Foodie flagship event of the autumn, Eat Drink Discover Scotland, has teamed up with celebrity chef Mark Greenaway to embark on a mission - to discover the secret ingredients that Scottish cooks simply have to have in the cupboards.
This week's search takes Mark to Dundee and Angus - an area known for mouth-watering treats from seafood and rich meats, to pastries and soft fruits.
The public is being invited to reveal their favourite Scottish secret ingredients by detailing what they are and where they're purchased. The criteria ranges from herbs to condiments, alcohol to meats and even vegetables, providing they are either grown or produced in Scotland. Applicants are being encouraged to be as unpredictable, creative and unusual as possible. Mark and the Eat Drink Discover team will draw up a shortlist of the best entrants who will be invited to join him in a cook-off at the event, where the winner will be chosen. The producer or retailer who supplied the winner with their secret ingredient will be given a free exhibition stand at next year's event.
Local bakers Song Scones are setting a fantastic example for entrants with their innovative use of locally sourced ingredients - scone flavours include red Thai chicken made with coconut milk from Dundee based Indian wholesalers, Paradise Fruits, and mushroom and whisky sauce. Kerri Rodgers, the brains behind Song Scones, said: "The most important thing for me about using local produce is supporting local businesses and the fact that the quality of their goods tends to be a bit better than supermarkets."
The Eat Drink Discover Scotland team visited some local Dundee stores to find out what local produce was in stock. Award winning local butchers Scott Brothers had a phenomenal selection of locally farmed meats - with beef from Ian Sim of Kincraig Farm, Brechin, who rears the cattle to the exact specifications that Scott Brothers require; pigs bought from Mark and Guthrie Batchelor, Carnoustie and lamb bought from Forfar market. Co-owner George Jarron said: "It's really important to us that we stock good quality locally sourced meats - we always have done since my grandfather started the business in 1935. He supported local markets and we have always done the same."
Dobbies stocked an impressive range of local delicacies including eggs from S & M Gray in Arbroath, flour and oatmeal from Aberfeldy Oatmeal and preserves such as Mrs Bridges and Maw Broon's from Mackay's in Arbroath. Jo Warner, restaurant manager said: 'Sustainability is very important to Dobbies and we are constantly trying to promote organic food and reduce our carbon footprint. By stocking local produce everyone benefits - the consumer gets quality local food and we can be kinder to the environment by minimising delivery journeys.'
Eat Drink Discover Scotland, taking place at the Royal Highland Centre between 12th and 14th September, will bring to life the rich diversity of Scotland's brimming larder by featuring exhibitors from the length and breadth of the country. One for the foodies, it will be offering something for every palate, plate and price range and, with a regional focus, it will be providing opportunities for smaller rural food producers to share centre stage with more established brands. The weekend will also include demonstrations and master classes such as chocolate workshops, cocktail making, game butchery and craft bakery.
Mark Greenaway said: "It's all too easy to keep using the same ingredients for the same dishes, so this competition is all about discovering new ingredients and new ways of using them. I'll be sharing my favourite products from the length and breadth of Scotland on my website's blog, suggesting ways to make the most of them. But I want others to follow suit and share their favourites with me. This is what food and cooking should be about and, with Scotland's truly amazing larder, I'm sure I'll find it extremely difficult to choose a winner."
For more information on the competition visit www.eatdrinkdiscoverscotland.co.uk