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Interview: Meat pies, haggis and fun at the upcoming Queen Mary's ScotsFestival

The sound of bagpipes, the precision of Scottish dancing and the challenge of the Highland Games will all be at the Queen Mary in Long Beach on February 15 and 16 for the Queen Mary's 21st Annual ScotsFestival. In an interview today, the Examiner learned about some of the special Scottish foods that will be available for the Festival from Chef Kevin Haggard, of Sunblest Food. “Sunblest Food is the producer of Heritage Meat Pies. We are the largest supplier of meat pies for the Scottish Highland Games held all across the country”, Chef Kevin explained. “I cut my teeth in the industry by working for Scottish bakers in Australia and British Columbia. I worked for Scottish bakers Peter MacDonald and Warren Denningham, where I learned this talent of making Scottish meat pies. I've been doing it for twenty five years”, he said.

Bagpipe bands compete at the Queen Mary's ScotsFestival
Queen Mary

Kevin talked about the upcoming event, “In the middle of February we will be participating at the Scottish Highland Games at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. It's one of the premiere events in the nation as far as the Highland Games are concerned, set against the backdrop of the Queen Mary. It couldn't be more appropriate than that”, Kevin continued. “The food is where I come in; Heritage Meat Pies serves a line of traditional meat pastries, specifically Scottish meat pies, steak and mushroom pies, a cottage pie, a shepherd's pie, an English sausage roll as well as a chicken pie. This year, we're introducing a couple of new items, a vegetable curry pie and a lamb curry pie”, Kevin explained. “We're adding them as exotic savories from the edge of the Empire”.

Kevin went on the talk about what makes Scottish meat pies unique. “They are the same concept as other pies. It's a meat filled pastry dough, as opposed to meat pies such as pasties, which are a half moon shaped hand pie with a short-crusted dough while the Scottish meat pies are a proper pie. It uses a three and three quarter inch round pie shell, with a puff pastry lid, so we look more like a formal pie. Obviously, they are each an individual serving pie, sort of a convenience item. In the UK, the British influenced countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England, Ireland and of course Scotland, they eat meat pies like we eat hamburgers. You go to a sporting event and eat meat pies, you walk down the street to any bakery and eat meat pies, go into a butcher shop and you can grab a pie. They are as institutionalized over there as hamburgers are here”, Kevin explained.

As for other Scottish dishes that Kevin will be featuring, “We are also the supplier of haggis for the Highland Games, which of course is an extraordinarily traditional Scottish dish. It is the ground organ meat of a lamb, mixed with oats and seasoning and then they take that mixture and stuff it back into the stomach of the lamb which is used as a casing and then cooked. Being the oppressed subjects of England for so long, the Scots used every part of the animal that was left for them to eat. That was the development of haggis”, according to Kevin. “Of course, to celebrate Bobby Burns dinner in January is by serving haggis, and then reciting “The Ode to Haggis” by Bobby Burns”. Sunblest Foods gets their haggis for the festival from a gentleman out of Roseburg, Oregon. Coincidentally, his name is Charlie Lamb. He makes the best haggis in the country! He sends me the ceremonial haggis, the small traditional haggis for the Highland games. He's a stickler for traditional conformity. I mean, he makes great traditional haggis”, Kevin said.

The 21st Annual ScotsFestival at the Queen Mary will take place on February 15 and 16, 2014. Besides the traditional Scottish foods, guests will be able to sample a Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Red Chair NWPA, Chainbreaker White IPA, Black Butte Porter and Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewery. For the whiskey tastings the Queen Mary will be offering The Macallan 12, The Macallan 15, Highland Park 15, Highland Park 18, and Cutty Sark Prohibition. Also, the Queen Mary's Executive Chef Todd Henderson will also be providing a menu of Scottish delights. In addition to the foods, the traditional Scottish dancing and bagpipes will be presented. The Highland Games will feature professional and amateur competitions in piping, drumming, massed bands, darts, Highland dancing, and athletics. Scottish Highland Games, a pre-cursor to the Olympic Games, were designed to test the strength, skill and technique of ancient warriors by face offs in stones, hammer throw, weights for distance, weight over bar, sheaf and the famed caber toss. Border Collie herding, a Grand Parade and other events will be held. Saturday night, the day will be capped off by “RockYerKilt”, a concert featuring several great Scottish and Celtic bands.

For information about the ScotsFestival, the Queen Mary's ScotsFestival website has times, tickets and even packages for the weekend. Hotel packages are also available for those wishing to stay on the Queen Mary for the weekend. Eighty-three years ago, in a small seaside town in Scotland called Clydebank, construction began on the RMS Queen Mary. Exemplifying the fine craftsmanship of Scotland, the Queen Mary’s Scottish legacy is undeniable. The ship’s glorious heritage will be celebrated at this festival honoring her Scottish roots.


The Queen Mary Events Park

1126 Queens Way

Long Beach, CA 90802

Phone: (877) 342-07

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