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Cala and Laings cook up celebrity chef showcase for Taste of Grampian

Celebrity chefs will be under the spotlight using kitchens provided by Cala Homes and Laings at the region's biggest one-day food and drink show at P&J Live.
Celebrity chefs will be under the spotlight using kitchens provided by Cala Homes and Laings at the region's biggest one-day food and drink show at P&J Live.

Two companies who both have a long and proud tradition of serving communities in the north-east have cooked up a collaboration to showcase leading-edge culinary skills at Taste of Grampian this year.

Cala Homes and Laings of Inverurie, one of the UK’s largest independent retailers of luxury kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, have together provided the kitchens that will be used by celebrity chefs at the event.

Chef James Martin and Si King of the Hairy Bikers will be using the exhibition kitchens specifically designed to ensure the audience can enjoy their cookery displays to the utmost.

James Martin is one of the celebrity chefs for Taste of Grampian

The Hairy Bikers have published 26 cookbooks and James Martin is best-known for presenting ITV cookery show James Martin’s Saturday Morning.

Cala Homes has a long history stretching back to its days when it was known as the City of Aberdeen Land Association before it grew into one of the UK’s leading housebuilders. Meanwhile, family-owned Laings is this year celebrating its 160th anniversary.

Mike Naysmith, managing director at Cala Homes (North), said the opportunity to get involved to support the return of Taste of Grampian was “too good to turn down”.

CALA managing director, Mike Naysmith.

“It really struck home with us,” he said.

“Through lockdown we have all been through a terrible time.

“The last couple years we did a lot of things for the wellness of our staff and found a lot of them were turning to cooking and food to help get them through.

“The opportunity to try and help with that and also to get people out and back to normality came up and we decided to get behind this and make it as big and successful as possible.”

Janice Murray, head of commercial and design at Laings has taken charge of what the kitchens will look like and has taken a “less is more” approach.

Janice Murray, head of commercial and design at Laings, designed the exhibition kitchens.

“When designing a working kitchen for a cooking demonstration the best thing you can do is keep it simple ,” she said.

“You shouldn’t overcomplicate the space, as each chef has a very limited timescale to familiarize themselves with the area.

“When you are designing, you have to keep in mind that everything is easily accessible, the working flow should feel natural for them to move around in, they shouldn’t have to think about where something is.

“Simple handles when opening doors, eye level cooking, worktop sockets and undercounter bins are all essential, to ensure the chef is constantly engaged and visible to the audience when presenting. The audience want to see every detail of what the chef is doing.

“It’s a very interactive experience and the audience wants to feel involved, to ensure the chef is taking center stage we have designed the kitchens in black so they do not distract from anything the chef is doing.

“In the celebrity chef area the kitchen blends further into its dark backdrop of black curtains, as it is staged in a private room. This area feels immersive and very much like an intimate theater.

“Whilst it is a big area, it feels private and personal. Our kitchens are the backdrop not center stage – the cooking is center stage.”

She also welcomed the opportunity to work with Cala, a company which it works with closely across the north-east, to provide something special for people coming to Taste of Grampian.

“For us as a company we have always been about the client and the community,” she said.

“To be able to be involved and partner with Cala on this and give something back to the community is important to us.

“To be involved in something at this level and help the people of the north-east get back together after the challenges of the previous two years and enjoy something – it is great and a pleasure to be involved in.”

This year the festival has teamed up with Community Food Initiatives North East (Cfine) in Aberdeen as the dedicated charity. Its theme is also centered around sustainability.

Taste of Grampian is run in association with Quality Meat Scotland and is also supported by ANM Group, Opportunity North East, Aberdeenshire Council, The Press and Journal and Evening Express.

Tickets for the festival are priced at £13.50 and can be purchased here. Parking at P&J Live will also be free on the day.

Do you want to be involved? To sponsor the event email or to become an exhibitor contact Jillian Burns at

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