Thousands of food and drink fans enjoyed some of the north-east’s finest produce at the weekend at Taste of Grampian.
Nearly 200 traders set up stands at Thainstone Mart, outside Inverurie, on Saturday while famous chefs performed mouth-watering demonstrations in the agricultural venue’s show rings.
Master Chef host John Torode prepared a stunning main course of pork escallops during one of his sold-out shows, before fielding questions from audience members young and old.
TV star Spencer Matthews is best known for appearing on reality series Made in Chelsea but he won some new foodie fans last year when he showed off his culinary prowess by reaching the final of Celebrity Master Chef.
Enjoying his newfound recognition as a whiz in the kitchen, he encouraged others to cook more as he prepared a lamb dish during an afternoon masterclass.
The socialite said: “Everybody can be a fantastic chef if they just keep trying. If you get things wrong, it doesn’t matter and you should just crack on with it.”
Mr Matthews also made reference to his unusual welcome to the Aberdeenshire institution, as a pair of Highland cows named Donald and Duchess greeted him at the gates.
And Helen Vass, a pastry chef who won the Bake Off Crème de la Crème TV show, offered expert advice during a chocolate workshop.
But it was the local businesses who attended the event that had the most to smile about as the curtain fell on the extravaganza.
Wark Farm sold its entire selection of 480 pies by 2pm, marking an astonishing first trip to the fair for the Alford firm.
Owner, Laurel Foreman, said: “This has been a great day for us, we had to restock halfway through and still sold all we have.”
Tomintoul Distillery also attended for the first time, and its supply was largely gone by the late afternoon.
Master distiller, Robert Fleming, said people were just as interested in learning about the product as they were keen to try it.
He added: “It has been an unbelievable first year, as well as almost selling out we enjoyed having so many people ask questions on how the whisky is made.
“We are absolutely blown away.”
Industry heavyweights like Baxters and Walkers operated stands, while firms from Shetland and Orkney highlighted the islands’ output in a marquee.
Alluring smells wafted from a grill set up outdoors by the Malmaison hotel, which sold hundreds of mini burgers for £1 each – with all profits going to the Rotary Club of Old Meldrum to distribute to local charities.
Newburgh butcher Sandy Ingram’s “red hot chili porker” sausages were also a hit with the crowd, who rested between shopping and taking in exhibitions by enjoying the warm weather in outdoor seating areas.
There was a stage featuring local musicians who serenaded the crowds as they tucked into some of their purchases, or enjoyed refreshments from the bar.
Particularly long queues formed outside a stand selling Portsoy ice cream and stretched outside a fish and chips van.
Many visitors took advantage of the copious number of free samples on offer to try products they may otherwise bypass – and a stall selling goat meat was frequented by people looking to broaden their palate.
The Scottish Goat Meat Company, which is based near Keith, dished out free pots of goat curry to entice visitors into making purchases.
An award for the best small stand was presented to Sweet Toots Cakery, a Bridge of Don bakery firm which attracted the eye of judges by selling its wares from an old horse box which was given a bright pink makeover for its new purpose.
Owner, Danielle Smith, said the unique stand proved a popular backdrop for the many people taking “selfie” photographs at the event.
The prize for the best large stand went to Glen Garioch and Meldrum House – which had pitched up shop indoors.
Fiona Sanderson, Glen Garioch’s visitor centre manager, said explained that the distillery’s “dram tram” bar was specially commissioned for such events.
She added: “We have been giving away Glen Garioch marmalade cocktails, along with food from Meldrum House’s new menu as well as showcasing some of our tours at the distillery and small batch whiskies.”
The Perthshire-based Bruadar distillery has traded at Taste of Grampian during all 20 events, and the firm’s Caroline Kummerer reflected on the changes she has observed across the past two decades.
She said: “When we started there were about a dozen stalls, but it has grown so much since then and hopefully it will continue to do so.”