A FOOD czar has been appointed to ensure quality Scottish food and drink is served at major public events in Scotland, such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.
Fiona Richmond takes up the post of Project Manager 2014, the first of its type in Scotland, with immediate effect, with a remit from the Scottish Government to help food and drink suppliers tender for contracts at the events.
Ms Richmond, 40, from Ayr, is currently UK market development manager of Scotland Food & Drink.
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Over 25 days, caterers at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will serve more than two million meals in the biggest event the industry will have ever tended.
A Food Charter for the Games, which will set standards for catering companies tendering for contracts and create a new benchmark for quality food and drink at major events, is currently being finalised by the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, and is expected to be launched early next year.
Once contracts have been drawn up, Ms Richmond will advise food and drink suppliers on how best to go through the tendering process.
She said: "Producers are enthused and ambitious in wanting to supply food and drink to these global events. Work to deepen relationships with the food service-sector is already well under way.
"I will make the path clear for producers to help deliver the very best Scotland has to offer and to ensure our world-class, local produce is routinely showcased at all levels during the Commonwealth Games.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity to showcase our nation as a land of food and drink. I am delighted to lead the project, on behalf of Scotland Food & Drink and partners, to ensure we capitalise on a year of incredible opportunity."
Asked if she will have influence over the fast-food outlets serving cheap burgers and chips that caused a furore among spectators during the UCI Track Cycling World Cup event at the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome last month, she replied: "I will be making a step change of what's on offer at venues at the moment.
"I really want everyone, international visitors and local people alike, to have a fantastic Scottish food experience and to take away a wonderful and lasting food memory from Glasgow."
Ms Richmond, whose favourite Scottish dish is a seafood platter, has been involved in food for much of her career.
At the age of 33 she was appointed the first executive director of Slow Food UK, the British arm of the international Slow Food Movement, which is based in Italy and launched in 1986 in protest at the opening of a McDonald's close to the Spanish steps in Rome.
Her £35,000-a-year post will support the implementation of the 2014 Food and Drink masterplan jointly devised by the Scottish Government and industry.
Scottish Food Minister, Richard Lochhead, said: "Fiona's appointment to manage the 2014 Action Plan will ensure the industry capitalises on the substantial economic opportunity the events will offer, through liaison with major food operators and suppliers."
Craig Lear, Glasgow 2014's catering boss, said: "From a Glasgow 2014 perspective, we welcome Fiona's appointment for what we believe to be a very important role going forward. This will provide a crucial point of contact for Scottish food and drink suppliers.
"It means a resource is there so suppliers can engage with major events such as the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games."