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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Top Chef line up for Newport Food Festival

Now in its third year Newport Food Festival goes from strength to strength and the line up of chefs for Demos and Masterclasses shows this well.

Unlike Abergavenny which reflects its position on the UK stage and attracts the global chefferati, Newport is firmly based in Wales, and showcases many of our best chefs.

Brilliant Indian chef Anand George will return with his modern take on Indian food and, with the Purple Popadom being voted Wales best, yet again he will have a lot to offer. Last year he showcased his special Deep Blue menu and it is likely that this year's Summer Menu "Ocean" will provide the highlight.

Rapidly rising star Matt Dawkins returns to demonstrate the kind of food that is making the Star Inn Llansoy a destination pub. Matt and I first met some years ago when we competed in the short lived Taste The Nation competition on TV. Still a student then Matt produced our only winning dish as we lost 2-1 in the first round.

Completing his course Matt was soon snapped up by the Star, and heads a team using local and seasonal ingredients to produce the kind of food that has seen him crowned Chef of the Year.

Keeping with the local theme and strong Chefs it is a festival debut for Dale Williams and Larkin Cen, Cardiff's Masterchef finalists. Lawyer Larkin and Recruitment specialist Dale fought off the opposition to reach the final where they were just pipped at the post by Natalie Coleman. Along the way the two Cardiff boys forged a strong friendship and they will soon open a restaurant in Cardiff. Hokkei will specialise in South East Asian food, the kind of dish that served them so well on Masterchef.

Dale and Linton would be a great attraction on the outdoor cooking stage where Bob from the Waterloo Hotel wowed the crowds last year.

As usual there will be demos in the Market Hall both upstairs on the main stage and down on some of the stalls, Masterclasses in the Riverside, and some street demos as well. New for this year are interactive demos.

Using a unit within the Market Hall a number of hands on demos have been arranged where you can try your hand at new skills. Over the last couple of years Lisa Fearn (Pumkin Patch Cookery and Gardening School and chef on S4C's Prwnawn Da) has run very successful children's workshops and this year the adults get their chance.

Teaming up with local chefs and producers a programme of demos have been arranged where you can have a go, whether it is making Pasta, Kneading your own bread dough or making little snack samosas and the like. These events will be ticketed to make the numbers manageable, but tickets will be free from the Box Office.

Though not announced yet I would be surprised not to see Festival Stalwarts Hywel Jones, Stephen Terry, and James Summerin not involved somewhere, and perhaps Newport boy Matt Tebbutt.

More chefs will be added to the line up and I expect at least one major name to be confirmed next week.

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Morphy Richards

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