Returning for the fifth consecutive year, the award-winning Woking Food and Drink Festival is set to host another magnificent mezze of culinary delights, from Friday 1 to Sunday 3 September.
Named the county’s Best Local Food Event by readers of Surrey Life Magazine for two years in succession, the free-to-attend festival is set to dish up another three days of live cookery demonstrations served by Surrey’s top culinary talents and well-known celebrity chefs in the Tante Marie Culinary Academy Theatre, topped off by a bountiful platter of foodie treats for all the family.
Adding to the festival’s previous impressive demo chef credentials, including Michelin masters and Bake Off winners and finalists, the theatre’s stage will be headlined by another seasoned and stellar line up of international chefs.
Michelin maestro, Bruno Loubet, will bring some French flair and finesse to the table. During his glittering international career he has founded numerous high profile restaurants and picked up a selection of prestigious awards. His Grain Store restaurant in London gives vegetables an equal billing on the menu and it is driven by an ethical and sustainable approach.
A popular, first time visitor in 2016, Antonio Carluccio OBE, Chef Ambassador for The Clink Charity, will return with fellow Italian and founder of the restaurants, Al Crisci MBE, to highlight the charity’s pioneering and inspirational prisoner rehabilitation programme, which has changed the lives of thousands of former inmates.
Further gastronomic inspiration will be provided by Three Girls Cook – aka Alison O'Reilly, Giovanna Ryan and Lorna Robertson – who appeared on our screens as MasterChef 2017 finalists, impressing the judges with their skill, creativity and determination.
Adding some exotic flavours to the demos will be Chetna Makan, chef, author and Great British Bake Off 2014 semi-finalist, and Olia Hercules, Ukrainian born chef and author named The Observer’s Rising Star of 2015.
Representing the best of Surrey’s local culinary talent will be: senior instructors from Tante Marie Culinary Academy; Dougie Balish, Head Chef at The Tudor Room at Great Fosters, Egham – Surrey’s only Michelin Star restaurant; Steve Drake, Chef Patron at Sorrel, Dorking; Fernando Stovell, Head Chef at Stovell’s, Chobham; Ben Piette, Head Chef at London House, West Byfleet;Aneke Spacie, Executive Chef at Waters Edge, Woking; and Dan Britten, Head Chef at The White Horse, Hascombe.
Hungry visitors will be greeted by over 80 exhibitor stalls – stretching across the modern, pedestrianised town centre – which will be fully stocked with artisan products, freshly prepared dishes and tipples hailing from producers across the locality, the UK and the World.
To celebrate and promote the increasing stature of English wine, the festival will welcome a new wine and cheese zone to the event. Running across all three days, visitors can sample wine from Surrey and English vineyards along with opportunities to buy the carefully crafted cuvees. Weybridge based, John Mobbs, lead writer for Great British Wine, will also be on hand to host regular tasting and Q&A sessions.
Another new addition to this year’s line up will be the introduction of bite-size talks delivered by local producers, gastronomes and chefs, hosted at a range of town centre locations, including Tante Marie Culinary Academy, New Victoria Theatre, The Lightbox and WWF-UK’s The Living Planet Centre.
Visitors can learn about: Silent Pool Gin’s story; wine and food pairings hosted by local sommeliers; butchery skills and different cuts of meat from Surrey Hills Butchers; the importance of creativity and influences of Steve Drake, Head Chef of Sorrel and former Roux Scholarship winner; food writing and styling with an smartphone; and, much more!
For families and younger visitors, also on the menu will be 'I Can Cook' presenter, Katy Ashworth, who will be hosting three, short, interactive family fun shows in the New Victoria Theatre on Saturday 2 September.
Speaking about this year’s festival and line up, Cllr Mark Pengelly, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture Services, said: “The festival has gone from strength-to-strength since it was launched five years ago. It’s renowned for attracting big culinary names, thousands of visitors, a range of quality exhibitors and, best of all, for being free-to-attend! No wonder it has received the public’s vote for the Best Local Food Event in Surrey, which it has won for the last two years in row.
“To celebrate the festival’s fifth birthday and increasing popularity, we have evolved its exciting content by introducing new attractions and activities for foodies and families alike, such as the new English wine and cheese zone and series of bite-size educational talks and activities.
“In addition to the actual event, the festival connects local businesses and experts with interested schools and community groups to offer free, interactive learning activities. This year, our outreach activities have increased incorporating a kids’ cooking club, skills demonstrations, an allotment exchange programme and employment opportunities within the local catering industry.
“The key aims of this year’s festival are education and healthy choices. We want to entice visitors to learn more about what they eat and encourage them to push beyond their culinary boundaries by trying new foods and techniques, and educate all age groups on how to choose and make healthy food.”
Woking Food and Drink Festival is sponsored by Woking Shopping, Tante Marie Culinary Academyand Celebrate Woking, and supported by Woking Market Company, New Victoria Theatre, The Lightbox, WWF-UK Living Planet Centre and Phoenix Cultural Centre.
Detailed information about the festival’s activities will be announced over the summer. For the latest information, visit www.wokingfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk and follow on Facebook and Twitter@WokingFoodFest.