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Caledonian Sleeper serves up the best of Scotland Published: Monday, 11 January 2016 10:14

--Rural Affairs Minister samples taste of the Highlands--

The Caledonian Sleeper tickled the taste buds of Scotland’s Food Secretary Richard Lochhead with a tour of local Highland supplier RSF’s Dingwall kitchens on 8 January.

The visit, arranged as part of the Caledonian Sleeper’s commitment to local businesses, saw the Cabinet Secretary tour the facility before meeting with local suppliers and tasting dishes from two Highland suppliers to the service - Groam Farm and Summer Isles Foods.

Mr Lochhead said: “Scotland’s a fantastic natural larder is attracting a worldwide reputation for being a land of food and drink. The overnight Caledonian Sleeper between London Euston and the Scottish Highlands is one of the world’s greatest railway journeys. Tourists and travellers must be able to enjoy what we produce on our doorstep and I’m pleased that the Caledonian Sleeper is supporting local businesses and showcasing great Scottish food on this flagship rail service. It’s an example I would like all kinds of transport operators to take on board – showcasing Scottish food is a winning recipe for travellers.

“It’s been great getting a tour of the facilities here at RSF’s production kitchen and meeting some of the chefs and local producers along with Serco who hold the rail contract and RSF’s enterprising owners. I wish them further success. Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink may now be officially over but I’m determined that the momentum created in 2015 continues to gather pace for many years to come.”

The Caledonian Sleeper has a commitment to sourcing the best of Scottish food and drink and partnered with RSF to showcase the local suppliers with which the business works in the Highlands.

RSF, the brainchild of local husband and wife teams, Michelle and Quintin Stevens and Sabine and Ian Richards, now produces over 300,000 meals annually for the Caledonian Sleeper as part of a £1 million contract.

Peter Strachan, Serco’s managing director, Caledonian Sleeper, said: “Today was a fantastic opportunity to welcome the Cabinet Secretary and to showcase some of the finest produce from the Highlands region.

“We are committed to working with local suppliers where possible and the fact that 92% of food produce for Caledonian Sleeper is sourced within 50 miles RSF’s operation in Dingwall is of great importance to us. Along with all Serco Scotland contracts during 2016, we plan to launch a programme to significantly increase local procurement spend over the next few years.

“We are delighted to be supporting an innovative partnership such as RSF. The team has unrivalled experience of the Highlands’ hospitality and restaurant industries and an impressive track record of sourcing the finest suppliers of fresh, local produce and as such were a natural partner for the Caledonian Sleeper.”

With over 15 years of experience in the industry, hoteliers Sabine and Ian Richards are the owners of Forss House Hotel in Caithness, having previously managed luxury Highland retreat, Ackergill Tower. They joined forces with local restaurateurs Michelle and Quintin Stevens, owners of the Storehouse restaurant in Foulis Ferry and the Dores Inn restaurant on Loch Ness, to launch RSF in 2015.

Ian Richards, director, RSF said: “We are tremendously proud of our close relationship with local farmers and suppliers and are pleased to be able to showcase our work to the Minister today.

“As part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, we developed a menu for the Caledonian Sleeper that is emblematically Scottish for the service and look forward to developing the menu further over the three year contract.”

RSF currently employs 10 local residents and is now looking to expand to supply high quality meals into speciality retail, food service and schools.