Gary Maclean, MasterChef: The Professionals Champion and Scotland’s first ever National Chef, will be demonstrating his inspirational culinary skills at this year’s Taste of Shetland Festival. The event takes place from 5-7 October 2018. Gary – a huge fan of Shetland and a passionate advocate for cooking fresh, nutritious and locally sourced food – was invited to headline the Festival by Shetland Food and Drink, the organisers of this high-profile annual event.

Shetland has the most amazing fresh, natural produce,” says Gary Maclean. “I visited last year and was not only blown away by the quality of the ingredients but the care producers have for their product. I’ve already sampled Shetland’s fantastic fish and seafood and I completely understand why it’s in demand all over the world. I cannot wait to taste the produce available at the Taste of Shetland Festival, and meet the producers behind it. It’s very exciting to be returning to Shetland and be invited to lead such a high-profile event.

Gary has worked across restaurants in Glasgow ranging from fine dining to bargain pizza. As a chef lecturer at the City of Glasgow College he said his foremost aim was to get across the message of how simple it is to cook from scratch with local produce. Alumni from Maclean’s course include chefs who went onto work at Buckingham Palace, Dumfries House and several Michelin-star restaurants including Knockinaam Lodge, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Restaurant Martin Wishart. Part of Gary’s role as Scotland’s National Chef is to celebrate Scottish produce and inspire people to make the most of locally-sourced, healthy, sustainable and affordable food.

Marian Armitage, Chair of Shetland Food and Drink, says: “Gary is a passionate advocate for cooking fresh, nutritious and locally sourced food, and has a huge passion for education and inspiring others. He was one of the most popular winners ever of MasterChef: The Professionals and you can absolutely see why when he’s in action – he makes cooking with local produce easy and accessible to all. We are very lucky to be welcoming him to Shetland to lead the Festival. We’re sure he is going to be a huge hit.”

Gary will be appearing at the Taste of Shetland Festival on the morning of Saturday 6 October where he will deliver a cookery demonstration in the Festival’s Food Theatre. The Festival’s organisers are also planning a special event, hosted by Gary, on the evening of Friday 5 October.

Tickets for the Friday event will go on sale first to Shetland Food and Drink members. If you would like to become a member, you can find out more information here.

Jill Franklin, Manager of Shetland Food and Drink says: “Gary’s ability to mentor and inspire a whole range of people, and his support for using locally-sourced food and drink, is a fantastic combination for our Festival visitors. Gary’s session on the Saturday morning will really showcase his skills and, we hope, show just what’s possible with local ingredients. For those who are interested in learning even more from Gary, we are planning a special session on the Friday evening, which will give visitors the opportunity to ask questions and gain even more ideas and cooking inspiration.

“Tickets will be available to our members first – whether individual, full or associate members – and after that to the general public. If people would like be notified of when tickets go on sale, they should sign up to our email bulletin, details of which can be found at the bottom of the ‘about us’ page on our website. There is also information about membership on our website, too.”

The Taste of Shetland Festival will return again this year to the Clickimin Leisure Centre in Lerwick, building on its continued success there. The Taste of Shetland Festival last year attracted over 3,000 visitors, and promotes everything food and drink in Shetland, celebrating producers and outlets, big and small.