When I moved to Abernethy with my girlfriend Jo, we found it intriguing that one of the villages few shops sold both clootie dumpling and wood burning stoves. When we paid a visit, we were impressed not only by the quality and choice of dumplings available to sample, everything from traditional flavours to more adventurous offerings like chocolate orange and Baileys or lemon and Pimm’s but also the quality of gifts and cards available to buy. Apparently, some wild and wacky flavours were trialled before the current range was decided upon. 'The Iron Bru dumpling although tasty was such a bright orange that it might have been good for Halloween! The Iron Bru dumpling was so bright that it might have been good for Halloween and the less said about the strawberry and pepper flavour the better!'
The shop, owned by Michelle Maddox and her husband, initially began selling wood burning stoves but the pair were soon looking to diversify: ‘We had a plan, a shop for selling British made wood burning stoves, clootie dumplings from the finest quality local ingredients and locally sourced gifts and crafts’. We have found the shop a lifesaver when you need a quality gift in a hurry. They even sell a children's book with picture's by Jimmy Glenn an illustrator for both Oor Wullie and The Beano. 'Jimmy’s wife Linda phoned me to order some dumplings and when I delivered them I met Jimmy and he offered to illustrate the book.'
Michelle may never have got the inspiration to make a living selling dumplings had it not been for her son Jacob. In 2015 Jacob, who is autistic and has ADHD, was looking for something to sell at his market stall at his school’s Christmas fete. Michelle made him some clootie dumplings using her granny’s recipe and they soon sold out. ‘Someone suggested that I should do it as a business. Jacob asked me and I decided why not! We decided we would name it something that rhymed with clootie and the children all thought Clootie McTootie, which we shortened to Clootie McToot’.
Since then Michelle and the business have gone from strength to strength, winning both a BBC Good Food Show Producers Bursary Award and a Business Star Award in Excellence in Food & Drink Produce. Michelle has always had a passion for catering and achieved a degree with distinction in Food, Health and Welfare before moving to central London to carry out a work placement on the BBC Food and Drink Show in 2001. ' Moving from a small village in Scotland to Central London and working with celebrities was an experience I will never forget. Eventually, my career took off in a different direction and my joy for traditional Scottish cooking became a hobby.'
Now it is no longer a hobby, and never one to rest on her laurels, Michelle has big plans for the future. These include a new clootie dumpling product that will be rolled out in both the shop and a whole host of festival appearances. Major building works are also underway at Clootie McToot HQ which involve the installation of viewing kitchens, allowing visitors to Abernethy to observe clootie dumpling being made. However, the thing that Michelle is most excited about is a plan she cooked up with her son Jacob. 'Jacob and I have decided that we are going to surprise certain companies and people by hand delivering a free clootie dumpling. There is nothing better than getting a gift that you weren't expecting and Jacob and I love to give'. So, you never know, you might find yourself the unexpected recipient of a succulent and tasty Clootie McToot clootie dumpling!
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