Scotland’s spice king, Tony Singh, has been appointed Chef Ambassador of Stranraer Oyster Festival in recognition of his support for the festival and his engagement with the community of Stranraer.
Tony was the headline chef the last time the festival ran, in September 2019, after which Covid-19 forced a two year hiatus.
Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the community group that organises Stranraer Oyster Festival, said: “Tony’s enthusiastic support of the festival, his exceptional culinary skills and his genuine warmth in connecting with festival visitors was absolutely inspiring when he joined us in 2019. So, I was keen to secure his longer term involvement in the Oyster Festival and I was absolutely delighted when he agreed to become our Chef Ambassador.”
“Tony’s appearance in Stranraer had an energising effect on the local community that remained long after the festival had finished. When he wasn’t impressing hundreds with his culinary skills, he was posing for photographs, talking shop with anyone who cared to ask about a menu, and enjoying a cold beer with many local friends he made during his visit. Never has anyone blended so easily into a community, and we are thoroughly looking forward to welcoming him back to Stranraer.”
Tony Singh will join fellow ‘Cooking with the Stars’ chef Clodagh McKenna at the 3-day harbour-side festival, which takes place from 2nd to 4th September. He’ll host a repeat of his sell-out show from 2019 ‘An Audience with Tony and Massi’, alongside local award-winning mixologist, Massi Lisi, on Friday 2nd, and he’ll lead a cooking demonstration in the Kitchen Marquee on Saturday 3rd September.
Tony Singh said: “What the community of Stranraer have achieved with their oyster festival is remarkable, and I’m delighted to support it. Scotland has a diverse and delicious natural larder, and the wild, native oysters of Loch Ryan are right up there with the very best our country has to offer.
“What impressed me most about Stranraer Oyster Festival in 2019 was the diversity and accessibility of the food experiences and the programme. This is a real celebration of place and of produce, of which the people of Stranraer should be rightly proud. The passion of the organisers in showcasing the very best of the area is impressive. For anyone with an interest in Scottish food, and seafood in particular, this is an unmissable event, and I’m very much look forward to returning in September.”
Native Oyster success
Stranraer Oyster Festival marks the opening of the British native oyster season. To avoid the breeding season, native oysters in the UK are traditionally harvested only during months with an ‘R’ in the name.
The native oyster was once widespread around Scotland and much of the UK but has been harvested to near-extinction. Loch Ryan next to Stranraer is Scotland’s last remaining native oyster fishery. To support the growth of the oyster bed the fishery return 95% of each catch to the water, gradually dispersing the oysters across the loch to encourage breeding. The conservation-management of the Loch Ryan oyster bed has been so successful that oysters from Loch Ryan are now being used by pilot projects across the UK and Europe to try to re-establish native oyster beds elsewhere.
While the famous wild, native oysters of Loch Ryan are the focus of the festivities, you don’t need to love seafood to enjoy the event. As well as the two celebrity chefs, Tony Singh and Clodagh McKenna, Stranraer Oyster Festival’s programme includes oyster shucking and oyster eating competitions, local chef demos and talks, extreme pond dipping, more than 60 market and food stalls, the Big Oyster Bash, children’s entertainment, live music, a massive oyster bar and a spectacular firework display over Loch Ryan.
Return visit for Singh
Romano added: “While it might not be good practice to ask the chef from a previous food festival to do a repeat showing, the good will Tony shared in 2019 left us thinking we just had to have him back. When we approached he didn’t hesitate and nothing was a stumbling block to him being here. I don’t think there is any doubt at all that while this will be Tony’s second visit to Stranraer Oyster Festival, it most certainly won’t be his last.”
Stranraer Oyster Festival is sponsored by Ascensos and is supported through EventScotland’s National Events Funding Programme and Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Events Strategic Fund. The work of Stranraer Development Trust is also supported by Kilgallioch Community Fund.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events, said: “I am delighted that EventScotland are supporting the Stranraer Oyster Festival in 2022 and it’s great to see Tony Singh joining the line-up as Chef Ambassador. Scotland is the perfect stage for food and drink events with a world-renowned natural larder and I look forward to celebrating our world-class seafood in Dumfries and Galloway this September.”
Tickets cost £5 per day or £10 for the full three-day event for over 16s, with concessions available. 16s and under can attend free of charge. Additional charges apply for selected chef demo events and experiences. Tickets are available to purchase now.