Food festival fever helps build local produce brands

Nick Spurr, from Spurreli's Ice Cream, with Jean-Christophe Novelli at last year's Alnwick Food Festival.
Nick Spurr, from Spurreli's Ice Cream, with Jean-Christophe Novelli at last year's Alnwick Food Festival.
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Allthough more than 30,000 enjoyed the delights of last year’s Alnwick Food Festival, the real winners were the local food producers, according to organisers.

Last year’s Alnwick Food Festival proved a big hit with first-time exhibitors, including Spurreli Ice Cream from the Old Boat Yard, Amble.

Owners Nick and Kate Spurr this August celebrate their second year in business as artisan ice cream producers and are set to return to the event after a highly successful debut in 2011.

The couple vowed to return immediately for the 2012 festival and were delighted when Jean-Christophe Novelli incorporated Spurreli’s award-winning Sicilian pistachio ice cream into dishes during his chef demonstrations.

“We’d been open for business for less than a year and decided to book a stall and attend the food festival. It’s very important local firms support an event on the doorstep and we wanted to be part of proceedings,” said Nick.

“The event helped showcase our products to thousands of people and lifted Spurreli’s profile both on a local and regional-basis. The atmosphere was fantastic and as a new exhibitor, we were made extremely welcome.

“The Indian-summer temperatures soared over that weekend to 26c and we had to replenish ice cream stocks constantly as we kept selling-out.

“Jean-Christophe tasted our ice cream on one of his famous walkabouts and kept sending out for different varieties while creating dishes during his chef demos. It’s not every day a world famous Michelin star chef endorses your products in such an open and positive way,” he said.

Thistly Cross Cider’s Jim Anderson is also returning for a second year with a full-range of crafted ciders. The company, based on the Borders , is Scotland’s only cider manufacturer.

Jean-Christophe used Thistly Cross in his exclusive Novelli Evening signature dish, belly-pork and cider, which has helped open doors to local chefs, hotels and restaurants according to Jim.

“Alnwick Food Festival has helped profile the Thistly Cross brand across the region and we’re delighted to return to the 2012 event. We regularly attend Alnwick Farmers Market and our products are now stocked by several hotels and restaurants in Alnwick and the surrounding area. We’re also sponsoring a drinks reception at the Novelli evening buffet and guests will be able to sample our ciders,” he said.

More festival news in Northumberland Now

A whole host of regular attendees are returning for the 2012 festival including Proof of The Pudding, Jimmy “the lamb man” Bell, Turnbull’s Butchers, Doddington Dairies, Northumberland Cheese Company, The Mad Jam Woman, Trees Can’t Dance, Chain Bridge Honey Farm and many other local favourites. For further details log on to