Judges said the iconic hotel beside Waverley station at No. 1 Princes Street, part of the Rocco Forte group, had “continued its delivery of world-class Scottish hospitality.“
“Several major new brand level projects were introduced during the year, including those focused on improving the family experience, greater use of local organic and nutritious food, and enhancement of its line of spa products,” they added.
Opened in 1902, the Balmoral has 168 rooms and 20 suites. Its Number One restaurant has retained a Michelin star for 14 consecutive years. Ross Sneddon added a third triumph for the hotel when he was named Patisserie Chef of the Year.
Runners-up for the Group Hotel title were Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel at Aberfoyle and Blythswood Square in Glasgow, and for Restaurant of the Year the other finalists were Cafe St Honore in Edinburgh and The Restaurant at Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Island near Oban.
As Scotland’s annual competition combining the catering, hospitality and tourism industries, the CIS Excellence Awards are seen as the ultimate accolade for Scottish hotels, restaurants, gastro pubs, chefs and other organisations. The awards were presented on Thursday night at a gala dinner attended by more than 500 guests at Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel.
The Torridon, set in 58 acres of parkland at the end of a sea loch at Achnasheen in Wester Ross, took the Independent Hotel of the Year title ahead of other finalists the Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Island, and the Killiecrankie Hotel in Perthshire.
There was success at last for Ian McAndrew, Chef-Proprietor of Blackaddie Hotel at Sanquhar, near Dumfries, who was voted Chef of the Year. Blackaddie is a 16th century house beside the River Nith.
McAndrew has twice been a finalist in the CIS Awards and twice runner-up as the Good Food Guide’s Scottish Restaurant of the Year.
Judges described him as “one of the true leaders in Scotland. With a solid reputation, he has trained and developed many respected chefs and given so much to the profession over the years.”
The junior chef category, introduced as part of an industry drive to attract more young people into the sector, was won by 25-year-old Adam Newth from Arbroath, Chef-Proprietor of the Tayberry Restaurant which he opened in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, last November. The award was open to chefs aged 25 and under working at any professional level in Scottish hospitality.
There was a special award for Neil Thomson, Chief Executive of the Federation of Chefs Scotland, who has been actively involved in the Scottish hospitality industry for more than half a century.
The Lifetime Excellence Award went to Bruce Sangster, CIS Chef of the Year in 2009 when he gained the first Michelin Star for his eponymous restaurant in Elie, Fife.
New Restaurant of the Year went to IX at the Chester Hotel in Aberdeen’s Queen’s Road, and the Pub Excellence Award to the Lewis family’s seven-room budget hotel Mhor 84 in Balquhidder glen near Strathyre.
The Awards’ advisory board includes Andrew Fairlie of the eponymous restaurant at Gleneagles Hotel, Wendy Barrie of the Scottish Food Guide, Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland chief executive David Cochrane, Stephen Carter MBE (former Managing Director of Cameron House on Loch Lomond and recently appointed General Manager of the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews) , and James Thomson OBE, owner of Edinburgh’s Prestonfield Hotel.
Young Chef of the Year - Sponsored by Brakes Scotland
Winner: Adam Newth, The Tayberry Restaurant, Broughty Ferry
Finalists: Jonathan Ferguson, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Gleneagles, Perthshire
Mikaela Wright, The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
The Healthier Scotland Award - Sponsored by the healthyliving award in association with NHS Health Scotland
Finalists: SUBWAY Scotland, 108 George Street, Edinburgh
Aramark at Aegon
Business Innovation - Sponsored by Bidvest Scotland
Winner: Gusto Artisan Foods
Highly Commended: Eat Balanced Ltd, Glasgow
Finalist: Pickering’s Gin, Edinburgh
Banqueting and Events Chef - Sponsored by ASA Recruitment and PIDY
Winner: Craig Gibb, The Orde Food Company, Kelso
Finalists: Bruce Lawrence, Entie
James Murphy, Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow
Training and Employee Retention - Sponsored by Caterer.com
Winner: Ibis Edinburgh Centre, South Bridge
Finalists: Elior UK
Pub Excellence - Sponsored by Heinz Foodservice
Winner: Mhor 84, Balquhidder
Finalists: The Crinan Seafood Bar
Boat Inn, Aboyne
Patisserie Chef - Sponsored by Callebaut
Winner: Ross Sneddon, The Balmoral Hotel
Finalists: Chris Stewart, The Edinburgh School of Food and Wine
Helen Vass, Number 16 Restaurant, Glasgow
Iain Baillie, Tantrum Doughnuts, Glasgow
Independent Hotel - Co-sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance and DAM
Winner: The Torridon, Wester Ross
Finalists: Isle of Eriska Hotel & Spa, Argyll
Killiecrankie Hotel, Perthshire
Special Award - Sponsored by Compass in Scotland
Winner: Neil Thomson
Sustainable Business - Co-sponsored by CH&Co Group and Seafood Scotland
Winner: The Captain’s Galley, Scrabster
Finalists: BaxterStorey, Edinburgh
The Torridon Hotel, Wester Ross
Group Hotel - Sponsored by Gram
Winner: The Balmoral Hotel
Runners-up: Blythswood Square, Glasgow (Principal Hayley Group)
The Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel, Aberfoyle
Hospitality Educator - Sponsored by Entier
Winner: Gordon McIntyre, City of Glasgow College
Finalists: Gary Maclean, City of Glasgow College
Ian Pirrie, Edinburgh School of Food and Wine
Restaurant of the Year - Sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions
Winner: Number One at the Balmoral, Edinburgh
Finalists: Cafe St Honore, Edinburgh
Isle of Eriska, Argyll
Restaurant Newcomer - Sponsored by Sodexo
Winner: IX Restaurant at the Chester Hotel, Aberdeen
Finalists: Firebrick Brasserie, Lauder
The Printing Press, Edinburgh
Chef of the Year - Sponsored by Baxter Storey
Winner: Ian Macandrew, Blackaddie Hotel, Sanquhar
Finalists: Fred Berkmiller, L’Escargot Bleu, Edinburgh
Alan Gibb, Gleneagles
Bruce Lawrence, Entier
Employee of the Year - Co-sponsored by Mazars and The Royal Bank of Scotland
Winner: John Forteith, Head of Business Development, Bidvest Scotland
Finalists: Stephanie Stubbs, Marketing Director, Hickory Food, Edinburgh
Aneta Broncel, Kitchen Manager, The Edinburgh School of Food and Wine
Lifetime Excellence Award - Sponsored by Braehood Foods
Winner: Bruce Sangster
Organisers of the Royal Highland Show (23-26 June), the country's biggest celebration of the best in farming, food and rural life, have released details of the new bars and licensed restaurants showgoers can look forward to at the four day event, held at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston.
The changes to the licensed premises are in line with recent upgrades to the award-winning event, including last year's launch of Scotland's Larder Live, and new for this year is the 13th Avenue Arcade, an upmarket shopping area with an eclectic range of lifestyle products for him, her and home.
Designed to provide showgoers with more variety, the licensed premises located around the 110 acre showground will give visitors plenty of places to relax in between the endless activities and attractions on offer at the Show.
The Stetson, the Show's first country music themed bar and licensed food outlet, will sit behind the Lowland Hall. Managed by Gilchrist's, the people who run the popular Merry Monk bar on 4th Avenue, and, with a capacity of 1000, there will be plenty of room for line dancing when the live country music starts up.
For those with a taste for real ale, craft beer and cider, Eden Brewery will be returning to host the Real Ale bar in the Lifestyle Village, the German Bar, run by Gilchrists, will be back on 4th Avenue (opposite the Forestry Arena) and there will be an always popular Cider Bar in the Countryside Area.
General Manager of award winning Michelin-starred restaurant and bar Galvin at Windows and host of Channel 4’s First Dates, Sirieix has encapsulated the keys to ideal customer service in his own Good Service Charter.
“Service,” he says, “is like a religion. It takes passion, commitment and exquisite attention to detail - but the good news that is that excellence is within anybody’s grasp. It’s something you can learn.”
Sirieix describes his Charter as “a set of principles and practices to follow that will define exceptional customer service for your business”. It reveals how great customer service drives long-term business survival and profitability.
As General Manager of Galvin at Windows - the Michelin-starred restaurant on the 28th floor of London’s Park Lane Hilton - Sirieix is a multiple award winner, stacking up one title after another - including Personality, Educator, Manager and Legend of the year at industry awards in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The Good Service Charter is a product of Sirieix’s own company, Fred Sirieix AOS ltd - and is now available on Fred Sirieix’s website (www.fredsirieix.com)
Visitors to the site will be able to download a free-of-charge change model - The ‘Good Service’ Pyramid - designed for use with the Good Service Charter.
The complete Good Service Charter can be downloaded at a cost of £50. 50% of the Charter’s profits go to a charity set up by Sirieix and DMTF, The Right Course - designed to teach young offenders professional kitchen and service skills that will help them get jobs in the hospitality industry after completing their prison terms. (therightcourse.org.uk)
Businesses and individuals who want to take the training further, can sign up for The Good Service programme - a series of face-to-face training offers ranging from a one-day introductory course to a long term immersion programme.
The long term immersion programme leads to a “Passport to Good Service” for successful team members that will be recognised by approved organisations and customers throughout the UK.