Buckie chef swaps parties with Jason Donovan to bring food truck revolution to New Elgin

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Danny Grant grafted his whole life to carve out a career at the top end of the hospitality industry. He spent years working in Scotland’s best kitchens, and even partied the night away with Jason Donovan. So why did he give it all up to open a takeaway stall in New Elgin?

The answer has as much to do with the food truck revolution sweeping the north-east as it does about Danny, who this month launched his Nae Bad Food project from a static caravan in the garden of New Elgin pub the Kirkie Bar.

Danny is focused on quality food and a good atmosphere.

“My idea of comfort food is not your Michelin-starred restaurant,” says Danny, who lists the Craigellachie Hotel, Gleneagles and The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews as previous employers. “My comfort food is simple, good-quality local produce. That’s what I enjoy cooking, so that’s what I wanted to do.”

The food truck revolution

Nae Bad Food is the latest in a line of food trucks that are shaking up the restaurant sector across the north-east.

The mobile kitchens are giving young, adventurous chefs like Danny the chance to run their own businesses. The trucks are a first step on a career path that could lead to a more traditional form of restaurant. “There is a future here if I nail it,” acknowledges Danny. “I want to make the food consistently good quality and build the brand and then in two or three years’ time I’d look to get a bigger space.”

What’s available at Elgin food truck Nae Bad Food?

The menu at Elgin’s Nae Bad Food is a perfect example of what food trucks can do well – people-pleasers such as burgers and dirty fries with a few twists on classic flavours.

The menu at Nae Bad Food features burgers, nachos and dirty fries, plus a few surprises.

Meanwhile, Danny’s background has inspired him to line up some surprise specials.

The experienced chef is planning a line of monkfish tacos using local seafood, mustard-smothered chilli dogs sourced from a local butcher and Yorkshire pudding wraps. “Because I’ve been in the industry a while, I have the drive and the attitude and the passion to smash it and adapt to what New Elgin wants,” he adds. Danny freely admits New Elgin is not exactly a culinary hot spot.

But the Buckie native, whose mum and dad live in New Elgin, is on a mission to bring everything he has learned as a chef to his adopted hometown.

Elgin food truckDanny gets to grips with some of his dishes.

The 27-year-old has been assisted by the owners of the Kirkie Bar, who have given him the run of their beer garden. The garden seats more than 40, and Danny envisages a space that can cater to everyone. “It’s all about good food and good atmosphere,” says Danny. “I want people to come to the beer garden and just enjoy simple hospitality.”

Hobnobbing with the stars

Last weekend, Danny got a taste of what the future holds when the beer garden was packed out for the Jubilee.

Rushed off his feet, the chef was clearly exhilarated by the experience of customers lining up to try his food. It is, however, a long way from Danny’s fine dining training, when bosses would send him down to London. The chef was on one of these trips when he found himself mingling with London’s celebrity scene, including former Neighbours star Donovan.

“It was the opening night of a Notting Hill gastropub that was collaborating with the Craigellachie Hotel,” Danny recalls. “There were loads of celebrities there, and of course me being a Buckie loon it was all very daunting.”

Elgin food truckThe beer garden at the Kirkie Bar offers room for plenty of people.

Jason gets Danny’s seal of approval – “a very nice guy,” he says. And asked if he expects any of his famous friends to make the trip up north, Danny is optimistic. “Hopefully, yeah,” Danny says with a laugh. “That would be good.”

Nae Bad Food is open every day except Monday from 12am to 8pm.

The truck is the beer garden of New Elgin’s Kirkie Bar.


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