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Caithness News Bulletins October 2003

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Ainsley at Dunrobin
Dunrobin Castle provided a magnificent backdrop for a day of culinary events featuring celebrity chef Ainsley Harriot.

Organised jointly by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) and Ross and Cromarty Enterprise (RACE), as part of the Highland Food and Drink Festival, the day started with a showcase of local food produce from across the two areas.

Students from the North Highland College had prepared canapés, based on the winning entry in a competition for Modern Apprentices run to coincide with the event.

Left to right  Kelly MacKay, Ainsley, Sean Cunningham, and Kirsty Newlands. Kelly is studying SVQL1 Food Preparation and Cookery at North
Highland College, Dornoch Centre. Sean and Kirsty are both studying SVQL2 Food Preparation and Cooking at North Highland College, Thurso.

The highlight of the afternoon was a cookery demonstration by Ainsley, who entertained the audience in excess of 200 from the moment he bounded on to stage. The winners of the competition, Kim Innes from Tomich Restaurant, Invergordon and Jim Cowie of the Captain's Galley in Scrabster, ably assisted him. Local school children were delighted to be asked on stage to sample the food. Many visitors took the opportunity to obtain signed copies of Ainsley’s latest book “All New Meals in Minutes”, which is to be officially launched shortly.

The evening event saw 200 guests sit down to a formal dinner in a marquee in the grounds of the castle. The menu had been selected by Ainsley, using recipes from the new book and featuring local produce such as smoked salmon, venison and Scottish raspberries. It was prepared and cooked by a team headed by Royal Marine Hotel, Brora chef Iain Fraser and with much encouragement from Ainsley himself. A number of local hotels, along with the North Highland College, provided staff for the evening. One of the main objectives of the day was to encourage young people to see hospitality as a creative and exciting career choice.

According to Anne Sutherland, head of skills development at CASE, "This was a truly successful and highly enjoyable event for everyone who took part. This was in no small part due to the very professional, enthusiastic and fun contribution of Ainsley, the star of the event. Among the many benefits was the demonstration to employers and Modern Apprentices, both young and not so young, of what can be achieved with the benefit of good training and a dedicated approach. It was also a fantastic opportunity to showcase the produce of the area and to promote networking opportunities between suppliers and their potential customers."