The 15th annual Taste of Grampian exhibition in Inverurie was hailed as an unqualified success by organisers.
Saturday’s breezy sunshine and showcase of food and drink products from across the north-east combined to attract around 15,000 visitors to the Thainstone Centre.
Visitors sampled a vast array of wares from food and drink producers from the region and further afield across Scotland.
Exhibitors including ice-cream makers, salmon smokeries, gin distilleries and sausage producers were on hand from 10am.
A packed programme of events, from puppeteers to celebrity chef cook-offs pitting Scotland’s Nick Nairn against Northern Ireland’s Paul Rankin, kept guests milling across the site through the afternoon.
Judges selected the best exhibitors, and Barra Berries from Oldmeldrum won the award for the show’s best small stand.
The soft fruits business is run by former Grampian TV presenter Sarah Mack and her husband David Stephen from Barra Castle.
Mackintosh of Glendaveny, producers of extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil based near Peterhead won a prize for its large stand which offered guests a range of flavoured oils to try with a dip of bread, including garlic, ginger and spicy jalapeno.
Another winner of the best food stand was Great Gen Charcuterie, which makes cured meats including salamis, chorizo and bresaola from sustainably-sourced wild venison.
The event featured a competition for aspiring young chefs, judged by Lady Claire Macdonald, a regular food writer for the Press & Journal and doyenne of the Isle of Skye who, along with her husband Lord Macdonald, runs the luxury Kinloch Lodge hotel.
Brogan Tilney, a second year cookery student at North East Scotland College, won a closely fought competition with her warm haddock salad with fennel, caper and chive and a main course dish of rib eye of beef with potatoes and a white onion sauce.
The 18-year-old, from Torry in Aberdeen, said she was thrilled to have won.
“I never thought I would win in a million years,” said the delighted student, who is working at a jewellery shop but looks likely to be snapped up by restaurateurs keen to make use of her skills.
She will be given two weeks of work experience, courtesy of Nick Nairn, and £200 for the purchase of food preparation equipment.
Lady Claire said the Taste of Grampian Aspiring Young Chef competition – supported by Quality Meat Scotland, Native by Nick Nairn and the hospitality team at North East Scotland College – was very close with only seven points between the finalists.
Taking second place in the competition was Louise Lee with a starter of tian of salmon and crab, followed by a main course dish of herb-crusted pave of lamb.
Young aspiring chefs had been tasked with concocting a menu to showcase seasonal Grampian produce, with Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb, Specially Selected Pork and a local seafood product.
Earlier in the day some exhibitors reported that the sunny weather enjoyed for most of the event had dissuaded some people from coming to the show.
But by 2:30pm, the Edinburgh Gin stand sold its last bottle of fruit flavoured spirit.
Jane Nicol, who along with her husband Alex distills the concoctions from a basement of a bar in the capital’s west end, said: “It is definitely busier than last year. It is a great event with really good exhibitors.”
Organisers said many stand-holders have already booked a space for next year’s event.
This includes first-time exhibitor The Scottish Goat Company, who like many others sold every ounce of produce on their stand at Saturday’s show.