Top chefs provide a taste of what’s great about Oban
A LEADING Scottish chef returned to his home town of Oban at the weekend to headline the three- day Festival of the Sea.
Fresh from his appearance on the BBC’s Great British Menu series 10, Graham Campbell, who in 2009 was one of the youngest Scottish chefs to be awarded a Michelin star, gave cookery demonstrations using seaweed and sharing recipes at Rockfield, his old primary school.
The centre is now a community hub run by Oban Communities Trust and was the main venue for this year’s Festival of the Sea, organised by the Ocean Explorer Centre at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Dunstaffnage.
Cooking demonstrations were also given by Paul Leonard, head chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Isle of Eriska, as well as Rachel Gillon from the Scottish Salmon Producers.
Michael Russell MSP dropped in to the festival on Saturday. He said: ‘The festival was a great event that brought the best seafood and searelated produce to the heart of Oban and provided a focus for visitors and locals on a sunny holiday weekend. This type of thing really helps the town.’
The Festival of the Sea usually takes place every two years but, following the success of the festival in 2015, SAMS decided to offer a more compact additional weekend event this year to meet demands for activities in the town.
The ‘mini’ festival included a large programme of events and activities, such as trips to SAMS’ seaweed farm off the coast of Kerrera, talks and author readings, children’s crafting and science workshops, a public consultation, and a seafood and craft fair.
A spokesperson for SAMS said: ‘We estimate that 2,300 people attended the weekend event at the Rockfield Centre. The boat trips to our seaweed farm were fully booked, and there was a variety of stalls at the Rockfield Centre on Saturday and Sunday, from seafood to craft and jewellery makers.
‘On the Friday we had a fantastic event at Oban High School’s home economics department, where we spoke to 180 second-year pupils about food from the sea. This covered how we use salt, the ecology of langoustines and how they end up on our plate, algae as food and how alginates are used in food processing.
‘We also held various science workshops and talks throughout the weekend, and the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network was also there to increase awareness of sharks and their ongoing shark tagging programme. The main goal of the festival was to make people feel inspired by the marine environment, proud of what the Oban area has to offer and willing to do what it takes to conserve it.’
Festival director Dr Anuschka Miller, of SAMS, said: ‘The festival is a great way to strengthen awareness of the local environment within the community and we are fortunate to have a base like the Rockfield Centre.
“The centre lends itself brilliantly to community events such as ours and addresses the need for an events venue in the town centre. The location attracted passers-by and this allowed us to grow our audience, so we are planning on using the Rockfield Centre as a base for the festival in the future.
“We have had huge support from the community and I would like to thank everyone who helped out over the festival, especially Judith Vajk, Graham MacQueen and Oban Communities Trust.’
Brother and sister Findlay, four, and Mollie, two, Campbell from Taynuilt show off their jellyfish made at the Rockfield Centre. Graham Campbell with rich pickings. Beata Borowska and Magdalena Sadlik with their mouthwatering Polish cakes at the craft fare in the Rockfield Centre.
Mike Russell MSP samples the oysters at the Festival of the Sea.
Fiona Bird who gave a talk on the health benefits of seaweed.
Chainsaw artist Ronnie MacDonald goes eye to eye with his magnificent carving of a kingfisher.
The Taynuilt Wee Swing Band kept the crowd entertained on a beautiful day.