with the food industry and the Scottish Government.

It sets standards that all caterers have been required to sign up to guaranteeing to provide ethical, safe, and healthy-living food served across the Games, with proven traceability.

“Glasgow 2014 anticipates serving over two million meals with the finest home grown produce providing the backbone of this huge catering operation”, said Scotland Food and Drink’s chief executive James Withers.

What’s most exciting is the long term change this can introduce.

If the good food promise is delivered by the Games, the standards in the Food Charter should become the benchmark for all catering at major outdoor events in Scotland in the years ahead.

Get it right and Scotland’s reputation for good food will get a major boost before the eyes of the world with all the future benefits that could bring.