Records on the menu for food festival

Jean-Christophe Novelli cooks up a storm at this year's Wigan Food and Drink Festival
Jean-Christophe Novelli cooks up a storm at this year's Wigan Food and Drink Festival

Organisers of the Alnwick Food Festival are expecting another bumper year after seeing a record number of applications for stalls.

Up to 60 exhibitors showcasing locally-produced food and drink will fill Alnwick Market Place during the colourful two-day event, to be held on Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23.

Now in its eighth year, the Festival has grown to become one of the region’s biggest food showcases, drawing producers from across Northumberland, Newcastle, Cumbria and southern Scotland.

Festival director Karen Larkin said: “We’re aiming to accomodate a minimum 10 per cent increase in the number of stalls available at this year’s event. There have been more stall applications than ever before and we have a waiting list of producers wanting to participate at the festival.”

Exhibitors had been chosen carefully to make sure a diverse range of produce is on show, she said.

Celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli is set to return to the festival for another year after his presence in 2011 prompted a huge jump in visitor numbers.

Last year’s attendance of 30,000 was the biggest ever and organisers say the Novelli factor will draw in the crowds.

Karen said: “Last year Jean-Christophe helped raise the profile of Alnwick Food Festival to an incredible level and helped increase attendance by an additional 12,000 visitors.

“He is immensely popular and public opinion during and since the 2011 festival has clamoured for an immediate return.”

The Michelin-starred chef’s cooking demonstration last year was one of the weekend’s highlights – and he also devised a special menu using local produce for a 100-guest dinner party in the Northumberland Hall.

Mr Novelli, best known for his appearances on TV’s Hell’s Kitchen, will be attending all weekend. The full programme will be revealed soon on the Festival website, www.alnwickfoodfestival.co.uk.