Six of the nation’s top chefs announced for unique Scottish fine dining festival Signature

Six of the nation’s top chefs have been announced in the line-up for Singature, a unique fine dining festival in Aberdeen.

Published 27th May 2019
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

The chefs - who hold a collective six Michelin stars and 19 AA Rosettes between them - will be heading to the north east in November.

Taking place over 13 days, the festival will see leading culinary lights host their own intimate private dinners at the city's Chester Hotel.

Glyn Purnell, Martin Wishart, Brian Grigor and Roy Brett will be making return appearances to Signature from November 3 to 15, while new faces for this year's line-up will be Phil Howard and Daniel Clifford.

Staged within one venue – the hotel’s 2 AA Rosette restaurant – Signature sees chefs and their kitchen brigades visiting to recreate the menu experience from their own restaurants.

Only 80 places will be available at each dinner.

Now in its third year, Signature aims to showcase Aberdeen as a destination for gourmets and highlight the exceptional quality of raw ingredients found on the city’s doorstep.

It is the brainchild of Graham Wood, owner of The Chester Hotel, who saw the local appetite for fine dining through the popularity of his own upscale venue.

He said: “We have some outstanding produce available to us here in the north east, yet for many years Aberdeen simply didn’t appear on food lovers’ radars. That is quite ironic given that so much of our raw ingredients – seafood, game and fruit – is recognised as being of outstanding quality and used in world-class restaurants all over the UK and beyond.

“What we wanted to do with Signature was to bring together the best of both worlds: to take these locally sourced ingredients and for exceptionally talented chefs to create simply stunning menus in an intimate setting.

“The success of the event speaks for itself. It has sold out the past two years – we’ve had to operate a waiting list for some dinners – and we’ve had guests travel considerable distances to be part of it. Signature, along with all the other food-focused events and markets in Aberdeen, is putting the city on the map as a must-visit destination for foodies.”

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Michelin star holder Glynn Purnell will be the first chef to grace the kitchens of The Chester Hotel on November 4.

Also known as the Yummy Brummie, Purnell – a two-time winner of the Great British Menu – has two venues in his native Birmingham. He’s a favourite on cookery shows including Saturday Kitchen and My Kitchen Rules.

November 6 will see Scottish household name Martin Wishart as the host. His restaurant in Edinburgh was the first in the city to be awarded a Michelin star: he now has four other venues and travels the world to provide culinary expertise to dining ventures.

Seafood specialist Roy Brett will be in the kitchen on November 8. Chef proprietor of Edinburgh’s Ondine, which holds two AA Rosettes, Brett has worked alongside Mark Hix in London and critically acclaimed seafood chef Rick Stein at his restaurant in Padstow.

Appearing at Signature for the first time on November 11 will be Phil Howard of Elystan Street, Chelsea. A holder of two Michelin stars, Howard kickstarted his rise to the top of the culinary tree in 1991 with The Square – the Mayfair restaurant which he owned for 25 years. A purveyor of pure, simple food full of vitality and flavour, he is now a mentor on the Great British menu.

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November 13 sees Daniel Clifford, chef patron of two Michelin-starred Midsummer House, Cambridge, arrive for his Signature stint. A former Chefs’ Chef of the Year, he is best known for his imaginative style of cooking, reinventing classic British dishes. Clifford has twice won the Great British Menu and has returned as a mentor.

Brian Grigor, the Scotland-based consultant for Chez Roux, will bring the curtain down on Signature on November 15. Part of the team that secured a Michelin star for Number One Restaurant within The Balmoral in Edinburgh, Grigor has a passion for homegrown produce. He was the first ever winner of the Scottish Game Chef of the Year title.

Signature will once again this year be raising money for good causes. In 2018, the event made an incredible £239,000 donation to Friends of the Neonatal Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, with a further £12,000 going to Friendly Access – a charity supporting those with hidden disabilities.

• Tickets for each of the chef dinners are priced at £150 and are available via the website 

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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