Last year the Abergavenny Food Festival won the accolade ‘Best Event in Wales’ (National Tourism Awards 2013), so the bar has been set high for 2014. This year’s programme won’t disappoint. The Festival takes place over the weekend of 20 and 21 September and box office is now live at abergavennyfoodfestival.com.
Over fifty of the brightest lights of the culinary world have Abergavenny as a firm date in their diaries. Join the masters, get inspired and take your culinary skills to another level. Buy tickets online or from the Borough Theatre on 01873 850805.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of the UK’s best-loved cooks, is first off the block on the Friday night (19 September). He’ll be discussing his new book ‘River Cottage Light and Easy – healthy recipes for every day’ with journalist Joanna Blythman.
The Festival prides itself on great hospitality and a laid-back convivial atmosphere. Award-winning chef Cyrus Todiwala says, “The Abergavenny bug has smitten us hard. We just love to be there and make many new friends.” Cyrus will be taking the stage with Tony Singh, his co-presenter on ‘The Incredible Spice Men’ (BBC2). Their mission is to wake up Britain to the power of spices. Expect a high-octane demonstration as they conjure up dishes from their book and TV series.
Thomasina Miers also knows a thing or two about spices. She fell for the food of Mexico and cooked with some of the country’s top chefs before winning MasterChef in 2005 and opening the Mexican street-food chain ‘Wahaca’. She’ll be cooking from her latest book ‘Chilli Notes – recipes to warm the heart.’
The special events programme represents a real melting-pot of diverse food cultures, each taken to new heights by amazingly talented people. The line-up also includes Claudia Roden, the legendary doyenne of cookery writing, who’ll be returning to Abergavenny for a rare cooking demonstration on the food of Italy; Iranian-born rising culinary star Sabrina Ghayour – one of the strongest voices in Middle Eastern food today; and Sam and Sam Clark, the inspirational duo behind ‘Moro’ restaurant and little sister ‘Morito’ with a focus on Spanish and Moorish cuisine.
And what of the UK? Well, Marcus Verberne, Head Chef at ‘Roast’ – a restaurant located in the foodie mecca of Borough Market – celebrates both heritage and innovation with his seasonal British cooking. He’ll be showcasing the glories of British cuisine; and River Cottage’s Steven Lamb will demonstrate how to smoke and air-dry your own produce. Closer to home, Wales-based Illtud Llyr Dunsford – who raises Mangalitsa pigs with an Austro-Hungarian pedigree for his artisan company Charcutier Ltd – will be hosting a charcuterie tasting with restaurant owner and blogger Eliza Flanagan.
While the guests are performing live, the Festival’s five main venues will also be in full swing. “A buzzing place for tantalizing smells, exotic foods and smiling faces all over. Pure joy.” So says master chocolatier Marc Demarquette who’s looking forward to sharing a tasting of his sweet and savoury ganaches.
The Artisan Kitchen School is a brand new initiative for 2014. Sign up to hour-long classes in artisan food and drink production throughout the Festival weekend. Don an apron, learn a new craft and create an artisan product to take home. You can, for instance, make bacon with James Swift from Trealy Farm, discover the world of home-made seasonal fruit liqueurs with Lindy Wildsmith, finesse the art of pasta-making with Abergavenny’s own Franco Taruschio, and join Marie Cheong Thong to brew your own sake.
The Festival markets have over two hundred top-notch exhibitors across five locations as well as a children’s food academy sponsored by Organic Centre Wales, chef dems and other entertainment; and there’s a brand new Night Market on the Saturday too. A brilliant collection of street food traders will be open in Lower Brewery Yard, transformed into a magical place to eat, drink, shop and hang out, complete with pop-up restaurant and tastings from top cheese experts at La Cave à Fromage; plus live music too. Free to stroller ticket holders or £2.00 on the spot.
Special events start at £8.00 a ticket. Stroller tickets for the main markets start at £6.50 (early-bird prices) and children accompanied by a paying adult get in for free (strollers only). You can also pick up a complimentary 80-page guide on the day which contains everything you need to make the most of your Festival visit.
The Festival is supported by the Welsh Government, Visit Wales, Monmouthshire County Council and Abergavenny Town Council, with additional valuable ongoing support from local businesses and individuals.
Chief Executive Heather Myers says, “Everyone who contributes to the Festival also plays a vital role in promoting the best of Wales alongside other food cultures. Wales has loads to offer and the Abergavenny Food Festival is a great place to start. Monmouthshire in particular has an exellent year-round food offering which is why it’s now known as ‘The Food Capital of Wales’. Come along and experience it for yourself”.