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Taste of Grampian 2024: Fans turn out in force to celebrate foodie extravaganza

Thousands of people attended the north-east's biggest food and drink festival.

North-east food and drink fans were spoilt for choice at this year’s highly-anticipated Taste of Grampian.

Thousands flocked to the P&J Live for the chance to tuck into some tasty treats from producers across the region and watch celebrity chefs take to the stage.

Hairy Biker Si King, Nadiya Hussain MBE and Marks and Spencer’s and ITV’s Cooking with the Stars’ Poppy O’Toole captivated audiences with their Q&As and demos throughout the day.

Poppy O’Toole entertained the crowds with her tips on cooking the perfect potatoes. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson
And our brilliant features writers Andy Morton and Karla Sinclair were often on stage. They hosted Nadiya’s Q&A when she told audiences that rowies would make an “insanely good” bread and butter pudding. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

And to top everything off, award-winning north-east chefs Ross Cochrane, Kevin Dalgleish, Graham Mitchel and Graham Sutherland also appeared on the main stage.

Local chef Kevin Dalgliesh also took to the stage. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Crowds gather round the main stage

As I walked in, Ross Cochrane from Mara was on the stage in the middle of the hall frying up something tasty and talking the crowds through making some of the small dishes at home.

Keen foodies were captivated by the cooking demos and Q&As for most of the day. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Despite being the first on the stage, the chef was kept busy with the crowd asking questions about his Thistle Street restaurant.

Si King told the crowds that he didn’t actually know what was next for him, because he was “still grieving”. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

He was followed up by an emotional Q&A with Si King, who was returning to Taste of Grampian for the first time alone.

Rachael Cunningham and her mum Katriona said it was a “great atmosphere” at the foodie festival. Image: Lottie Hood / DC Thomson

They were enjoying watching the different cooking demos and talks on the stage, and were fans of both Nadiya and Si after watching them on TV.

And after watching Si’s Q&A Katriona said she just wanted to give him a “wee bosie”.

She added: “I think because of his situation recently, it was nice to support him and give him a bit of love.

“He must be lost without his pal, as I was saying to my mum he’s still got to make a living, he’s still got to do these things.”

The Hairy Biker was spotted making his way around the stalls and tucking into some of the north-east treats. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Taste of Grampian marks a ‘special’ celebration for one Aberdeen bakery

The Bread Guy was one of my first port of calls, purely because the stall piled high with sourdough bread, rowies, and sweet treats seemed to constantly be buzzing.

The Bread Guys. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Donna McAllister, who owns the business alongside her husband Gary, was busy restocking the freshly baked goodies.

But, she admitted this Taste of Grampian was a “special one” for the Aberdeenshire bakery.

“We actually started out at Taste of Grampian six years ago today,” she said. “So it’s actually our sixth birthday.

“It’s been great and we’ve been really really busy. There’s just been a queue constantly and we’re finding we have to keep restocking because we’ve been selling so much.”

There were many different stalls filled with all sorts of baked goods though, with the team at Sourcloud Bakery almost selling out by 2pm.

At the beginning of the day there were rows and rows of perfectly uniform pastries. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Their stall was filled to the brim with their famous croissants, cruffins and pastries, but by the end of the day they were left with just a handful of baked goods.

Graham Mitchell from Tarragon was having fun on the main stage. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Did you go to Taste of Grampian? What was your favourite part? Let us know in our comments section below

Street food proves to be a hit with revellers

At lunchtime, huge queues formed outside both the Seafood Bothy and Acropolis Street Food, with one group telling me they’d already been waiting 20 minutes to get their hands on a gyros.

Gyros sold like hotcakes. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

And Sri Lankan Street Food was also proving to be popular, with the team frying up the vibrant food while they chatted to the crowd forming around their aromatic stall.

The vibrant dishes were a hit with festivalgoers. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

One of the team members said it had been busy all day, but that they had all been really enjoying the event before he had to rush off to take over looking after the sizzling hot pan.

Farm shop sells out sausages at first-ever Taste of Grampian

Owner of Kemnay Farm Shop, Michelle Clark, said this was the team’s first show, and they’d been a bit worried about if they’d taken enough, or even the right, products.

The Kemnay Farm Shop team was having a blast at their first Taste of Grampian. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

But she needn’t have feared as once people had a taste of their sausage samples people were flocking to their stall — and they sold out on quite a few products fairly early on.

She said: “All the flavoured sausages went, the pork and black pudding, the pork and leek and the pork and irn bru — gone. Most of the steaks have gone, all the steak pies have gone.

“We’d definitely come again.”

Simpson’s of Buckies was another crowd favourite with queues waiting to try their frozen treats. Image: Lauren Taylor / DC Thomson

Owner Richard Simpson said their competition to test the mystery flavour had also been really popular, as he pointed to a stack of papers he had to go through.

He handed me a huge spoonful, and as I tried to guess the flavours his poker face was giving nothing away — but I can say it was delicious and most welcome after spending a few hours in the hot arena.

Revellers spoilt for choice with selection of tasty tipples

Kevin Bonarius, founder of Twice Buried Rum, had come to this year’s Taste of Grampian prepared.

Kevin said the “buzz was fantastic” and has enjoyed talking about his Aberdeenshire products. Image: Lauren Taylor / DC Thomson

He had also brought his newly-launched vodka with him — but rum was still the favourite and by 4pm he was only left with five bottles.

He added: “It’s a great event for us because we’re Aberdeenshire-based and we’re selling to Aberdeenshire people.”

There were plenty of small batch gins and whiskies on offer too, meaning there was something for everyone.

Brand ambassador of Kirkjuvagr Gin Niall Campbell made the long journey from Orkney just to attend Taste of Grampian.

Niall with a bottle of the newly-released whisky blend Fara. Image: Lauren Taylor / DC Thomson

Nowhere in Aberdeen stocks the Orcadian gin, meaning the event was a good opportunity for gin-lovers to sample it and stock up on the unique bottles.

Marks and Spencer shows off what new Union Square store could look like

Marks and Spencer, Taste of Grampian 2024’s title sponsor, had a vast array of stalls brimming with shortbread, salmon, whisky and teacakes.

But the biggest hit with the crowd was undeniably their strawberries and cream stall.

Shortbread was just one of the many treats Markies were giving tasters of. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Even Percy Pig himself made a special appearance at the foodie festival accompanied by Colin the Caterpillar.

The iconic duo spent the day walking around the arena, delighting children and grown-ups alike and taking pictures with all their fans.

And festivalgoers had the chance to see what the upcoming Union Square store transformation could look like at Taste of Grampian.

At one of the stalls, the team showcased a virtual tour of another store and chatted to people as they stopped to check it out.

Allan Ross, Percy Pig, Colin the Caterpillar and Grace Barnett were all having a grand time at Taste of Grampian. Image: Lauren Taylor / DC Thomson

According to Grace Barnett, store manager at Union Square, there was a lot of interest in the video, and people were given a “boost” when they saw what could be coming to the Granite City.

She added: “There’s been really positive feedback, for us moving into Union Square has been a really exciting time and what’s been great to hear is that our customers are equally excited about it.

“On the whole, every single person I’ve spoken to today has been really enthusiastic and excited to hear about what the new store is going to look like and feel like.”

She finished: “People of Aberdeen are going to love it when it comes.”

An opportunity to show off local suppliers at Taste of Grampian 2024

Allan Ross, head of the press office at Marks and Spencer, agreed there was a lot of interest in the new store.

He also said the Spin the Wheel game next to another giant Percy Pig was another hit though, keeping families entertained throughout the day. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

One of the store’s buyers was also at the event and she had arranged to meet some of the small suppliers on the day.

He said: “I think its a fantastic event and it really gives us the opportunity to show off our local suppliers, we’ve got shortbread, strawberries and teacakes for example.

“M&S has got several stores around the north-east of Scotland, we’ve also got a significant number of farms, suppliers and right through the supply chain we’re supporting the local economy. It’s a really good way of showing that the north-east of Scotland is on the footprint of M&S.”

Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The new £15 million Union Square store is planned to be opened in Spring next year and will be the third biggest store in Scotland, and the most modern store in the UK when it opens.

Crafters and charities also had a great time at Taste of Grampian 2024

As well as stalls brimming with fine food and creative drinks, there was also a strong selection selling everything from skincare, to crafts and jewellery.

The Coorie Company had travelled from Fortrose the night before to show off their handmade and gorgeous-smelling candles.

It was their first time at Taste of Grampian and owner Sarah Smith said it had been a “good day” for them.

The soy candles are environmentally friendly and all handmade by Sarah herself. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Different charity stalls were dotted around the arena too, from Macmillan to Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scaa and Cfine.

Nadiya Hussain stopped to speak to Cfine to find out more about the charity. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Martin Carle, development worker at Cfine said it had been a great day for them and a good chance to raise the charity’s profile.

Everyone who attended was able to get their hands on a copy of our incredible 64-page P&J Food and Drink Guide (click here for info on how to get your own if you haven’t got one already!)

Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Take a look through our gallery to see if you can spot yourself at Taste of Grampian 2024