Chefs from across Speyside were invited to submit three course menus using locally produced food such as Moray Firth seafood, local fish, venison, game and Aberdeen Angus from the lush hills and glens of Speyside, and combining the produce with some of Speyside's world renowned malt whiskies.
The menus deemed to offer the most mouth-watering marriage of the two were selected by a panel of judges headed by Whisky Magazine France editor Martine Nouet and showcased at a cook off on Friday, 31st Jan.
In the end, the dishes of the day were the delicacies of winner Chris Morrison, 28, head chef at the Mansfield Hotel in Elgin.
Chris created a salmon and halibut combination with steamed mussels in a Macallan 10-year-old whisky sauce followed by fillet of beef coated in draff (a by product of the distilling process) with baby vegetables, butternut squash puree and a Glenlivet jus. He finished the menu with a honey, thyme and oatmeal parfait with an Aberlour A'bunadh whisky and caramel sauce.
The winner, who came third in last year's competition, explained his menu was made possible by the bounty of great ingredients available in the area.
"There is everything out there," said Chris. "Not only does Speyside have good whisky but it has some great local farmers and butchers as well. You can always find whatever you need.
The efforts of Alan Robertson of the Craigellachie Hotel and Addy Daggert of the Glenfiddich Distillery were commended with the chefs taking second and third places respectively.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival chairman and member of the judging panel Jim Royan said: "There is a real buzz about food and its provenance at the moment and Speyside is known for the quality of its produce.
"The festival is about whisky, of course, but the Spirit of Speyside is more than just whisky; the professional chefs competition is an opportunity to really showcase the best of Speyside.
"The winning menu offered a wonderful balance and, particularly the main course, could not have been closer to representing the great relationship between Speyside whisky and food."
The winning menu's main course and dessert will now be served to more than 300 guests at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival's opening gala dinner to be held on 1st May at the Balvenie Maltings in Dufftown, tickets for
which are available from www.spiritofspeyside.com.
Notes to editors.
* For further information and on-line booking visit www.spiritofspeyside.com
* The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2009 will run from May 1st -10th and is the lead event of whisky month in the 2009 Year of Homecoming
programme for info visit www.spiritofspeyside.com
* The judging panel for the Spirit of Speyside Chef Competition
comprised: Martine Nouet (Whisky Magazine, France and Chair of Judging
Panel), Jim Royan (Chairman, Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival), Garry
Rendall, Moray College Hospitality Department), David Dowie (Association
* The chef competition consists of two categories - professional and
student chef. The student chef finals are due to be held in March, with
contestants hoping to follow in the footsteps of former winner Lorna McNee
who later earned a placement working under Gordon Ramsay at Claridges.
* Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2009 has received funding from
Homecoming Scotland 2009 and EventScotland and is also financially supported
by many other private and public partners
* EventScotland is the national events agency working to make Scotland
one of the world's leading event destinations. It manages two funding
programmes: The International Programme which is designed to support events
that attract a significant economic impact from visitors from outside
Scotland and profile Scotland on the International stage and The Regional
Programme which is designed to support events that drive domestic tourism
and profile the particular region in which they take place.
* Homecoming Scotland 2009 is a Scottish Government initiative managed
by EventScotland, the national events agency, in partnership with
VisitScotland, the country's national tourism agency. Robert Burns is the
inspiration for Homecoming Scotland as 2009 is the 250th anniversary of the
birth of Scotland's national poet. Homecoming Scotland will engage Scots at
home as well as motivate people of Scottish descent and those who simply
love Scotland, to take part in an inspirational celebration of our culture,
heritage and some of the many great contributions Scotland has given to the
* Further media information and photographs from Caroline Keith at theKeithconsultancy on 01463 811000 or 07734 543 923
Redfield Farm Cottages
Inverness IV1 3XD
T: 01463 811000
M: 07734 543923
CIPR Excellence Awards Finalist 2006 'Outstanding Achievement by a Small Consultancy'