Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) has launched the Highland Shortbread Showdown, a competition for tourism businesses across the Highlands to enter their version of the region’s favourite biscuit for the chance to be crowned the ultimate winner.
VILN, the Tourism Business Improvement District for Inverness and Loch Ness, is bringing together fellow Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) across the Highlands to involve business members within the region that have wonderful baking skills to take part in the Highland Shortbread Showdown.
The competition is part of a wider food and drink strategy to promote the Highlands as a foodie destination.
Member businesses from eight DMOs across the Highlands – Visit Moray Speyside; Visit Cairngorms; VisitNairn; Visit Dornoch; Venture North; Outdoor Capital of the UK; Skye Connect and Visit Inverness Loch Ness – have until the 6th February to register their interest online at https://www.visitinvernesslochness.com/shortbread-showdown.
At this stage, each of the eight DMOs will contact their members who have entered the competition to advise on how the shortbread will be judged locally.
The format of each local heat of the Highland Shortbread Showdown will be at the discretion of the individual DMO and will result in three member businesses going through from their region to the grand final which will be held at Inverness Cathedral on 25th March.
Speaking about the Highland Shortbread Showdown, Michael Golding, CEO of VILN, said:
“We know that there are lots of incredibly talented chefs and bakers all over the Highlands, and Visit Inverness Loch Ness, along with fellow Destination Management Organisations, is keen to promote our region as a fantastic place to eat and drink.
“The Highland Shortbread Showdown is a great way to do this with the grand final at Inverness Cathedral being free for anyone to attend and full of samples of food and drink from across the region.
“This competition is aimed at all businesses not just bakeries – whether you’re a receptionist in a hotel or teaching people how to kayak – this is open to everyone who works in, owns or runs a Highland business, if you think you have what it takes to bake the best shortbread.
“Let the baking commence!”
The Highland Shortbread Showdown has some high profile support, with corporate sponsors Scotland Food & Drink, Walker’s Shortbread and Dean’s.
The shortlisted shortbread biscuits will be judged by five well-known bakers from the Highlands – Kirsten Gilmour (KJ) from KJ’s Bothy Bakery (formerly the Mountain Café); Jeni Iannetta from Bad Girl Bakery; Craig Wilson aka The Kilted Chef; Steven Traill from Rain Bakery; and Andrew Mackay, Head Pastry Chef at Gleneagles.
Kilted Chef Craig Wilson, owner of Eat on the Green restaurant in Udny Green, added:
“I am really looking forward to being part of the judging panel for the Highland Shortbread Showdown.
“Shortbread is one of my ultimate favourites, there is nothing better than the smell of shortbread baking in the oven and I’m excited to taste the different flavour combinations the finalists come up with.
“Whether it’s their Granny’s tried and tested shortbread recipe or a twist on the traditional, creativity, taste and appearance will be key and I wish everyone taking part lots of luck and most importantly, I hope they have fun.”
Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food, Scotland Food & Drink, said:
“The Highlands is an area rich with tourism businesses dedicated to enhancing visitor experience by sharing our country’s traditions.
“This competition to bring together some of Scotland’s most rural communities and hard-working talented individuals over a shared love of shortbread is an initiative we’re really excited to be supporting.”
A recipe book of all the shortbread recipes that entered the Highland Shortbread Showdown will be on sale at the final event at Inverness Cathedral to raise funds for Highland Hospice and there will be fundraising activity during all of the local heats for the charity.