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Survival, streetfood and supporting local: The best of the north-east food and drink scene in 2022

Julia Bryce chews the fat with Team Society, on what we can expect from the food and drink scene in 2023. Image: Newsline
Julia Bryce chews the fat with Team Society, on what we can expect from the food and drink scene in 2023. Image: Newsline

If you’re keen on the food and drink scene in the north-east, you’ll probably have come across award-winning journalist – Julia Bryce.

Heading up the food and drink team across DC Thomson, Julia is also a regular reviewer for Society magazine.

Julia Bryce raising a dram at Fettercairn Distillery. Image: Fettercairn Distillery

She’s in the know on all things delicious, from exclusive interviews with top chefs to the latest restaurants on offer across the north-east.

Whilst Julia is normally the one to rock up with notepad in hand, Team Society decided it was high time we put her up for an interview.

From a look back over the year to what you can expect from the hospitality industry in 2023, this is an interview not to be missed.

Tell me about some of your most memorable interviews this year?

For me the most memorable has to be Michel Roux Jr. 

He was launching a new restaurant in Fort William called Seasgair at Inverlochy Castle and his views on the food and drink scene in the Highlands were so interesting.

He also tried his first buttery, watching a top chef try this north-east delicacy was quite something.

He said it would be a good vehicle for something else and should be served as a hot haggis sandwich.

Was he being honest about liking it? I’m not convinced.

I also interviewed The Hairy Bikers on Zoom, and it was the funniest interview I’ve ever done.

Si King of The Hairy Bikers at Taste of Grampian getting selfies with fans. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

We were all crying with laughter, and I loved finding out about their north-east experiences.

Interviewing Aberdeen Football Club fans about the famous Pittodrie pie was also really special.

The famous Pittodrie Pie, the scran of choice for thousands of Dons fans. Image: Blair Dingwall/DC Thomson

Have there been any pivotal moments for the food and drink industry in 2022?

This year has partly been about recovering and survival, after the industry has faced so many challenges.

Covid restrictions were still in place earlier this year, alongside the impact of the war in Ukraine and the cost of living.

Lockdown saw Aberdeen fall silent, as shown with the normally busy Belmont Street deserted during the pandemic.

2022 has been about rebuilding but there has also been liberation since restrictions were lifted.

So many people came out of the pandemic with a totally new mindset of what they wanted from life.

Has there been any rising trends?

The biggest one has been street food.

It has been around for a while, but this year has provided a real opportunity.

You just have to look at the rise of street food in Aberdeen, from the beachfront to the recently opened Resident X and Shiprow.

Inside Resident X. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Shiprow has definitely played a part in giving opportunities to new businesses.

The costs for running a street food business tend to be lower, and smaller menus mean less food waste.

Some of the best street food in Aberdeen is available on the beachfront, you just have to look at Roots and Project Pizza.

Even The Feed Baron in Westhill is serving up some of the best burgers in Aberdeenshire.

The Feed Baron doesn’t skimp on portion sizes. Image: Julia Bryce

Have you noticed common challenges in the industry?

Staffing, both in hospitality and in food and drink manufacturing.

A lot of businesses are struggling to operate and have even changed their hours because they just can’t get the staff.

Skills are another major issue.

If you look at butchers or bakers, there is just not as many people coming through the industry who are specialists in those kind of skill sets.

Dennis Paterson has been a butcher for more than 30 years and can be found in Northfield. But skills such as butchery are at risk of dying out.  Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

You just have to look at the high street to know that we desperately need these businesses. Your butcher or fishmonger, they were, and should be, the backbones of the community.

There’s nothing like getting homemade products or items that have been butchered or filleted by hand, it just doesn’t have the same charm, or taste the same, in my opinion.

Businesses are also having to pay premium prices for products, and then they’ve had to work out a way to try and not pass that price on to their customers.

At the same time, people aren’t going out for food as often. A weekend takeaway has turned into one a month and so on.

What’s the best way we can show our support to businesses in the city and Shire?

It sounds simple, but buy local.

If you are going to buy meat for example, buy it from your local butcher instead of going to the supermarket.

If you’re meeting a friend for a bite to eat, choose a local independent cafe.

Julia enjoying The Braided Fig’s Korean fried chicken burger. Image: Julia Bryce

Celebrate these businesses, tell people if you’ve gone for a meal and really enjoyed it.

Share your experience, word of mouth is still really powerful, so is social media.

Be vocal.

Has social media changed the landscape for how the food and drink industry operates?


I think so many businesses spend more time on social media sharing images of their dishes etc, because that’s what people find engaging.

Social media is one of the most important marketing tools.

Social media plays a major role in the food and drink industry. Image: Shutterstock

You can walk into any restaurant, and there will be someone using their phone to take pictures.

Influencers and micro-influencers can help promote a business, but they can also do a lot of damage.

It’s important to remember that one person’s experience doesn’t reflect everyone’s.

You should make your own judgement.

Tell us about your favourite review of 2022?

That’s such a hard one because we have a brilliant food and drink scene in the north-east.

Amuse by Kevin Dalgleish is up there, alongside Signature events held at The Chester Hotel.

Lorna McKee, Scotland’s first female Michelin starred chef in around 20 years, alongside dishes cooked by Marcus Wareing.

He was such a gent.

Julia got to meet Marcus Wareing at a dinner in Aberdeen. Image: Julia Bryce

For fantastic pub grub, The Cock and Bull at Balmedie wins every time for me.

My ultimate experience has to be Douneside House out at Tarland though.

I had the tasting menu and everything from the service to the wines was fantastic.

It was such a carefully curated menu and eating in the library was such an intimate and gorgeous experience.

The Chocolate dessert from the current tasting menu at Douneside House. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

What can we expect from the foodie scene in 2023?

I think everything will be a bit more settled, with even more entrepreneurs willing to take risks.

There will be the resurrection of a lot more events, such as Aberdeen Restaurant Week, Aberdeen Cocktail Week and Taste of Grampian.

James Martin and Julia Bryce talk all this Taste of Grampian at P&J Live in Aberdeen. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

I’m hoping there will be so many opportunities to celebrate the best of the best.

There’s a lot of eating to be done!