Skip to Contents

Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
What is the 50/50 Principle? What is the 50/50 Principle?

Simon Preston

The Town is the Menu


They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon

Edward Lear

An investigation of local food and eating customs to develop a signature menu for Huntly

Throughout the autumn of 2012 Simon Preston, a creative food consultant based in Edinburgh, worked with local people to unearth Huntly's food identity.

Huntly was once a market town; it serviced the local community, acting as a centre for the sale and distribution of local, and perhaps not so local, produce. We can imagine that, like many other small towns across Scotland, the food eaten locally was seasonal and determined by what was available: what the farmers could grow, what the land had to offer, and of course local taste. Today we would call this a local food culture–a connnection between the food we eat and the place we live in. But over the years local produce has become less of a determining factor, traditional recipes have been forgotten or ignored as tastes have changed. Is it possible to re-invent a meaningful food culture for a place that no longer has one?


Simone created a special dining table, which passed through the town and countryside, and asked those that passed by to join him for a cup of tea and some cake ("swap stories for cake"). Simone asked those that joined him to share their stories about Huntly, gathering local stories and experiences. Then, working with local and visiting chefs Simon transformed these tales into recipes and dishes for cooking and sharing at home, at work, at school, in the street and in local businesses.

Simon previewed one of the Signature dishes (Hairst Steak and Ale Pie with neeps and a treacle scone crust) at the 'Halloween in Huntly' event, where he gathered people's favourite dishes in the form of 'Last Suppers' drawn on paper plates. He also worked with artist Darren Farquhar on a Halloween Supper performance. 

On Saturday 1 December 2012, the Huntly Signature Menu was launched at restaurants and cafes around the town and in street food form at the Farmer's Market.

Simon met with local chefs Keira Allen from the Huntly Hotel, David Sherriffs from the Gordon Arms Hotel, Linda Meiklejohn from the Castle Hotel, Margaret Paterson from the Park Lane Cafe and Merlyn Riggs to transform the collection of stories and local's 'Last Suppers' into a menu.

In November executive chef at CREATE (Observer Food Monthly Ethical Restaurant of the Year winners) and former head chef at Harvey Nicholls, Leeds Richard Allen visited Huntly to try out the menu dishes, which culminated in a tasting lunch at the empty shop.

You can now ask for these dishes at the following local establishments: Huntly Hotel, Gordon Arms Hotel, Castle Hotel, Park Lane Cafe, Deans Cafe and Bistro, The Larder, Destiny Cafe, Tesco and more...

Since his visit to Huntly, Simon has been engaged by BBC to develop other Town is the Menu projects across Britain.


<< Hide