Kirsty George at Luss Smokehouse
No two days are the same in the work life of Kirsty George, General Manager at Luss Smokehouse. Nestled on the banks of Loch Lomond, Luss Smokehouse is the natural inheritor of a centuries old Highlands craft that has long given Scotland pride of place on the global map of food and drink excellence.
Fresh from winning the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards Young Talent category, Kirsty is a wonderful example of a young person who has selected the food and drink sector as her career of choice.
Originally from Fife, Kirsty attended Business School at The University of Edinburgh. She went on to do a graduate placement for Stockan’s Oatcakes in Orkney and then moved onto a role with Scotland Food and Drink working on their strategy ‘Ambition 2030’. Whilst gaining first-class experience in collaboration, partnerships and the sector itself working across these roles, Kirsty was certain that she wanted to be back at the frontline helping to drive the vision of the very strategy she’d worked on, and grabbed the opportunity to be part of the team at Luss Smokehouse in September 2016.
Managing all aspects of the business is something which Kirsty thrives on – there is no typical day! One day she could be representing the Smokehouse at an export showcase, the next she could have her head in the back of the kiln fixing the electrics.
I couldn’t be more occupied if I tried. I look after the whole smokehouse, run production, sales and marketing, as well as all of the operational aspects. Basically, I am responsible for buying the fish, smoking the fish and selling the fish. It is a great team we have here. When I started we were a team of four and now we are up to a team of ten. Six of those are under 26 which is something I am really proud of.
Kirsty played a key role in the expansion of the business, following increased product demand which saw their Smokehouse shop open in Easter 2018. Designing and opening the shop became a bit of an obsession for Kirsty but her hard work paid off with the shop location now a visitor destination in itself, adding to the beautiful surroundings of Luss and Loch Lomond.
People come from far and wide to visit the Smokehouse, evidenced by the map on the Smokehouse shop wall which displays map pins from as far away as Russia and Hawaii. These visitors are given the Smokehouse experience where they can witness the fish being prepared and smoked, and take a little piece of Scottish tradition away with them – I feel honoured to be part of their memories.
Kirsty believes that ‘now’ is a fantastic time to be in the food and drink industry in Scotland and would recommend anyone interested in a career in the sector to go for it.
The Scottish food and drink industry is a great place to work as it offers a hugely diverse range of opportunities. There are jobs for every skill set with so many transferable skills from any industry from STEM based roles all the way through to business development and marketing. It is an industry full of collaboration and support and I’ve made lots of friends working in food & drink. It’s a very demanding role that requires a lot of passion – but it’s not difficult to be passionate about such good food!
Kirsty loves working in an industry where quality and authentic provenance is key. Scottish salmon is recognised world over and to be part of that is pretty special. The time-honoured traditions may inform the methods of smoking the fish but Kirsty and her team are evolving the image and ethos to attract younger visitors and buyers to the smokehouse. Her future is looking very bright with so much experience at a young age, there is no doubt that Kirsty will be taking the Scottish food and drink industry by storm for a long time yet.
Hear from other young tourism ambassadors featured as part of the Future Focus series.