Aberdeenshire Council's hopes of attracting Jamie Oliver's restaurant chain Fifteen to the area have been dashed after the Fifteen Foundation ruled out expansion north of the border.
The council last week held informal talks with Fifteen Cornwall foundation director Mark Scothern in a bid to put the local town of Banff "on the international map" by persuading him to bring the socially minded restaurant project to the area.
Alison McInnes, chair of Aberdeenshire's infrastructure services committee, said Oliver's work with disadvantaged young people was an inspiration to the council and that she hoped recent developments in the area would help attract the Fifteen Foundation to Banff.
"There isn't yet a Fifteen restaurant in Scotland and we would like to change that by attracting the Fifteen Foundation to Banff," she said.
But Scothern, who was in the area giving a presentation at the North Sea Commission conference on the changing face of coastal communities, said he was not able to give the green light to a Fifteen project in Scotland. "I've come here to explain what we've done in Cornwall," he said.
"I can't make decisions about whether Fifteen comes to Aberdeenshire."
And a spokesman for Jamie Oliver confirmed the Fifteen Foundation was not in official talks with the council, adding that it had no plans to take the business to Aberdeenshire.
"The Fifteen Foundation has no plans to expand the brand into Scotland and there is absolutely no truth in the story," he told Caterer.
Chefs hold more sway than government
Consumers would rather listen to celebrity chefs than to the Government when it comes to healthy eating and other food-related issues, research reveals.
A survey of 1,000 UK consumers, carried out by Tickbox on behalf of the International Food and Drink Event 2007, revealed that 17% trusted the likes of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay compared with just 5.7% who listened to the Government.
Martin Bates, chief executive officer of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: "The reason people are listening to celebrity chefs is because they can relate to chefs as real people and often see the Government as removed from our day to day needs."Openings: Fifteeen, Melbourne >> Jamie Oliver opens Cornwall restaurant >> Jamie Oliver's Fifteen branches out >> View more on Jamie Oliver here >>
By Kerstin Kühn
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Published by: The Caterer