Sneaky Treats, Mindblowing Food Science and a Taste of Sunshine – it’s the 2013 Abergavenny Food Festival!

The 2013 Abergavenny Food Festival takes place over the weekend of 21 and 22 September. Some of the most daring adventurers of the culinary world are convening on the Welsh Borders for a two-day slap-up celebration of the craft of food. Join these alchemists – the producers, performers, artisans, cooks, writers and entertainers. Start your own adventure. Try something new and nurture your own skills. It’s an immersive day out for the whole family and there’s free entry for children under 16 (if accompanied by an adult).

A stroller ticket gives access to two hundred exhibitors across five venues in the centre of town featuring fabulous produce from Wales, The Borders and further afield. The Festival team also looks forward to welcoming stall-holders from one of Europe’s great City Markets – La Boqueria in Barcelona. There’s a rolling programme of chef dems in the Market Hall on the Robert Price Kitchen Stage and an enhanced Children’s Food Academy at the Castle sponsored by Organic Centre Wales. Box Office goes live on 2 July and tickets for all events can be purchased online at or through the Borough Theatre on 01873 850805.

The Festival’s individually ticketed events programme kicks off on Thursday 19 September with the annual Fanfare Feast. Things are being jazzed up this year to evoke the glitz, glamour and sheer style of the Great Gatsby era. There are two further run-up events on the Friday evening. Rick Stein – one of Britain’s best-loved cooks – is appearing at the Borough Theatre to talk about his memoir ‘Under a Mackerel Sky’; and Pete Brown, the Bill Bryson of beer writers, has a tutored tasting – Inhale the Ale – at the Homes of Elegance showroom.

Over the actual weekend there’s an amazing variety of top talent. Magnus Nilsson, the moving spirit behind Fäviken – a twelve seater restaurant on the edge of the Arctic Circle – is one of the hottest chefs in the world right now. He’ll be flying in from Norway to join TV chef Valentine Warner and share his daring rethinking of menu, ingredients and eating experience. The Nordic element is enhanced by Signe Johansen who’s paying a return visit to Abergavenny to share the delicious secrets of Scandinavian Baking with a masterclass based on recipes from her recent hit cookery book.

‘Remembering Elizabeth David’ is a talk with a cooking demonstration centred around one of Britain’s most influential post-war writers on food and cookery on the occasion of her centenary. Tim Hayward talks to three of the people who knew Elizabeth David best: Jill Norman, her editor at Penguin from the 1960’s and literary trustee of her estate, and Abergavenny’s own Franco and Ann Taruschio (who opened the Walnut Tree in 1963) and went on to become friends and collaborators at the stove. To put words into practice, Franco will be demonstrating some of the dishes of those heady days.

The tutored tastings strand includes a darkly delicious session with Master Chocolatier Marc Demarquette who’ll be introducing his signature ganaches; and an exploration of the five senses (sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, salty) with Vietnamese Market Cookbook co-authors Van Tran and Anh Vu of Banh MI 11. Martin Morales presents ‘Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen’- one of the most exciting cuisines in the world;  Richard Ehrlich lays down his prescription for the Perfect Bloody Mary and Pete Brown and Bill Bradshaw invite you to sample Ciders of the World based on their ground-breaking world guide to cider.

Wales is well represented in the programme. Enjoy a breezy Seashore Picnic with Jonathan Williams of Café Môr with a sampling of food and plants from the West Wales Coast. Top Welsh chef Bryn Williams (owner of Odettes) makes vegetables the stars of his masterclass, and Tim McDougall at Terry M (Celtic Manor’s flagship restaurant) shows how to recreate restaurant entertaining at home. Monmouthshire-based TV presenter Kate Humble is joining Genevieve Taylor to discuss their mutual quest to bring their lives closer to nature; and James Swift of Trealy Farm Charcuterie invites you to sample the finest black puttings and blood products. Welsh TV Chef Dudley Newbery has a tasting of some of his favourite Welsh dishes (this event will be presented in Welsh). There’s also a bi-lingual outing with author Adele Nozedar and Welsh-speaking Chef Hazel Thomas who’ll be leading a walk/foray to explore the forgotten industrial landscapes and plants of the Clydach Gorge.

Whatever the weather you can enjoy ‘A Taste of Sunshine’ with MasterChef 2012 winner Shelina Permaloo. In her masterclass you’ll get to share her vegetarian dishes – a Mauritian blend of Creole, French, Indian , African, British and Chinese influences. And there are two Spanish events: Omar Allibhoy – described by Gordon Ramsay as the Antonio Banderas of cooking – is the owner of Tapas Revolution and he’s on a mission to bring proper Spanish food to the masses. He’ll show you how to cook a paella to perfection. Plus Spanish import specialists Brindisa are running a ‘Ham School’ tutored tasting showcasing the finer points of Ibérico ham. Oh, and you can explore the indulgent side of cooking too with Matt Tebbut and Valentine Warner as they divulge their Sneaky Treats and Guilty Pleasures.

There’s also a huge treat in store for children. CBBC’s Stefan Gates is scheduled to perform a spectacular live show in the Borough Theatre with edible insects, mindblowing food science and some very very big explosions. Be sure to book your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

There are many more brilliant performers in the line-up. See them all and plan your whole visit online. On arrival stroller-ticket holders are entitled to a free Festival Guide (also available to pre-order) – an eighty eight page full-colour publication.  As well as the market venues, maps and exhibitor listings, there’s lots of added interest: special interviews with guest performers, new product launches and in-depth articles on producers. Useful over the weekend, it’s also a brilliant souvenir.

Keep up to date with the latest news by signing-up for bulletins (where more guests will be featured over the coming weeks) so you can make the most of your weekend of fun and feasting on the Welsh Borders. You might even win a break for two at the luxury Celtic Manor Resort.

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