Each week we introduce you to the people, businesses and products we want to champion within the allergy and free-from world!
This week we're introducing you to the brainchild behind Victus Consultancy, the award winning Andrew Scott.
Andrew isn't your typical consultant, you can't help but laugh when having a conversation with him. Indeed, his character shines through in this interview, and I dare you not to laugh and smile.
Aside from this, Andrew is a driving force in changing how allergies and free-from food is perceived in the food industry arena. He has made great waves in Scotland, working with top class clients, particularly hotels, to bring a better understanding of allergies across the board. Andrew lives and breathes food, what he doesn't know isn't worth worrying about, especially with the added level of championing the free-from arena, and being shortlisted twice in the Free-From Eating Out Awards!
We were very impressed with what Andrew has achieved, so much so, we're joining forces and have some exciting projects planned for the near future, watch this space!
So, over to you Andrew!
5 random facts about you?
- I was the longest baby the hospital had ever delivered.
- I share the same birthday as Paddington the Bear
- Was just named Outstanding Contribution to Scottish Hospitality
- I have an obsession with having to have bank notes all facing the same way
- I am a published Author and Radio broadcaster
What is the story behind you and your work?
Having completed a degree in hotel management and ran hotels for many years, 2003 was the year I dipped a toe into the murky waters of self-employment and as they say, haven’t looked back. Roll forward 13 years and I own and operate Heaven Scent, Heavens Above, Heaven Scent secret garden, Heaven Scent at Knockhill and the catering and event company Heaven Scent Kitchen. I also own and operate Victus Consultancy which is a sleeves rolled up hands on approach consultancy helping hotels, restaurants, bar and hospitality operators fix problems in their business to allow the owners to work on their business more and in their business less. I also guest lecture about hospitality and have a weekly radio hospitality feature.
What do you know about allergies?
I would confidently say that I understand allergens and the severity of ensuring others understand their own personal responsibilities regarding allergies. Every member of my staff has been trained on line and again in house regarding allergies. We have monthly meetings regarding new products and how this will impact our clientele. We have files, records, diagrams that all staff are trained with. We have separate gluten free menus and every outlet has an allergen file made available for our customers so that we can work with them throughout the meal experience.
When we start any quotation process for a tailor made event our first question is always “what is important to you regarding your event?” It is incredible now the number of clients who inform us that the key item regarding their event is dietary requirements, allergens or a complete reaction towards. If we can make the guests mind be at ease then this is a win for us.
My consultancy has seen a sharp increase in conversations regarding helping all hospitality businesses with allergen menu writing, allergen training, and allergen awareness so in summary I understand allergies.
Our businesses became finalists in the Free From Eating Out Awards, two years running and last year was the only finalist from Scotland
Do you have any top tips that you’ve picked up along the way?
My advice is life is simple….. do not listen to anyone else’s advice. It is your life and you have to do what makes you happy. The cliché of life is precious is so true. I love what I do and I know that my consultancy truly helps individuals and businesses alike so I know that I am making a difference.
My other top tip is… the time to break a twig is when you see it. Life is ever changing, allergies are ever changing, we have to duck and dive with the punches.
Honesty is best policy, just look at the most recent allergen court case!
Do you have a favourite place to work in?
The buff???? Oh that’s not what you meant, I am very lucky that my consultancy takes me all over Britain and occasionally further afield. If I travel by car I can use that time hands free to catch up on calls. If it is by train then I now sit and use that time always with a pen and paper to think, admire the view and drink copious amounts of tea. What an amazing way to see parts of our country that we might otherwise miss. I love trips with work to London, the hustle, the bustle, too many people in not enough space, the restaurant and dining scene is superb but give me a few days of this and I can’t wait to get back home to the rolling hills of rural Perthshire. I was lucky that last year I worked in Tangier and Spain so as long as I have access to the internet and a kettle then I can work anywhere
What do you do when you procrastinate?
I have been told that I manipulate as a means of procrastination, I have a lot to get through every day so its all about making notes at the end of every day for the following day. The seriously important stuff first and then the not so much and finally the if I get time bundle. This tends to be the bundle that gets “delegated” or “manipulated” onto others!
Do you have a favourite quote?
The Gucci family famously said that “Quality will be remembered long after the price has been forgotten”.
My dad’s Auntie’s saying always makes me smile… “Tell nae body yer news!!”
If you had an entirely free day to spend on your own doing something for your own pleasure what would you do?
The idea of a spare day terrifies the life out of me, that’s just a pipe dream you tease!
I love cycling, I like getting the miles in on a Sunday and clearing the head, what a way to destress. Live music is another thing, eating, drinking, seeing friends and family and most importantly my two boys, that always puts a smile on my face.
Do you prefer city, country or coast?
The city is great for work but I love escaping. I live in the country but there is just something truly outstanding about the coast. I am lucky in that my parents live in St Andrews, so time gets spent on the beach, at the harbour and just the clean coastal air is super for the lungs!
Do you have a favourite book?
If I can shamelessly plug my own Victus book, it doesn’t take long to read and is just a little romp through hospitality. It takes an hour to read and makes super kindling afterwards or can balance a wonky table.
I read a lot of business books and recently finished Alex Fergusons book called Leading. It is the first book in a while that needed a pen and paper just for notes, simply brilliant
Are you a morning person?
Absolutely love the mornings, I can’t remember the last time my alarm had to waken me. Even on a rare day off I am up and at it as early as I can. Lots to do you know!
Did you have a favourite television programme as a child?
As a kid it was all about Saturday morning telly, the krypton factor, finger mouse, the flumps and bagpus and as I hit my teens programmes like Ready Steady Cook, Rick Stein and Keith Floyd
What is the one thing you would tell your younger self and why?
Try harder at school and listen to your parents! I once over heard someone say…., “ same as Andrew, I didn’t do particularly well at school and became a chef!”
If you want it then go for it, give it laldy!!
Tea or coffee?
As the owner of an award winning coffee shop, the answer should be simple yet I have never ever drunk a cup of coffee. I am addicted to tea, good old English breakfast. I drink gallons of black tea every day. I start the day with a Green tea, have litres of tea throughout the day and stick to herbal at night. I can’t see past a brew.
Sweet or savoury?
Both please, as long as there is plenty of both. I have such a love of food!
What is your favourite meal and why?
This is a great question, as a consultant I often get spoilt when it comes to dining experiences. From five star hotels to boutique restaurants, coffee shops to dining at 150ft in the sky. I think every meal is different and what sets a meal apart for me is simply the company. This being said there is something magical about a BBQ, doesn’t matter what time of year, the idea of flames, food and great company wins for me.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I told the careers advisor that I wanted to tour the world in a famous rock band playing bass or be a hugely successful business tycoon. When the world tour offers dried up then it was time to rock out the power suit and try the latter.
What is your favourite time of the day?
I suppose it depends on where I am. If I am at home 6pm could be dinner time with my kids before I dip out to meet a client but 6pm in the city could still be meetings and 6pm in Spain is quite definitely wine time. Something lovely about the lighter nights when you can still do things after work. My favourite time of day is mornings but I get frustrated if I waste them.
What would your dream job be and why?
I am almost there, I want to get Victus Consultancy to be regarded as the number one hospitality consultancy firm in Britain. Every operator wants Victus to look at their allergens, allergen training, and allergen awareness. I would love to form an initiative with schools, colleges and Universities to spread the importance and the understanding of effective allergen practices.
Jamie Oliver went on the school dinner campaign, is it time for Victus to fight the allergen battle?
What one bit of advice would you give to someone just starting out in the allergy world?
Speak to your suppliers, they have much more allergen information that you realise. If allergens is to become one of your top priorities remember that it might not be the rest of the teams’ priority and information and communication is key. Research, research and more research is vital. This is an area that is not going to go away and we must ensure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, if in doubt ……………… call, tweet and email Victus!