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Dundee Food Festival: A Culinary Celebration of Sustainability and Community

09/07/2024

By Paige Robinson

From the moment the festival began at 10 am on Saturday, Dundee City Square buzzed with excitement.

The event brought together local producers, chefs, distillers, and food enthusiasts, showcasing the best of Dundee’s culinary scene while emphasising sustainability and community spirit.

A Feast for the Senses

The festival hub was alive with food stalls offering delectable street food, eco-friendly markets, and a chill-out zone where live music and street performers entertained the crowds.

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The atmosphere was vibrant, with people leisurely wandering around the city square, exploring various stalls offering meadowsweet mocktails, stonebaked pizzas, pastrami trout, locally foraged ingredients, and upcycled jute tote bags.

The festival included delightful attractions such as live music, chefs on stilts and giant seagulls roaming the grounds, providing entertainment for kids and adults.

These playful features added a sense of whimsy to the event, making it enjoyable for people of all ages.

Larder Magazine spoke with Chef Dean Bank, MasterChef: The Professionals Finalist, who showcased locally sourced ingredients and sustainable practices at the event.

“We want to pay homage to and showcase our local suppliers. Our lobsters came from Arbroath. Tommy Yule is our fisherman, and our trout pastrami has trout from Scotland that is sustainably farmed.

“Barnett’s Bakery has baked the buns and then we’ve produced them in our home, Perth and Harrow, and it’s being sold here today.”

When asked about the pastrami trout, Mr Banks said: “We do our trout pastrami in most of our sites.

“It was originally a Dulce dish from Edinburgh; we do trout pastrami with cream cheese and rye, and we do a two-day cure on the fish, smothered in pastrami spices similar to Kate’s deli New York Style Recipe.”

Lobster Roll and Trout Pastrami Bagel at Dean Banks

Dean Banks also showcased his multi-award-winning Lunun Gin and newly released diamond-filtered MOND Vodka at the festival. Both products are produced locally in Arbroath.

Sustainability and Local Pride

The event aimed to raise awareness about the food system’s impact on global emissions and encouraged attendees to think critically about their food choices.

At the heart of the festival was a Sustainable Charter, which participating organisations pledged to follow.

This charter emphasised incorporating seasonal local produce, reducing food waste, and eliminating single-use plastics.

Councillor Heather Anderson, Convener for Climate and Biodiversity, emphasised the festival’s focus on sustainability, saying: “What we know is that the food system itself contributes to a third of global emissions; what we’re trying to do with this event is bring together local producers and fantastic food and give people the opportunity to think about food, where it comes from, and the choices we can make. 

“We’ve had over forty organisations involved in putting this together; it’s a first of its kind. That’s why we’re focusing on eating, playing, drinking and also thinking at this event.”

The festival also encouraged attendees to use public transportation, carpool, bike, or walk to the events, further reducing its environmental impact.

Morag and Malcolm Whyte, Fig & Fromage

Diverse Food Offerings

Several food vendors were at the V&A Waterfront for the event. Multi-award-winning Heather Street Food, permanently located there, offers a variety of great-tasting coffee, hot fresh donuts, filled bagels, halloumi fries, ice cream, and more.

Flat White from Heather Street Food

Troff on the Go came for the event; they serve Middle Eastern-themed food, including chicken shawarma, which was on its second 10kg of meat by 2 pm, and vegetarian falafels on flatbread served with salad, jalapenos, sweet and spicy sauce, and garlic mayo.

The falafel was refreshing, and the flavours complimented the dish well.

Middle Eastern themed Vegetarian Falafel served on a soft flatbread

Stag Bites the Hog offers a range of quality slow-cooked meats. Their menu included Smoked Hotdogs, Vegan Dogs and Pork, and Chili Nachos.

Lewis Davies, owner of Stag Bites the Dog, told Larder Magazine: “We specialise in slow-cooking and barbeque, and we wanted to showcase that this weekend.”  

The vegan dog’s authentic flavour and texture, with fried onions, ketchup and mustard, offered a satisfying indulgence, reimagining a classic comfort food.

Vegan Dog from Stag Bites The Dog

At the Festival Hub, Serendipities‘ food stall offered a pick-your-own Buddha bowl station, along with homemade traybakes.

All the food was vegan, and the bowl of choice was garlic and sage roasties, maple roasted parsnips, ginger garlic and tofu with creamy turmeric and ginger sauce.

The food was delicious and flavoursome, and overall, their stall embodied their mission of bringing community, social and environmental change through delicious and unique food.

Buddha Bowl from Serendipities

The Barrie box, outside of Cupar, is all grown on the farm, shop in the farm that sells fruit veg, sweet treats, and baked goods. They had fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries for sale.

A staff member said, ” We often host our markets on the farm but haven’t done something like this before.” 

The Tayport Distillery stall bustled with activity, drawing crowds eager to sample its handcrafted spirits.

Renowned for its premium gin, vodka, and liqueurs, the distillery prides itself on its innovative techniques and commitment to local sourcing. 

Kecia McDougall, founding member of Tayport Distillery

Community Engagement and Future Prospects

The Dundee Food Festival has emerged as a vibrant celebration of culinary excellence, sustainability, and community spirit.

Through a diverse array of interactive workshops and collaborative events, the festival has created a platform for people to connect, learn, and share their passion for food and sustainable practices.

Alice Christison, owner of M.ad Agency, the marketing firm behind Dundee Food Festival, said: “It’s been a fantastic response from the whole of Dundee; everyone has gotten behind the festival, from the people involved to the local producers, the local businesses, and also the public.

“There’s been an incredible buzz about the event, and we’re looking forward to showcasing the Dundee food network for years to come.”

Echoing this sentiment, The Lord Provost of the city of Dundee, Bill Campbell said: “Dundee is a fantastic eating destination, and this festival is a great way to spotlight our thriving food and drink scene.”

By bringing together local businesses, producers, and enthusiastic attendees, the Dundee Food Festival has highlighted the city’s gastronomic excellence and reinforced its commitment to sustainability and community values.

The festival is a testament to Dundee’s thriving food culture and potential to become a prominent culinary destination in the years to come.

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