An important part of Food Festivals is Chef Demonstrations and Masterclasses.
At some the demos are held in huge halls where viewing on small screens is as near as you get to the chefs and Masterclasses are really demos as 100 or so people crowd into them.
Newport Food Festival is different.
The demos will be held in a number of venues, the Market Hall, Riverside Theatre and on the streets as well. Not only that but some will take place on Market Stallholders stalls! This really brings the festival to the people and it is the sense of community which runs through the festival that I like.
17 demos are planned starting with Matt Dawkins from the Star Inn Llansoy at 10 in the Market Hall. Matt is a highly talented young chef who will go far, and started his rise to fame when he represented Monmouthshire in Taste the Nation on ITV.
Matt will be followed there by Kate Jenkins of award winning Gower Cottage Brownies at 11 Norman Musa of acclaimed restaurant Ning in Manchester at 12. Just before lunch Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods takes to the stage at 1. Liz lives just over the border in Herefordshire and converts the natural bounty of the countryside into brilliant product. Is she good? Well, Liz has just been selected by Fortnum and Mason to provide foraged product so that speaks for itself.
After lunch, at 2; 30, award winning Bryn Williams of Odette’s restaurant and S4C fame leads off before Giacomo Cucinella of great Italian restaurant Vitellos in Newport delivers the last demo in the Market Hall.
In the Riverfront Adam whittle of Good Food guide listed The White Hart Llangibby leads off at 10:30 before Michelin starred Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park (and judge of Teen Chef) takes over at 1130. Hywel will get only a short break after his demo as the final of Teen Chef takes place in the same room at 1.
Having been to the semi-finals I can assure you that three highly talented teams will battle out for glory and all three finalists will gain Kitchen Experience as prizes, well worth a visit.
The afternoon in the Riverside sees James Summerin of the Crown at Whitebrook showing why he holds a Michelin star at 2:15 before Anand George of the Purple Poppadom rounds off the day with award winning curries.
Meanwhile, on the streets, Luke Cueto of the Bell Inn Caerleon starts the demos at 11 with some great gastropub food. At 12 Deri Reed “The Ethical Chef” will demonstrate some brilliant vegetarian recipes having trained under probably the best vegetarian chef in the world Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso in Cork, (to see more about Deri read the earlier blog “The ethical Chef”.
In a complete turnaround the terrific Jerk flavours of Antonio Smith from Newport’s very own Backyard Company take on at 1. I saw a demo at a food festival in Brighton earlier in the year and can assure you that they are fun as well as serving up tasty food.
Faisal Rahman and B Ahmad from Poppadoms will be working their spicy magic at 2 before Phil Roberts of the Waterloo demonstrates some of Newport’s finest food.
As if that was not an amazing line up of demos, Matt Dawkins will also be cooking on Elstons Butchers stall in the Market at 11:30 and Hazel Thomas will be at Needhams Fishmongers.
Best of all the demos are all free though you should ring the box office on 01633 656757 to ensure a ticket for the Riverside events.
Encouraging people to cook and to use local and seasonal ingredients is one of the aims of the festival, and nothing could be more important than encouraging children to cook and understand that things do not have to come out of packets, bottles or the microwave.
To encourage youngsters to cook Lisa Fearn of the Pumpkinpatch Cookery and Gardening school will be returning for two more of her workshops in the foyer of the Riverfront. Last year was a huge success and Lisa will have some great but do-able recipes for the children to cook, If you have kids, or know someone who does, and you want to give them a good start to life – get them into one of the workshops which are on at 11 and 2.
Finally there are a number of Masterclasses. Unlike some festivals where they are paid for demos Newport Food Festival wants you to get up close and personal with the chefs, to see and understand what is happening and to get a lot out of the sessions.
The Masterclasses will all take place in the Riverfront and are priced at just £5, cheaper than many festivals, and include a complimentary drink and tasting.
Tim McDougall the chef at Terry M in the Celtic Manor is first to give a Masterclass at 11am in the Riverfront. “Wales at its Best” is the theme so expect really good ingredients and some top tips on getting the best out of them.
Next up at 12:30 is Anand George from the award winning Purple Poppadom in Cardiff. Anand has won huge praise for his modern Indian cuisine and has just launched his Autumn menu. If you want to make beautifully spiced and balanced dishes this is the place to be.
Brilliant Malaysian chef Norman Musa takes to the stage at 2pm and will bring a little of his cookery school to Newport. Author of a best-selling cookery book Norman has also recently set the challenge for one of the cooks in Wales on the Menu (Radio Wales) see how they did on BBC player,
Finally giving a Masterclass at 3pm is Michelin starred Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park. Though he runs a busy brigade of over 30 Hywel gives up a lot of time to support the Food Festival and in particular the Teen Chef competition where he both judges and mentors. Hywel offers the winners of that competition kitchen time at Lucknam Park, This is your chance to learn from a local lad at the top of his profession.
There is a lot to see, do and learn at this year’s Newport Food Festival so plan your day, ring for tickets to the Riverfront events 01633 656757, and don’t forget there are 74 brilliant producers and all the usual Market stalls to get to as well.
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