Thousands turned out on Saturday to enjoy cookery demos, live music and more than 180 stands selling everything from fish to gin as Taste of Grampian celebrated its 20th anniversary.
With Quality Meat Scotland as the main sponsor, this year’s event featured a plethora of ‘Live Kitchen’ demonstrations.
Delighting the packed audience, Celebrity MasterChef judge John Torode wowed the crowds with a local beef dish using steak from John Davidson’s Butcher in Inverurie. Reality star and Celebrity MasterChef finalist Spencer Matthews showed off his culinary skills with a lamb dish and spent time meeting stand holders, vowing to return next year as an exhibitor with his own gin.
Chairman of the event John Gregor said: ‘If Grampian is all about quality local food and drink and as Scotland’s largest one-day food festival we hope all the exhibitors and the visitors who came enjoyed it.’
A number of top local chefs also got a spot in the limelight with free demonstrations all day. Kevin Dalgleish from The Chester, Craig Wilson from Eat on the Green and Ross Cochrane from The Rothesay Rooms were all promoting local produce from the stands and were ably assisted by school children from all over the north-east who got the chance to work alongside them as commis chefs.
Hilarity ensued with Colin Slessor and Sandy Greig’s dual which was hailed a draw and a great success as they both raised money for local charities.
For the younger visitors, the schools competition was fiercely competitive with Hillside School picking up the main prize. Over 15 schools competed and Bramble Brae and St Peters School were chosen as the runners-up. The Children’s Marquee was extremely busy where kids got the chance to make their own smoothie on a bike as well as seeing a number of live animals and farm equipment on show.
The Gin, Wine and Brewdog Masterclasses proved very popular this year with dozens attending each event. Visitors were invited to sample some of the finest local gins that were also exhibiting at the event. Brewdog were inundated with free masterclasses throughout the day showcasing their beers from Ellon. Sponsors, So On Fire, had a busy day manning the public bars as well as promoting their Street Food throughout the day in the outdoor marquee.
The prize for Best Large Stand went to Glen Garioch and Meldrum House for promoting the town of Oldmeldrum with their bespoke, specially commissioned Dram Tram bar where they gave away Glen Garioch Marmalade cocktails and food from the hotel’s restaurant. Best Small Stand was presented to Sweet Toots Cakery from Bridge of Don who had converted an old horse box to sell their bakery goodies from.
The biggest winners of the day were the stand holders. Some exhibiting for the first time. Wark Farm from Alford sold all 480 of their pies by 2pm after restocking in the morning. Tomintoul Distillery, also first timers, had sold almost all their stock by late afternoon with master distiller, Robert Fleming saying: ‘We are absolutely blown away.’
Carol Fowler, managing director of organisers Prime Event Management said: ‘The local boost to the economy is huge, bringing in visitors from all over. Over the last 20 years of the event, Taste of Grampian has brought over £40million to the area and continues to grow year on year. There’s nothing else like it in the north-east.’