An Aberdeenshire couple are set to return to a local food festival which sparked the idea for their thriving business. Twelve months after their first visit to the Deeside Local Food Festival, Wes Lewis – co-founder of the Seafood Bothy along with wife Maria – will be one of the foodie experts speaking at this year’s event.

A firm favourite in the North-east’s culinary calendar, the Deeside Local Food Festival returns for its fifth year on Sunday 15th September. Featuring a staggering 74 food and drink businesses, 92% of whom hail from Aberdeen City and Shire, the festival will take place at Cults Academy in Aberdeen.

Wes Lewis will be one of four speakers from across the North-east, hoping to inspire festival-goers with their passion for quality local food, and their tantalising tales about everything from crabs to chocolate.

A keen fisherman, Wes recently bought a boat with a licence – the ‘Even Less’ – so he could run commercially out of Stonehaven harbour. His reputation quickly spread, with people queuing up on the quayside to buy his catch as soon as he landed.

The inspiration for the couple to grow their burgeoning business struck at the Deeside Food Festival last year, where Maria spotted some vintage horseboxes. Finding that retirement was not for her, she decided to put her restaurant background to good use. A horsebox was duly converted and the Seafood Bothy was born. From her trailer on Stonehaven Pier, Maria prepares a feast of seafood street-food, freshly caught by her husband off the Mearns coastline.

Maria said,

“I thought I could maybe sell Wes’ produce and do a little street-food – well it’s gone bonkers! We open for 5 hours, 3 days a week, and it’s manic – the only thing that stops us is the weather!

“It will be a delight for us to return to the festival where it all began – it’s a truly unique event which plays a vital role in showcasing and nurturing the artisan food and drink industry in the North-east.”

At the festival Wes will discuss a range of topics, from the importance of sustainable fishing to the dangers of working with the pincer-clawed crustaceans. He will be joined by Jamie Hutcheon of Cocoa Ooze, Anna Mitchell from Castleton Farm, and Jenny Fyall from Udny Pumpkins.

For the first time this year, festival goers will have the opportunity to create their own signature bottle of gin at the gin-blending workshops run by the Deeside Distillery. After discovering the array of flavours of the Distillery’s Still River Gin, they will go on to craft their own, hand-labelled 250ml bottle. Booking is essential for this unique opportunity to meet and learn from master gin blenders.

Younger foodies have not been forgotten. They can try their hand at whipping up a selection of delights including cheese scones, custard creams and rocky road bars in the afternoon tea workshops run by Lynne from Kids in the Kitchen Aberdeen. A number of other activities have been lined up just for young visitors, including sports and food related games, activities, crafts and quizzes.

At the heart of the festival will be an extensive local produce market, where over 50 stalls will showcase and sell a diverse range of the finest locally produced food and drink from across the North-east. Visitors can enjoy meeting the local producers and sampling their specialities before they buy.

The vibrant Street Food Café will be serving up an eclectic range of lunch options, accompanied by live music from local artists.

The much-loved chef demonstrations return for another year, as some of the North-east’s most distinguished chefs serve up culinary masterpieces. Compered by Craig Wilson of Eat on the Green and Lauren Mitchell of Northsound, the Marquee stage will host Graham Mitchell of the Newmachar Hotel, Orry Shand of Entier Services, Nick Coetzer of Roots Catering and Ross Cochrane of the Rothesay Rooms.

Seafood Scotland are also sponsoring a stage. Celebrating Scotland’s rich seafood bounty, it will be compered by John and Cat Franchetti. Top chefs Ross Cochrane and Orry Shand will be joined by Kevin Dalgleish of the Chester Hotel, to demonstrate how to cook a mouth-watering menu of fish and shellfish dishes. Lots of fishy-themed fun activities for kids will also be running at the stage, including challenges, competitions and storytelling.

Festival organiser, Rachel Gambro said:

“The Deeside Local Food Festival is a wonderful opportunity for our local community to come together and have fun, while sampling the bountiful larder of quality, fresh and delicious produce that is right on our doorstep here in the North-east. In particular, we are proud to champion the region’s proud fishing heritage, with a number of producers and events, such as our Seafood Scotland stage, celebrating all things seafood. We look forward to welcoming everyone along to what will be our most ambitious and exciting festival yet!”

Deeside Local Food Festival is supported by the Connect Local Regional Food Fund, which is financed by The Scottish Government, in partnership with industry, and has been created to promote local food and drink, in line with Ambition 2030. Aberdeen City Council and CALA Homes are also generously supporting the festival this year, which takes place on the last day of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight 2019 – an annual celebration of the best Scotland’s food and drink sector has to offer.

To book places at any of the talks or workshops, please visit: www.deesidefoodfestival.co.uk.