It’s party time and I’m praying for sunshine this weekend because I’ll be headlining the Wenlock Spring Chef Demonstration stage at Shrewsbury Food Festival.
At 3pm this afternoon, I’ll take to the stage for one hour of organised mayhem. I’ll be back again tomorrow for more, with a slot that starts at 3.45pm and runs for an hour. I can’t wait. I’ll do my best to inspire and educate the audience and of course try and have lots of fun along the way.
Demonstrating cookery is great fun for chefs. Chefs spend most of their lives in hot, steamy kitchens surrounded by stainless steel, white tiles, other chefs and fluorescent lighting so food festivals and the like give us the chance to spread our wings and get out there. Normally, guests are on one side of the kitchen door and we’re on the other. But at festivals, anything goes. We can mingle with the audience before and after our demonstrations and people can have a chat with us about what they like. Hopefully all questions are food related.
It’s not just the atmosphere I enjoy. Food festivals also give me the chance to meet new food and drink producers. I can improve my product knowledge and meet the people who work tirelessly to produce, rear and grow all the amazing produce and products that are available for me to use. I’m passionate about provenance so it’s great to hear stories of exactly where produce has come from, especially when the stories being told are by the people who know better than anyone – the producers themselves. It can be a very inspiring experience just to wander through a food festival.
I’m a regular at the Ludlow Food Festival and during the past five or six years I’ve curated one of the chef demonstration stages. Each year I invite a bunch of my chef mates, many of them at the top of their game and we have a good laugh and entertain the crowds. They are always incredibly popular. Food festivals are important to our county. They give people the chance to enjoy great food in an informal, fun environment. I think it’s a bargain to attend– I think the Shrewsbury Food Festival is only charging a fiver for
adults, a tenner for families and a quid for kids – so it’s within everyone’s reach. Ten pounds for a family day out? – you can’t beat it. Hopefully the sun will be shining and I’ll see you there . . .