Having started The Late Chef in 2009 and getting involved with local markets to promote my food and catering, I found a wonderful range of great food and drink producers in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and adjoining counties. All of these producers are passionate and proud of the produce they create. I agree, the quality and excellence of the produce is amazing! I use locally produced ingredients for many of my dishes and for the events that I am asked to cater for. It is one of the values that I know makes a difference to my clients.
In 2011, after a conversation with one of my producer colleagues, I came up with the idea of starting a food festival to give the food and drink producers an outlet to show off their products. The idea was sold to local organisations, district and town councils and sponsors. The event had funding and a location. I spent time on creating a logo plus I developed the website. All was done as cost effectively as possible. The design for the logo was done by a local graphic designer and it captures everything about the festival, simply, it is all about food and drink.
From idea to event in ten weeks! The result was a festival that had 24 producers exhibiting, 6 local sponsors and a number of cooking demos and presentations on growing vegetables, making bread, beer and so on. Over 1500 visitors attended that first festival.
In 2012 the festival was bigger and we were blessed with the sunniest and hottest day of the year thus far. Around 2500 visitors enjoyed a day out at the festival. Over 40 producers showed off their products and five great chefs cooking for us including Gary Jones from Le Manior aux Q’uat Saisons. The result was fantastic, especially helped with the addition of the sponsors of the demo kitchen, VZUG. What a perfect day……
On top of all this fantastic produce, chefs, sponsors etc we had Jo Thoenes from BBC Radio Oxford hosting the chefs demos and BBC Radio Oxford Saturday morning show with Phil Gayle and Lou Hannan was broadcast from the festival!
It was suggested to me that I should enter the festival into the Tourism South Awards. I checked the website and filled in the forms. That was in June.
Last week an email arrived, informing me that the Wallingford Food Festival had been nominated as finalist in the Tourism Events category! The news left me speechless but then the more I have thought about it the better it gets. The festival has been running for two years. It has grown and it is financially self-supporting. The effort by my colleagues and volunteers has been recognised by this nomination. It acknowledges the fact that people have taken their time and effort to put on an event that people want to come to meet producers, taste good food and watch the chefs cook with the ingredients available from the producers around the festival.
It is an event that, I hope, Wallingford is proud of and will continue to support in future years. It showcases the best of the food available locally, the chefs who cook it, the chance to taste all of the different types of food produced locally. The festival also aims to work with local businesses and all bar one of the sponsors is a local company that has provided services, support or cash or a mix of all three.
The plans for 2013 Wallingford Food Festival are now well underway and when we know the final result of our nomination (28th November) we will be announcing more details about next years festival. The nomination is a spur to keep building the foundations for a great event that the people can be part of or just visit, but it also gives the festival some wider profile and should help to generate more visitors to not only the festival but also the town.
Wish us luck for the results on the 28th November!
If you would like to know more about the festival please go to the website:-
You can follow on Twitter @Wallingfoodfest
and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wallingfordfoodfestival
Please follow the festival on Twitter and or Facebook.
For details of the awards go to:- www.beautifulsouthawards.co.uk