As we all know, Fife is rich in culinary offerings. From fresh fruit and vegetables, to organically reared livestock, the landscape is ripe with opportunity. This wealth extends to the Fife coast, where Iain.R.Spink, founder of Original Smokies from Arbroath Ltd, does his magic. I spoke to Iain about the success of his business and how he came to be involved in the Crail Food Festival.
How long has Original Smokies from Arbroath Ltd been a fixture in the local community?
The business has been established for eight years and during this time I have been a regular supporter and attendee of all the Fife Farmers Markets.
How did you come to be involved in the Crail Food Festival?
I try to get involved in as many local events as possible, as you never know what opportunities may arise. This was the case with the Crail Food Festival. I met the organisers at several other local events, and following on from this I was invited to attend the festival.
What do you attribute to the success of your business?
I think it’s largely down to the fact that people can see the fish being smoked in front of them. By demonstrating how Arbroath Smokies are made, my customers not only get to see the process their food undergoes, but have the added bonus of eating the fish at its very best, hot, juicy and straight from the fire. As the saying goes you eat with your eyes, and the sight of all the fresh fish hanging on sticks ready to be smoked, combined with the smell of the burning hardwood logs provides an entirely sensory experience for customers at the many fares and markets I attend. Additionally, I only use the best quality raw materials available and usually do every stage of the lengthy process myself.
Why do you think so many people buy from supermarkets, rather than take advantage of local produce?
In the main, I think people are enticed by the convenience that comes with supermarkets. The ability to get everything under one roof is tempting, and can save a lot of time. I also think price has a part to play, and in these financially challenging times, consumers are forced to go with more economical options.
Your business is firmly established, what advice would you give someone thinking of opening a business in the food industry?
My advice would be to keep things small and manageable with an emphasis on producing the best quality products. With growing concern and unrest over mediocre food infiltrating our society, consumers are now looking to extend their knowledge of good food, and where to buy high quality, local produce. If producers can bear this in mind and create something unique, whilst keeping quality at the forefront of their aims, they should be able to establish a very worthwhile business.
In your opinion, what makes Fife produce stand out as one of the best?
The diversity of produce available all over the Kingdom of Fife is quite amazing. The rugged coastline produces fantastic seafood, whilst the fertile land allows fruit and vegetables to flourish. Teamed with more unique products, such as venison and water buffalo, it’s easy to see why Fife produce is considered one of the best in the world.