20,000 visitors enjoy the taste of Abergavenny Food Festival

20,000 visitors enjoy the taste of Abergavenny Food Festival

AROUND 20,000 visitors flocked to the Abergavenny Food Festival to see culinary stars take to the stage as the event celebrated its 25th anniversary last month.

The star-studded line-up saw some of the very best names in the industry- Andi Oliver, Angela Hartnett OBE, Jeremy Pang, Cyrus Todiwala OBE and Bake-off star Jurgen Krauss take to the stage during the two-day festival, which has firmly established itself on the culinary map attracting thousands of visitors to the town from around the world.

With 180 exhibitors across six venues around the town from the family-friendly Castle grounds to the Market Hall and Brewery Yard, the festival offered the very best in cookery demonstrations, producers, bakers, brewers, growers, writers, book signings, live music and tasty treats.

Lucie Parkin Festival Director and Martha Musonza-Holman Founder of Love Zimbabwe.
Lucie Parkin Festival Director and Martha Musonza-Holman Founder of Love Zimbabwe.

The weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the visitors, who were spoilt for choice with stalls offering an array of food and drink from around Wales and the world, the New and Small Producers Market, as well as cheese, wine and confectionary.

Highlights over the weekend included Emma Bridgewater, founder of the renowned British Pottery Brand, in conversation with Kate Jenkins, talks and debates in the Sant Ffraed House Dome at the castle, the irrepressible Hangfire Girls cooking up a storm over an open flame, the Cook Stars Cookery School for children and the chef demonstrations on the Robert Price Kitchens Stage in the Market Hall.

The historic Market Hall was packed to the rafters to watch a live cookery demonstration by one of the UK’s most-loved chefs, Angela Hartnett OBE and her husband Neil Borthwick, chef at The French House.

Angela, Chef-Patron at Murano, who has is no stranger to the world-famous festival, delighted fans with her home-cooked, classic roast chicken recipe ‘Neil’s Sunday Chicken’ from her latest cookbook, whilst Neil demonstrated his shortbread-making skills.

Chefs -Angela Hartnett OBE and her husband Neil Borthwick

Angela, a protégée of Gordon Ramsay, praised the festival’s co-founder and Programme Director, Martin Orbach, describing the festival as ‘unique’.

She told the audience: “I do think Abergavenny is unique in so many ways.”

“You get demos, talks and all the different tastings. What’s been wonderful for me this time is seeing it through a fresh pair of eyes, because Neil’s never been before and he’s walking around and saying ‘oh my god that was amazing, look at that’.

“He’s seeing all the local producers which has been quite incredible so that’s what makes Abergavenny so good. We are very lucky.”

The Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Jurgen Krauss, best known as ‘The German Baker’, was relishing his first visit to the festival.

Bake-off star Jurgen Krauss

The lovable self-taught baker, IT specialist and concert-level trombonist, who now lives in the UK, was seen as a top contender in the 2021 series of The Great British Bake Off before he was eliminated in the semi-finals, attracting unprecedented complaints from fans.

During Saturday’s appearance, he captivated his audience by making Pretzels, using a recipe featured in his first book The German Baking Book- Cakes, Tarts, Breads, and More from the Black Forest and Beyond’.

Speaking afterwards, Jurgen praised the organisers for the warm welcome and for putting on a fantastic event.

“It’s my first time and feels amazing to be here. Everyone has been very welcoming.”

Following their appearances, Jurgen and his fellow guest performers spent time meeting foodie fans and signing their books on the bookstall run by Emma Corfield-Walters, owner of the Abergavenny bookshop ‘Book-ish’.

Emma Corfield-Walters, owner of the Abergavenny bookshop ‘Book-ish’
Emma Corfield-Walters, owner of the Abergavenny bookshop ‘Book-ish’

Lucie, Parkin, Festival Director, said: “It was a joy to see the streets and spaces full of visitors from near and far.”

“The two days were packed with demos, talks, eating and drinking and there was a fun atmosphere, despite the rain.”

She praised the many local groups and organisations that took part in the festival, including the Rotary Club and King Henry VIII Comprehensive with the ‘Young Chef Competition Finals, the Rock Choir and local charity Love Zimbabwe’s ‘March for Africa’.

Thanking the crew behind the scenes, Lucie said: “It takes a town, a team (staff and board) and a whole lot of other partnerships to make the event happen.”

“As a not-for-profit organisation we rely on our funders and supporters to make the event possible. Special thanks to everyone who took part this year. This includes our venue and event sponsors, and all the exhibitors who contributed food for our hospitality venue, speakers’ dinner, and chef demonstrations.”

“I also want to applaud our brilliant venue and stage managers, and the amazing crew of local people who were very much the welcoming face of the festival across the weekend and busy in behind-the-scenes jobs that were vital to the whole operation.”

“We’re already looking forward to and planning for 2024.

Next year’s festival will take place on September 21 and 22.

To find out more visit www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com

Angela Hartnett’s latest offering: ‘The Weekend Cook: Good Food for Real Life’ (Bloomsbury Absolute)  is available now.

Picture Credits : Abergavenny Food Festival, Sudol Media

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