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Inverness pupils compete to launch city's newest burger

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By Andy Maxtone, Programme Manager, DYW Inverness & Central Highland

FROM sustainable sourcing and supporting local food and drink manufacturers who create high-quality ingredients and products, to front-of-house, professional kitchen skills and other business functions, there's a huge variety of elements feeding into the Highlands' food and drink industry.

A big trend in recent years has been street food and the incredible creativity that comes with developing smaller, flexible menus. It's also opened the door for aspiring entrepreneurs to bring new flavours and dining concepts to wider audiences.

Taking all the above into consideration, pupils from Millburn Academy recently had the opportunity to learn more about the entire food chain as part of the Street Food Burger Challenge, launched by employability group Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Inverness & Central Highland and Food and Drink Federation Scotland, supported by a number of local businesses.

The cross-curricular programme kicked off at the end of October, with more than 200 pupils pairing up to design, brand and market a burger in just five weeks.

The launch event included a street food workshop from Red Shank Catering on how it devises new and fresh ideas, a branding and labelling session from Dynam and lessons in product development and creation from the chef at Prime, part of Cru Holdings.

The challenge also has a large focus on sustainability, with Highland Cookhouse advising how the industry has an important role to play in supporting a circular economy.

With the challenge launching, there was a lot of buzz and excitement in the room about what kind of burgers would be made, with ingredients including Scotch beef, venison, chicken, soy and tofu discussed between the pairs and their professional mentors.

Adding to the excitement is the prize for the winning burger – the opportunity to have it on the menu at Scotch & Rye, with proceeds from the sales supporting the Millburn Academy Friends in Action (MAFIA) parents' committee.

Andy Maxtone, programme manager for DYW Inverness & Central Highland, said: "Following the hugely successful launch event, the groups will now have a really exciting five weeks of workshops that will help them identify and source their ingredients, learn about local suppliers, learn to build a brand and commercialise a product – developing creative skills as well as all-important business acumen.

"The activities feed into the curriculum and help to embed learnings by bringing them to life in real business scenarios, from designing the burger box in art class to developing a sales strategy in business studies.

"We've also had fantastic support from local businesses and suppliers providing time and resources that support the programme.

"It's a great opportunity to highlight to young people the boundless opportunities awaiting them, from part-time summer jobs while at school to providing inspiration for budding entrepreneurs of the future. It's about showing them that this is all possible from right here in the Highlands."

Moira Stalker, skills manager at Food and Drink Federation Scotland, said: "I was delighted to see the enthusiasm from pupils at Millburn Academy at the launch of the Street Food Burger Challenge.

"As well as having fun creating a new product and marketing campaign, the youngsters will have the chance to use their creativity and entrepreneurial skills. They will also learn about the many careers involved in creating one product and getting it to market.

"Good luck to all the teams taking part. I look forward to sampling the burgers which will include lots of tasty local ingredients.

"Ensuring we have new talent coming into the food and drink industry is vital to the future growth of the sector. We hope through this challenge more young people will consider a career in food and drink."

Several local suppliers are supporting the challenge, including: Williamson Foodservice, Highland Fine Cheeses, Cullisse Highland Scottish Rapeseed Oil, The Really Garlicky Company, Highland Fish, Aberdeenshire Larder and Ashers bakery.

The winning burger will be decided from a shortlist at the beginning of December, so stay tuned for more information.

DYW Inverness & Central Highland is searching for more organisations to get involved with the diverse programme of activity in the new year. To find out more, contact andy@dywich.co.uk.

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