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The Social Bitches Review Champagne & Oysters with our National Chef

The Social Bitches with National Chef Gary MacLean

Having shamelessly jumped the queue at Bonnie & Wild, we’re here for an experience physically impossible to resist: a cheeky pop-up champagne & oyster bar. Darling! Helloooo! An absolute must at the Edinburgh Seafood Festival, it’s also an opportunity to meet Scotland’s National Chef, the fabulous Gary Maclean. 


Not only a man with a generous pour, Gary’s an ambassador for Scottish seafood; an advocate of healthy eating, working with families, schools, even prisons across the country; and in the six seconds of free time he has left, a creator of stunning cookbooks. 


In Scottish Kitchen, he reimagines all the big hitters from tattie scone to Arbroath smokie. Meanwhile, his more recent Scottish Celebrations shows how even these bitches can whip up a mouthwatering feast for any occasion, from Burns Night to Hogmanay. 


Naturally, we’re hinting, rather heavily, for a free autographed copy, though in the meantime we’re on to our second saucy bottle of Champagne Piaff [ boasting brioche on the nose, pear notes, vanilla finish ] and feel we have much to discuss, as well as eat. 

West Coast Oysters with dazzling sauces

Starting with a platter of lush West Coast oysters, dressed with a series of dazzling sauces: Chili Ginger, Shallots Sherry Vinegar, or our absolute fave, the citrus twist that is Yuzu & Toasted Sesame.

Even more delicious, is Gary’s passion for Scotland’s fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Inspired by the post-Brexit madness that saw trucks full of fresh seafood stuck at Dover, he wants everyone - especially us Scots - to celebrate this precious resource. 


“I like to stick my chest out,” he says. “And tell the world we’re the best!” 


No argument here. After an absolute shedload of oysters, our thought now is to drink this pop-up dry, then head directly to Gary’s other food stall for ding-ding round two. The wonderful Creel Caught sells the finest seafood year-round. 


Soon we’re enjoying a naughty Albariño, and taking a deep dive into a massive platter of heavenly smoked mackerel pátê, surrounded by lush langoustine, prawn Rose Marie, smoked salmon, olives, cornichons and Arran mustard slaw. Oosh!

Fritto Misto

Accompanying our “entree” is a trio of sliders - including a rather pleasing artisan fish finger - and the show-stopping Fritto Misto, with its epic selection of perfectly crisp - never oily- prawns, calamari, lemon sole and vege with spiced aioli.


Then, to ensure one’s gut biome is operating at peak efficiency, we’re finishing this particular celebration with our new obsession, Kimchi-loaded potatoes with cheddar.


While our plan was 'just' to pop into Gary’s pop-up, now it seems we’ve been here three hours. Even so, it would be a crime to leave, without having at least one more bottle of fizz with this inspiring human being.


Gary, you truly are a legend of the sea!


Creel Caught @ Bonnie & Wild - St James Quarter, Level 4 EH1 3AE

B&W Opening hours: Monday - Sunday 9 am - 12 pm

Edinburgh Seafood Festival returns May 2025.






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