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Community / Foodies prepare for online festival

MORE details have been released about a four-hour live event taking place online this weekend which will bring Shetland’s food and drink scene to a global audience for the first time.

Taste of Shetland is taking its annual food and drink festival to Facebook between 11am and 3pm on Saturday due to Covid-19 restrictions.

There will be cookery demonstrations, films created by local businesses and tasting sessions with local producers as well as live traditional Shetland music.

The live action will come from a contributor-only, pop-up broadcast studio in Bigton Hall run by Andy Steven of Shetland Webcams.

Shetland Food and Drink chairwoman Marian Armitage will make a stuffed “centrepiece” monkfish tail, alongside a more economical version using catfish or tusk.

Organising body SFAD, which recently secured a new three-year funding package, now has a diverse range of almost 80 local businesses signed up as members.

Festival viewers will be able to learn how some of the islands’ leading producers make their trademark goods and dishes.

SFAD manager Claire White said: “Our organisation and our members are stepping way out of their comfort zones in staging an online Taste of Shetland festival, but we feel that this is a risk worth taking.

“The event will offer something for everyone: Shetland fans worldwide, foodies, member businesses and locals seeking online family entertainment in the tattie holidays.

“We hope to reach new audiences and explore new opportunities, and have fun along the way.

“We want to say a huge thank you to our three event funders and to our members for rallying around and contributing to the festival in lots of different ways during these trying times.”

Acclaimed chef Gary Maclean will put in an appearance cooking mussels and mackerel, while Jakob Eunson of Uradale Farm will serve up a roasted lamb shoulder.

Kirsten Williamson of Scoop will offer an Asian twist with Shetland lamb gyozas, while Suze Walker of Island Botanicals will show viewers how to make a special rose hip vinegar.

Lerwick eatery The Dowry, meanwhile, is contributing a recipe film, while Shetland Young Farmers will feature regularly throughout the day, which also sees the launch of new Shetland Reel gin, a Lerwick Brewery beer cocktail demonstration and live music from brothers Ross and Ryan Couper.

Shetland Food and Drink’s finance officer Mary Andreas will serve up Hayhoull beef olives accompanied, with a nod to Sunniva Henry, by “creamy tattie clatch”.

NHS Shetland’s chief executive Michael Dickson, meanwhile, will be speaking about the importance of healthy eating – and offering up his spin on the traditional British Homity pie.

The event is funded by EventScotland, the Connect Local Regional Food Fund and Scottish Sea Farms.

VisitScotland director of events Paul Bush OBE said: “This year has seen unprecedented challenges for our industry so it is encouraging to see Taste of Shetland progressing, albeit in new and innovative ways.”

Connect Local Regional Food Fund project manager Ceri Ritchie said it is “great to see how businesses have adapted to the current business environment, and this event has the potential to deliver long-term benefits to Shetland’s local food and drink sector”.

Scottish Sea Farms’ Northern Isles regional manager Richard Darbyshire, meanwhile, said the “running order highlights what a wealth of riches Shetland’s larder can lay claim to”.