‘World Buttery Championship’ launched in bid to highlight and preserve the traditional buttery

A local food group in Aberdeenshire have launched the first World Buttery Championship in a bid to find the "world’s best traditional buttery".

Published 6th Jun 2018
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

The competition, which is being run by Slow Food Aberdeen City and Shire, will be held on the 16th of June at NESCOL’s Aberdeen City Campus and will pit baker against baker in order to crown the "best buttery in the world".

Amateurs and professionals alike will join together in celebration of the humble buttery, a unique breakfast item associated with the region.

Outwith Aberdeenshire, the buttery (also known as a rowie or roll) is virtually unheard of, but historically it was taken onboard boats by fishermen sailing from ports up and down the North East coast.

The traditional buttery was a crispy, flaky and buttery, salted bread product which was favoured by local boats because of its high fat and salt content.

Since then the buttery has changed significantly, as event coordinator Martin Gillespie explained:  “Over a number of years the traditional buttery recipe has been altered to the stage where it has become almost unrecognisable.

"In many cases, the commercial production of butteries has seen the original ingredients of butter and lard replaced with margarine and palm oil. Not only does this affect the taste and texture of the buttery but the use of non-sustainable palm oil has a negative environmental impact.”

These changes have prompted Slow Food to classify the traditional North East delicacy as an ‘endangered heritage food’ in their Ark of Taste.

The international food movement, which raises awareness of local and global food issues such as this and champions small-scale agriculture and artisan food production, describes the Ark of Taste as a "valuable record of our food heritage".

Wendy Barrie, Slow Food Scotland’s leader for the Ark of Taste said: “The Ark of Taste was created by Slow Food to catalogue the existence of endangered foods and associated food culture lest they are lost or forgotten forever.”

The World Buttery Championship has been launched to highlight the buttery’s new status and to raise awareness of the Slow Food organisation.

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Martin Gillespie said: “We are delighted that the buttery has been entered into the Ark of Taste as it ensures that we do not lose or forget the culture and traditions surrounding it.

"With the World Buttery Championship we hope to promote the traditional buttery recipe in order to help preserve the heritage of the buttery and to remind people what a buttery should really taste like.”

According to Martin, the festival has had a terrific response so far with amateur bakers right through to ex-professionals all entering.

Currently, in Aberdeen there are no bakers who use the traditional recipe, though perhaps thanks to the event launch, one well-known company J.G. Ross is set to add the traditional buttery to their product range.

The competition will be judged by local professionals and Slow Food Aberdeen City & Shire committee members and is open to buttery lovers of any skill level.

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• Full details of the event can be found at www.slowfoodaberdeen.com

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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