Food festival serves up treat or two

Just Regional
Sep 10, 2015 4 mins read

The Aylsham Food Festival has grown from small, hopeful beginnings to a four, arguably five, day event.

It serves up a diverse range of foodie delights to a wide range of people.

But perhaps most importantly to current Slow Food Aylsham chairman Roger Willis, it is the level of engagement with young people which is most pleasing.

“It gives me great pride that we involve so many children.

“The various festival events aimed at youngsters, whether primary school age, high school age or in family groups, introduce them to good food and the enjoyment of food.

“Food is not just a fuel, although these days it is often treated as such. Instead it is something that should be enjoyed and savoured.

“Schools don’t always have the opportunity to introduce food into the curriculum, so the festival provides an excellent taster.”

The events which include young people directly are two days of Kids Cooking Workshops in the parish church, the Aylsham High School gala dinner which is prepared, cooked and served by more than 100 students and weekend family cooking workshops, again in the church.

Alongside these events are cooking demonstrations from high profile Norfolk chefs aimed at all ages, and much more – see the Food Festival Diary alongside for more details and times.

Roger will step down as chairman at the Slow Food Aylsham annual meeting in January.

“It’s time to hand over to someone with new ideas, and I am 70 now so although I’m looking forward to staying involved, it won’t be as chairman.

“I think the festival is in excellent health and the future is very rosy. Aylsham should be very proud of the events it puts on throughout the year.”

So is there any part of the festival Roger is particularly keen for the public to enjoy?

“All of it, of course! But it would be nice to see more people come along to the events on Showcase Saturday. We get a very good footfall as it is, but if you want to see some of the county’s best chefs in action, using a professional demonstration kitchen, it’s definitely the place to be.”

– This year’s gala dinner will pay tribute to the late Liz Jones, a key figure in the creation of the food festival. £2 from each ticket sold will be donated to the Liz Jones Memorial Trust, as will the proceeds from the raffle.

– The festival, which raises its own finances through grants, sponsorship and ticket sales, has two principal sponsors this year in Broadland District Council and Norfolk Food and Drink. It is also supported by Woodfordes, Spire Solicitors and a range of local businesses.

The main festival is held from Thursday October 1 to Sunday October 4.
Before this there is a snail trail competition around town. Hunt for the snails in shop windows between September 25 and October 2. Entry forms from Barnwells Newsagent, Digby’s Bon Bon and the library.

Wednesday, September 30:
Adrian Simpson will give a 10.30am talk called Caley’s – The Story of Norwich’s Fine Chocolate. In the library, admission £3 including refreshments.
Free drop in Senior Citizens’ lunch in the church.
Thursday, October 1:
Kids’ cooking workshops in the church. Children from the Aylsham Cluster have been invited to one-our workshops throughout the day.
Friday, October 2:
Kids’ cooking workshops all day.
8.30am to noon. Aylsham Country Market in the Town Hall.
Evening: High school five-course gala dinner for 120 guests.
Saturday, October 3:
Showcase Saturday :
8am to 2pm: FARMA-accredited farmers’ market. Drop in free family cooking workshops in the church.
Cookery demonstrations in the Town Hall, free entry. Compered by festival patron Steve Thorpe and featuring top Norfolk chefs and food professionals Derrol Waller, Mark Sayers, Daniel Smith, Vanessa Scott, Mary Kemp and Charlie Hodson.
Demonstrations of apple pressing, sugar craft and chocolate making in the market place all morning.
Entertainment from Gordon Blur, the juggling chef; Sheila Ann Taylor face painting; music from One Foot in the Groove.
7pm: Wine tasting at Aylsham Heritage Centre, commentary from wine merchants Harper Wells. Tickets £14 from the Heritage Centre.
Sunday, October 4:
10am to noon: The Big Slow Breakfast. Tickets £7 from Barnwells Newsagents.
Thursday to Sunday:
Purdy’s Tea Room at Woodgate Nursery presents a special Food Festival menu.

The Big Slow Breakfast

The Big Slow Breakfast

The Gala Dinner

The Gala Dinner

Kids Cooking Workshops

Kids Cooking Workshops

Aylsham Food

Matt Barnard - Gordon Blur Aghast

More of what's happening in Aylsham