Taste of Grampian has been hailed a huge success after it drew crowds of over 16,000 to its one-day food and drink celebration on Saturday.
Headline chef James Martin returned to the show after a 13-year break due to his live stint on BBC Saturday Kitchen. Arriving in a 1959 Bentley, his love of classic cars was also noticeable at the Motor Show within the grounds. He said; “The quality of producers is outstanding at Taste of Grampian. Scotland is like the garden of the UK and anything like this event which shows them off is so important.”
Drinks Editor, columnist and former Saturday Kitchen wine expert Susy Atkins hosted 2 sell-out wine masterclasses in the Corney & Barrow Marquee as well as a gin masterclass with 5 local gins from the area.
A full programme of entertainment proved to be a big hit with visitors. Over 180 stand holders, cookery demos and competitions, showcasing Scottish produce, made tickets highly sought after.
Carol Fowler from Prime Event Management who organise the show, said; “Since we announced James Martin back in February we knew from the publicity that we would attract our biggest turnout yet. We’re delighted that, in its 18th year, Taste of Grampian is well-established and firmly on the map as one of the events in the north-east of Scotland.”
Joining James Martin was Scottish food writer and regular at the show, Lady Claire Macdonald. Lady Claire not only did a free cookery demo to over 200 people but also judged two competitions. The Fresh Olive competition, supported by Quality Meat Scotland and Entier was won by 17-year old Nicole Webster. She served up a pork loin dish accompanied with local veg in a white wine and shallot sauce on her birthday and was presented with her prize by James Martin. Lady Claire also judged the Primary School Packed Lunch Competition, sponsored by Specially Selected Pork. Winner, Insch Primary School were delighted to pick up the prize against some fierce competition.
Stand holders battled it out to win awards of their own as the Lord Provost of Aberdeenshire presented 3 prizes at the Best Stand Awards. Best Large Stand went to Blackford Craft Distillery, Small Stand was won by Sweet Toots Cakery and Wester Ross Fisheries picked up Best Visitor Stand.
Following on from last year’s Guinness World Record sausage making competition, McIntosh of Strathmore launched a haggis eating competition. Eight men took part in the challenge to eat a pound of haggis in the fastest possible time. Richard Roach, 33 was the winner after polishing off the delicacy in 58.05 seconds.
Colin Slessor, famed as one of the stars from the BBC series “The Mart” went head-to-head against Scott Chapman for a fun cookery demo to a packed-out audience. Receiving a mystery set of ingredients including pork, they created a dish each despite neither excelling in the kitchen. Novice cook Colin won but said he would be “leaving the cooking to his wife back at home.”
As well as holding court at 3 cookery demos during the day, James Martin made a special guest appearance around the stand holders and exhibitors, taking time to chat to them about their produce. Near the close of the day, many Taste of Grampian visitors were lucky enough to meet him at a book signing, where he signed copies of French Adventure from his latest ITV series.
Taste of Grampian is constantly evolving and year on year, the organisers introduce a new element to the show. This year, for the first time, The Mart Fest was launched as an after-show party when the doors of Taste of Grampian closed. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers were the headline act along with Banff-born Sandi Thom. Food and drink pop-up stalls and a myriad of entertainment until 11pm ended the largest one-day festival in Scotland on a high note.