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‘Rosemount Place is the new Union Street’: Chef Graham Mitchell on Aberdeen foodie scene

From upping the competition to teaching the next generation, Graham Mitchell sat down with Society magazine.

Graham Mitchell of Tarragon has recently scooped restaurant of the year. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson.
Graham Mitchell of Tarragon has recently scooped restaurant of the year. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson.

Graham Mitchell is the first to admit that he is “proactive,” and unable to stay still for too long.

The acclaimed chef is straight talking, hard grafting and a family man to boot.

Fiercely competitive, Graham is also softie at heart with the ultimate goal of leaving a legacy for his children who he shares with his partner, Clare.

“She’s the boss,” he says, matter of fact and I don’t doubt it.

Together the couple have taken on the struggling hospitality scene in the north-east, and emerged as Best Restaurant in Scotland at the Scottish Hospitality Awards 2023.

Their venture is of course Tarragon, which can be found in Rosemount having opened six months ago.

It’s been a baptism of fire after the venue had to compete a mere 30 minutes after opening, and was duly awarded runner up at the North east of Scotland chef and restaurant awards.

Graham Mitchell wearing his chef uniform
Graham Mitchell has been working in the hospitality industry since he was 14. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Graham and his team have gone on to scoop an AA Rosette alongside numerous other accolades, and Tarragon continues to be booked up for weeks in advance.

Having cooked for the likes of Moonfish Cafe, The Chester Hotel and Newmachar Hotel, a dream has finally been realised for Graham.

He is no longer scooping awards for other businesses, with the addition of “by Graham Mitchell” a culmination of years of hard work.

We caught up with the executive chef who started out as a kitchen porter age 14, and found out what’s next.

Congratulations on your many wins, did you set out to win awards?

I’ve been in the industry for a long time and I’ve chased awards for many years.

I started out when I was 14  and I’m 38 now, I decided I wanted to win some awards for myself.

What was the vision for Tarragon?

It started out as a dine at home project during lockdown, to stop myself from going insane.

I was the executive chef at the Newmachar Hotel, I was there for four years.

Once the pandemic hit, I couldn’t sit at home doing nothing.

I’m very proactive and I created a five course tasting menu.

One of the dishes at Tarragon
Tarragon offers small menu with a focus on seasonal produce and perfection with each and every dish. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

I cooked, packed and delivered everything.

It went down really well; people still come into Tarragon now and say the dine at home was the best they’ve ever had.

When I launched Tarragon, it seemed like the restaurant scene was getting a bit too comfortable in Aberdeen.

I feel venues such as Tarragon and Amuse have given it a wakeup call.

How did you come across the site?

Rosemount Place is the new Union Street.

I had been approached about another venue, it was my partner Clare who told me about this site.

She’s the boss, but I initially said no way.

Graham Mitchell sitting inside Tarragonwith four dishes on the table in front of him
Graham revamped Rosie’s Cafe, after an extensive renovation project within the 300 old yr old building. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

It had been Rosie’s Cafe for 20 years, and I happened to walk past when one of the blinds was open.

I saw the white walls, the wooden floors – I got a vision.

I used to work at Moonfish Cafe, where people queued at the door to get in.

It was giving me major Moonfish vibes and I thought to myself, we could smash this.

How did the renovations go?

All my pals who I went to school with got involved and helped with the work.

It took too long really, we discovered problems once we got going.

One of the many seafood dishes Graham Mitchell makes
Say hello to delicious fresh seafood dishes at Tarragon, by Graham Mitchell. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

There was wood rot, the kitchen canopy needed ripped out and all the electrics needed redoing.

Is there history to the building?

It’s roughly about 300 years old.

I found traces of the old Chinese restaurant, The Olympic Chinese, that was here before Rosie’s.

I found an old newspaper, I think the headline said Margaret Thatcher Goes to War with Miners.

The interior of Tarragon in Aberdeen
The gorgeous interior is the result of months of hard work. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

I put it back, alongside a newspaper from the date in 2023 so we could create a time capsule.

We also found the old Victorian staircase down into the kitchen alongside Victorian cornicing.

I love the character of the building. and I feel like Tarragon is the next stage for this place.

What has the response been like?

Phenomenal, it feels like we’re full 24/7.

We’re booked up three to four weeks in advance.

Graham Mitchell pouring sauce over one of his dishes
Graham Mitchell prides himself on offering not only seasonable, but local produce. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

I came in and the aim was food done well, at a reasonable price.

With the economic situation, my gas and electric bill is through the roof.

But I want a good relationship with customers, I can’t put my prices sky high.

Does your menu change regularly?

The menu changes a lot, every five/six weeks since we opened.

I get bored and I want to keep my chefs’ minds active.

I want to keep the team pushing forward and we’ve been recognised for that.

How would you describe your dishes?

Classic flavours with a modern twist.

For example; pan seared fillet of stonebass served with  apple and lemongrass puree, pak choi, buckie crab, onion bhaji, coconut and corriander sauce.

I’m a massive seafood chef, I’ve won the majority of my gold medals by doing seafood competitions.

One of the dishes from Tarragon in Aberdeen
Tarragon by Graham Mitchell is usually booked several weeks in advance. Image : Kath Flannery/ DC Thomson

I don’t currently have enough storage to really push out on seafood.

We have a small menu with each section focusing on five dishes.

We make sure the standard is on point every single time.

Do you use local produce?

Yes, just the other day I was out foraging for garlic with my daughter.

I use local suppliers and in season produce.

Recent dishes have included Foveran lamb rump, and Callebaut 70.5% dark chocolate torte served with Castleton raspberries.

And you’re continuing to work with the next generation?

Yes, I had a great day at Aberdeen Grammar School recently.

I’ve hopefully inspired some first years into a career in hospitality.

I spoke about the restaurant, my career, and sustainability and seasonality of produce.

Plus we did some hands on prep of asparagus from Denhead Farms.

It’s a hard job, but I love the satisfaction I get from knowing I created a dish.”

I’ve been into academies across the north-east.

The hospitality industry has been battered so hard, it needs somebody to make it fun and bring enthusiasm.

We need to get the youth involved, otherwise the whole industry will collapse.

There will be no one left.

What has kept you in a notoriously hard industry for so many years?

The passion and the love of it.

It’s a hard job, but I love the satisfaction I get from knowing I created a dish.

I love the teaching aspect as well, and what goes into each place we dish up.

Hopefully the customers love it as well.

Graham Mitchell, chef at Tarragon in Aberdeen
Graham Mitchell remains passionate about the hospitality industry. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Every day is still a school day, even after all this time.

Winning the Best restaurant in Scotland award, I didn’t expect.

I jumped up from my chair and within two minutes of getting the award, I was crying.

What’s next? 

Cafe Boheme and Amuse have appeared in the Michelin Guide, so that’s my next big push.

I want to be in The Good Food Guide as well, I want it all.

Honestly, I’m just getting started.

More information

Follow Tarragon by Graham Mitchell on Instagram @tarragonbygrahammitchell, @Tarragon By Graham Mitchell on Facebook or head to

To book a table, phone 01224 977466 or head to the website.