Anyone who doubts the ambition, commitment and passion of Scotland's young people could learn something from those who entered the Young Talent category of the Scotland Food And Drink Excellence Awards 2012.
Previously only open to chefs, the category was expanded this year to acknowledge talent across the sector. As one of the judges, meeting the young finalists was a thoroughly uplifting experience.
Jamie Hutcheon left school at 15 but he has been director of his own company since the age of 17. Now 21, his chocolate-making business, Cocoa Ooze, has an annual turnover of £200,000. After completing a course in hospitality he worked as a trainee chef at Aberdeen's five-star Marcliffe Hotel and also with Beverley Dunkley, one of the UK's leading chocolate experts from the Barry Caillebaut Chocolate Academy. Hutcheon decided there was a gap in the market for a luxury chocolate producer and founded Cocoa Ooze, which he initially ran from his mother's kitchen. He uses regional ingredients such as cream from Inverurie and freeze-dried strawberries from Fraserburgh.
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