Name: Christopher Trotter.

Age: 64.

What is your business called?

Christopher Trotter.

Where is it based?


What does it produce, what services does it offer?

I write cookery box books, run team-building events through food and arrange food tours and food events.

To whom does it sell?

European and American visitors as well as indigenous Scots and businesses who want to learn about Scottish food and cooking.

How many employees?

One - me.

When was it formed?

The best place to start properly is in 2003 when I closed Scotland’s Larder, a restaurant, shop and food exhibition, which was on the edge of Upper Largo.

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Why did you take the plunge?

I became increasingly passionate about the fact that Scottish food was not appreciated enough in our own country. We had become the laughing stock of the travelling world for our poor-quality food and I wanted to tell everybody that we actually produce some of the highest quality and most diverse food and drink on the planet. I wanted to tell them any way I could - through books, classes, helping businesses and other organisations improve their working methods and introducing them to the wonderful producers on their doorstep.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Scotland’s Larder was in effect an attempt to do the same thing but I didn’t really enjoy employing 18 people at the height of the summer. I just wasn’t doing what I wanted to do anymore.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I didn’t get funding but I did get work so I could set off and start. I had sufficient jobs and consultancy contracts lined up, for example with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the National Trust for Scotland. HIE were really good: they got me trying to encourage small businesses and hotels to make better use of local produce. In Dumfries and Galloway I worked with another consultant trying to analyse what they could do food-wise. In the Borders I advised the highly successful Borders Food Network, which gives me enormous pleasure.

What was your biggest break?

Being invited to join the Guild of Food Writers. Their strength and camaraderie gave me the confidence that not only was there was a market for my ideas but that I could write. I was able to get a publisher and wrote two books, The Whole Hog and The Whole Cow, which gave me a great deal more gravitas. My vegetable books (Cauliflower, Beetroot, Kale, Tomato, Courgette and Carrot) came next. We had our guild AGM recently and I was delighted to volunteer as a mentor to help other people get that same experience.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I experience the sheer joy of waking up in the morning and looking at spectacular views of the Fife coast, which has, to my mind, the best scenery on the planet.

Every day is different and every day I enjoy meeting somebody interesting from whom I might learn and who might learn from me. The dedication in my new seafood book, the self-published Coasts and Waters, is to a lady called Alison Sykora whom I met a long time ago. She reappeared recently when she came to do a course in Fife and came to stay. We had wonderful conversations about sustainable food production and consumption. She lives on the West Coast of Scotland, where there is a wonderful movement encouraging simple, sustainable food. I come away from these conversations feeling greatly enriched and ready to keep up the work. Knowing that there are other people out there doing the same thing makes it feel worthwhile.

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What do you least enjoy?

Getting emails from people who are trying to sell me things.

What are your ambitions for the business?

To go on writing books and arranging more food tours. I would really like to work more with Scottish schools helping them teach children how to cook, and with businesses to strengthen their understanding of wonderful Scottish produce.

I am also working with St Andrews University on their transition to sustainability and hoping to broaden the project out to help undergraduate students understand Fife’s historical and current food culture. I’d like to give them a better understanding of how to cook and use seasonal produce.

What are your top five priorities?

Business-wise to keep in the black. Trying to get through Covid as, obviously, events, workshops and food tours have been cancelled or postponed. I’m also trying to sell more books. I brought the publication of Coasts and Waters forward to tie in with the fact that 2021 is Scotland’s year of Coasts and Waters, however, I was due to publish a book about leeks, which got pushed to one side, so I’ll launch it soon as well.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish Governments do that would help?

I would really like to see more of an understanding of seasonality in our food. I would like to teach awareness of food and cooking and, when buying food for schools and hospitals, would love to see better and more local procurement. With a bit of effort it really can be done and must be taken more seriously. I had a friend who came out of hospital recently who told me that she thought the food was atrocious; this really is intolerable as the first medicine in life is surely food. It is all very well giving people endless prescriptions but we really do owe people who have no choice but to be in hospital, care homes, prison or school better food.

What is the most valuable lesson that you have learned?

To speak less and listen more.

How do you relax?

I listen to music, get out on my bicycle, and enjoy the company of good friends round the table with food we have prepared ourselves and some nice wine.