Brenda Anderson launched Tasting Scotland in 2012 with the aim of providing a wide range of luxury culinary tours and tasting events to showcase the world class food that Scotland has to offer. Extremely passionate about food and drink, Brenda is also one of only two UK based Ambassadors for the World Food Travel Association.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to start Tasting Scotland?
I have always been a total foodie. Not being able to sew shattered my dream to be a Home Economics teacher. Instead I studied Catering and Hospitality at Aberdeen College. As fate would have it, just over ten years later I returned to the same college and began a teaching career that spanned almost twenty years.
In between studying and making it into teaching, I spent 7 years at the beautiful 5 star Gleneagles Hotel, with a year off in the middle living and working on the Gold Coast in a restaurant within the Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort in Australia.
Tasting Scotland was conceived on a walking food tour in New York in 2004, but it wasn’t born until August 2012 when I left my role as Head of Food Studies at the City of Glasgow College. In between times numerous gastro based holidays throughout the world and feedback from tourists that they were only experiencing ‘bland international cuisine’ when coming to Scotland watered the Tasting Scotland seed and kicked me into action!
2. What has been the highlight of developing Tasting Scotland so far?
Seeing people smile. From artisan food producers to whisky distillers, from craft beer brewers to chefs there is nothing more pleasing that being the conduit between them and our food and drink loving clients. As they tell their stories and let people taste their products there’s a definite magic in the air. There’s fun, there’s laughter, their authenticity and there it is…..Scotland on a plate or in a glass. It’s infectious, and I love it. I love doing my bit for the country too. I want Scotland to be THE next big food travel destination.
3. How many different tours do you offer?
There are about 10 on paper and about 150 in my head! The vast majority of what I do is bespoke and fully customised.
4. Do you have a favourite tour?
I’m an Aberdonian living in Glasgow having worked in Perthshire (and Skye for a short spell) and spend most of my life departing Edinburgh on my tours, so I am pretty happy being anywhere in the country – providing there’s great food and drink! My soft spot is up the west coast and any tour that links in seafood. I thank my lucky stars that I have Scotland’s beautiful scenery as the view from my office.
5. Can you tell us about the World Food Travel Association and what it means for your business?
For the past 3 years I have been the WFTA Ambassador for Scotland. The association is based in Portland, Oregan and is the world’s leading authority on food and tourism. There is much to be done to help put Scotland firmly on the map for the sheer quality of its food. Scotland Food and Drink are doing a brilliant job and VisitScotland have helped in particular by having had two separate ‘Year of Food and Drink’ focus theme years. My own aim is to help promote Scotland as a world class food and drink destination and to promote the many and varied services of the WFTA.
And just for fun…
6. Tell us something about your favourite holiday destination?
Italy. They love food and what it stands for.
7. What is your all time favourite food?
I love smoked food; meat, poultry, seafood, fish and the list goes on. I love a day in the garden with my home food smokers Freddie (an old filing cabinet), Woody (an old wooden cupboard), Tennesse (a proper professional smoker), and Brinky (a Brinkmann Water Smoker).
8. What is the nicest compliment you have ever received?
Smile less. (Usually by professional photographers!).
9. Can you tell us something that might surprise us?
I am going to write a book called ‘Go Stack Cans’. Everyone who knows me well, knows how much I absolutely detest poor, surly or rude service when in restaurants or from anyone who is dealing with the public. It’s not to be derogatory to those who work in food stores and literally do stack shelves, but to highlight the unnecessary damage such people do to the industries who work hard every single day to promote, showcase and serve Scotland (and that’s not even mentioning the damage to the visitors). At least cans don’t have feelings. Don’t want to smile and be nice? Do something else. Rant over!
10. What is your favourite quote?
‘Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right’.
By Henry Ford