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Restaurant review: Marcus Wareing wows guests at first Signature Food Festival 2022 event in Aberdeen

Marcus Wareing serving up some of the dishes at Signature which took place at The Chester Hotel.
Marcus Wareing serving up some of the dishes at Signature which took place at The Chester Hotel.

Squeezing past the swarm of guests congregating in the bar area of The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen, I was on a mission to get to the other side of the room.

It was a deliberate move, with the edge of the bar my target.

I positioned myself here knowing fine well the man everyone was talking about would hopefully come to address the room from this end, and so I wanted to make sure I could get a good glimpse of him as I’d forgotten my glasses.

“I can see him in the kitchen, look” said one excited diner, while a flurry of heads turned followed by phones popping up into the air.

Marcus Wareing arrived in Aberdeen in the late afternoon on Friday. Here he is working with The Chester Hotel staff and his own team. Pictures supplied by Newsline

MasterChef: The Professionals judge and Michelin star chef Marcus Wareing was preparing for his first night at fine dining festival Signature, a charity event organised by The Chester Hotel owner Graham Wood and his wife Gillian.

To date, the duo have already raised more than £800K for local charities, and Marcus kicked off the 2022 event with sold-out events on both Friday and Saturday night.

A short video took our attention away from the chef as Graham appeared on the screen. It outlined the incredible impact the donated money has had on the local community, and why the event is vitally important.

Marcus Wareing at the dinner overseeing the dishes. Picture supplied by Newsline

As it came to a close, gasps began with a round of applause quickly following as Marcus, who was now standing a mere metre away from me, entered. He was taller than expected, his physique slender, but it was his deep eyes and dashing smile that captivated the room. The whole room smiled back.

Glass of Champagne in hand, guests were invited table by table to take their seats. There were around 90 covers and the open kitchen, which boasted The Chester and Marcus’ teams, was a hive of activity.

Once seated we were immediately served a warm slice of granary bread, with room temperature salted butter ready to be lathered on. It had a sweetness to it and the crisp Champagne went well with it, which was a great coincidence.

Marcus Wareing at Signature Food Festival

The wine pairing for the first course started to be poured. I was looking forward to the smoked mackerel and langoustine tart after watching the kitchen team prep it while passing on the way to our table.

Paper thin, the pastry of the tart was crisp and a seaweed and caviar hollandaise mousseline was poured over the ceviche-style mackerel. The langoustine was beautifully cooked and the stand out, with a tiny dollop of Champagne sabayon on top. It was rich in flavour and its meaty texture made me want to savour every mouthful.

The dusting of dried seaweed over it brought a different dynamic to the crisp white plate.

The smoked mackerel and langoustine tart. Picture supplied by Newsline

Up next was a roast and marinated breast of quail. A red wine pairing was provided with this dish, which also boasted a fried bird’s leg.

My knife glided through the breast and I scooped up the delectable black garlic sauce it sat on top of. The tender carrot had crushed pine nuts over it and it too was soft to cut into. The flavours were very thick and rich, which meant the slightly smaller portion was appreciated.

Quail was served two ways as the intermediate dish. Picture supplied by Newsline

We continued on red as we were served the Herdwick lamb. It was seared to perfection and the lamb crackling is also worth mentioning as it was the best I have ever had. Crisp, yet moist, it wasn’t teeth crunching like many before it, it was subtle and full of flavour.

A pissaladière with black olive was served, and the anchovy cream was pungent and demanded attention. The lamb sauce brought it all together and although just a dribble was poured over the plate, it was just right.

The lamb was cooked to perfection. Pictures supplied by Newsline

Throughout the evening Marcus had been venturing to every table in the dining room, making time for each and every guest. It was lovely to see each face light up as he engaged one-on-one.

As we ventured into sweet he returned to the kitchen and we were served nutmeg and custard with a delicious dessert wine.

If Christmas was a dish, this is it.

The consistency of the custard was like “magic” according to my boyfriend. To keep something so soft yet in shape almost seemed impossible to him, but here he was being proven wrong.

Nutmeg was very prominent throughout and the custard wasn’t too sweet. A fig lay to the side of the main event and the raisin bake reminded me of the marzipan layer of a Christmas cake.

Nutmeg and custard was the pre-dessert.

Last but certainly not least was the verbena parfait. Another dessert wine was paired to this number which was far sharper than the last. It was a little work of art with dried raspberry in the shape of honeycomb.

The raspberry and bergamot mousse was sour in comparison to the sweet olive oil sponge which balanced it out. The sponge was light and fluffy, and the dried raspberries provided a slight crunch which added more texture to the dish.

The verbena parfait with raspberry and bergamot mousse. Pictures supplied by Newsline

To finish we were served tea and coffee with salted caramel chocolate bon bons.

The molten caramel inside melted in my mouth and although the dark chocolate casing and cocoa was rich, I could have eaten them all night.

The verdict

The meal from start to finish was flawless. Not only did the kitchen team do The Chester Hotel proud, but the front of house staff were all over everything and it was so nice to see Graham and Gillian getting stuck in, too. To me, that just goes to show how passionate they are about this festival and raising money for charity.

Marcus Wareing is certainly a charming and interesting man and the time he spent outwith the kitchen checking on guests was appreciated by everyone.

He was even signing menus and books and taking pictures, which everyone loved.

Signature Food Festival runs until November 19 when Scottish chef Lorna McNee will cook up a storm. Other key chefs and dates are as follows:

  • Tom Brown: Sept 27
  • Ken Hom: Sept 30/Oct22
  • Lisa Goodwin-Allen: Nov 11/12
  • Sat Bains: Nov 14/15


Address: The Chester Hotel, 59-63 Queen’s Road, Aberdeen AB15 4YP

T: 01224 327777



  • Food: 5/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Surroundings: 5/5