The Helensburgh baker, entrepreneur and founder of the Scottish Baking Awards, Melanie Andrews MBE, tells Shereen how cakes and pastries don’t need to be the dietary bad guy; and why teaching skills to local youngsters is one of her many passions.
Baking with Melanie Andrews
Super excited to be announcing my Gastronomic Road trip in early 2019 now includes USA. I will be taking in Toronto ,The Canadian via rail to Regina and onwards into the Rockies ,Banf and Jasper( Possibly Vancouver ) by car. On the return journey through USA taking in Dakota, Minnesota,Wisconsin,Chicago Indiana,Ohio Pennsylvania and onwards to the Big Apple - New York. I will be critiquing every venue ,food and all hospitality along the way as usual . I leave New York on QM2 for the transatlantic crossing back home.
The opportunity to write reviews for major UK Newspapers and magazines including my own website as "The Hospitality Critic" is an honour.
Melanie Andrews MBE.
It was quite a day at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on the 4th July 2017. I was here to meet Her majesty the Queen to recieve my MBE. The weather was typically dreich and wet but nothing on this earth could have dampened my spirit. There are very few people on this earth that i respect , admire and bow too and Her Majesty the Queen is at the top of that list by a long shot. There will never be another like this remarkable lady - Never. Honoured .
Absolutely great to read in The Guardian, that Jay Rayner is now singing from the same Hymn Book re Restaurant Desserts being a last resort on a Menu . I have been writing about this for years and now finally the rest of the world is catching on . I have earned my reputation as a Food Critic by actually owning ,running and currently working in the Food industry with my chain of 4 Restaurant's over a 43 year period . Being a Masterbaker myself is thoroughly depressing when you are presented with liquid desserts at the end of a great meal . Hence this year as you all know, I have put my money where my mouth is, and set myself the year long challenge to review Scotland's Michelin star and Bib Gourmand Restaurant's dessert course to prove or disprove my view. All these reviews can be seen at www.scottishbakingawards.co.uk and in print at Bite Magazine and Helensburgh Advertiser. This weekend I am returning to 21212 in Edinburgh to see what Paul Kitching has to offer . At the end of July 2017 my synopsis of all these Restaurant's in Scotland will be sent to all National and Local Newspapers, Radio and Media . The results so far are not as you would expect !
It was an absolute honour to meet and eat at Tom Kitchins place this weekend in Edinburgh . The Kitchin Review is now live at the www.scottishbakingawards.co.uk website under Hotel/Restuarant review tab. You can also read this review in Bite Magazine or Helensburgh Advertiser in due course.
I had the great honour of meeting world class scottish Chef - Andrew Fairlie last night and had the most magnificent gastronomic meal . My review can be seen at www.scottishbakingawards.co.uk.
When you are addicted to excellent cuisine as I am , then France in general has it all . This week was off the scale brilliance with Les Tresoms Lake and Spa resort in Annecy. Annecy is a stunningly beautiful town in the French Alps . The old town with its cobbled streets and rivers reminds me of a mini venice . I was staying in Les Tresoms which sits in an elevated position overlooking Lake Annecy. The Chef is a lively 40 year old by the name of Eric Prowalski. A very creative Chef using all the seasonal produce and turning into magnificently beautiful works of art . When you are able to work with such great french produce , the truffles,the wine,the 6 week matured french beef , the cheeses , oh my the cheeses , how can you fail? My love affair with France has been ignited with this Gastronomic retreat that is - Les Tresoms.
This year has taken a toll on my waistline so far with the Michelin Star Restuarant's in Scotland under my scrutiny , so a welcome relief was had when i was invited to appear on the BBCs new hit show - All round to Mrs Browns.
Mrs Browns boys( if you have been in hiding for the last few years) is the brainchild of the genius Brendan O'Carroll . Brendan is an Irish writer , producer , comedian and Director . He is best known for the rather foul mouthed Agnes Brown in the hit BBC TV show - Mrs Browns Boys .
I have to admit i am not a fan of cursing in general ( Unless in private) but i absolutely love Mrs Browns Boys and have been a massive fan since its first show way back in 2011. There is just something about the way Brendan portrays Mrs Brown that does not offend or has any malice or brutality about it . I adore his character and have to say the energy from this man and pure natural comic timing is bordering on genius .
The new show starting on BBC 1 on the 25th March at 9.15pm is set to be a huge hit with interaction from the audience and celebrity guests . I had the pleasure of hearing live band music which was just brilliant and changes weekly.I laughed until my sides split with the rest of Mrs Browns characters getting up to all sorts of madness.
I think what truly makes this show special is the involvement and sentiment of family relationships. Brendans energy does not slow up from begining to end and is infectious . It is a very long time since the days of Billy Connolly at the Albert Hall and all his brilliant comic perceptions of the world , that i have laughed so long and so hard .
I got the pleasure of chatting to Mrs Brown and gifting her with a special red box of Handmade Scottish Tablet laced in green tartan ribbon and with the inscription - Red and Green should never be seen ,except on an Irish Queen.
Long may you reign Mrs Brown and i hope you enjoyed my Scottish hospitality. Slainte.
This year Melanie Andrews MBE has set Scotland's High end Restaurants,Hotel's,Michelin star Rating ( Along with Bib Gourmand rating) a Challenge . For too long now the dessert course in restaurant's all over the country and the UK have been ignored as being the least important course in a Chef's itinerary. This has to end . Scotland has some of the best Chefs combined with excellent ingredients in the world , but what about the great desserts Chef's ? Melanie started the Scottish Baking Awards in 2009 when there was a need to separate real Artisan Bakers from massive industrial scale bakers . At that time every eating place was advertising " Homebaked Cakes " when indeed they were not , this changed rapidly with the Assessments by The Scottish Baking Awards and the subsequent regulation and Awarding system for real Handmade Baking. We now have some of the best Baking in the world we genuinely believe , and we also know where to find them because of The Scottish Baking Awards. Last year was the final straw for Melanie ( A complete Pro when it comes to Cake , Desserts and anything Handmade )
Melanie and long suffering husband David travel extensively all over the world but particularly Scotland and high end restaurant's where you would expect to find some of the best Desserts in the land . This sadly has not been the case and The Dessert course still appears to be something that is tagged on to the end of a great meal.
To this end ,We will now personally critique every single Michelin Star and Bib Gourmand Restaurant in Scotland for the Dessert course And obviously the (main event ) meal itself. We want to eradicate the terminology " The Main Event" as this also sends out the wrong signals re the Dessert course .
Our reviews will be on all our websites including www.scottishbakingawards.co.uk and sent to all the National newspaper , local media , Twitter, Facebook , Instagram , pinterest , Linkedin etc .
So lets see if "The Michelin Guide " really know their stuff ?
Michelin welcome positive or negative feedback and can be contacted at the following email -