Top chefs pro­vide a taste of what’s great about Oban

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

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.’

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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.

t23fes­tf­sea04 All pic­tures: Kevin McG­lynn

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.

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