A seaside community is pulling together to show the world it knows a thing or two about good food.
Residents and businesses in Tynemouth have joined forces to hold the village’s first food fair.
And the free weekend event on May 12-13 promises to be a gastronomic extravaganza with food and drink stalls aplenty, celebrity chef demos, a beer festival, school cooking competitions and a host of other exciting activities planned.
Centred round the small village green known locally as Queen Victoria Park, more than 40 producers are expected to set out their stalls at the inaugural Tynemouth Food Festival.
Epicureans are being invited to stock up on everything from award winning pies and pastries to cakes, Northumbrian meats and cheeses, ice cream, bread, chocolates, vegetables, preserves and tempting brews.
Among the producers taking part at the mouth-watering celebration of the region’s food heritage will be Moorhouse Farm Shop, the Hot Stuff Chilli Company, JR Jams, Kenspeckle Northumbrian Confectionary and the New Zealand Gourmet Pie Company.
Joining them will be the cream of the North East’s culinary talent who will be turning up the heat in Taste North East’s state-of-the-art mobile kitchen.
Festival-goers will be able to pull up a chair in the demo kitchen marquee – sponsored by The Co-operative Membership – and watch the action live on plasma television screens as a dozen well known chefs rustle up a selection of delectable locally sourced and seasonal dishes over the course of the two days.
Among the top names taking part will be Graeme Cuthell of Irvins on the Fish Quay; Adam Hegarty of Six Restaurant at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead; Mary Wilkins of the New Exchange Brasserie and Bar in North Shields and BBC Masterchef: The Professionals finalist John Calton of the Harbour Lights in South Shields.
Former North East Chef of the Year and restaurateur David Kennedy will also be wowing the crowds with his kitchen prowess. He currently runs the acclaimed David Kennedy’s Food Social at the chic Biscuit Factory commercial art gallery in Newcastle as well as the newly opened David Kennedy’s River Café on North Shield’s Fish Quay.
The fast-paced chefs’ demos and artisan stalls are just two of the tantalisingly tasty food and drink events that will be taking place across the village, which stands at the mouth of the River Tyne and boasts a picturesque ruined medieval priory and castle as well as some of the area’s best beaches.
Visitors will be able to whet their whistle at a real ale event organised by the Cumberland Arms on Tynemouth Front Street between May 10-17. At least 50 different regional and award-winning beers – many of them never before seen in the North East – will join popular local names such as Mordue and the Allendale Brewery at the week-long celebration of the ‘noble hop.’
Beer and food matching sessions are planned for The Priory Pub, also on Front Street, while the Deli Around the Corner, which specialises in local produce, will be putting on wine and cheese tastings.
Meanwhile, Priory Café on Percy Park Road will be celebrating home baking with a large range of cup-cakes, French patisseries and biscuits on the menu over the weekend with recipes available for customers to take away.
Gareth James Chocolatier is hoping to set people’s taste buds salivating with a mass chocolate sampling session. It will be a chance to explore all the delicious flavours of one of the world’s favourite foods as well as discover more about why chocolate makes us feel so happy.
Gareth Mellor, who runs the business, will also be appearing on the demo kitchen over the course of the weekend, along with artisan break maker Ann Cudworth of North Shields-based Dough Works, who also runs hands-on baking workshops.
Local schoolchildren are being invited to get involved in a cake decorating competition with winning entries being displayed in shop windows throughout the village for the duration of the festival.
And the Grand Hotel on Tynemouth seafront is organising a Junior MasterChef-style contest aimed at local secondary school pupils with the winner having the chance to recreate their dish alongside one of the celebrity chefs on the demo kitchen.
The contest will have a fishy theme in keeping with Tynemouth’s seaside location, with the victorious dish also appearing on the Grand Hotel’s dining menu on May 12-13.
The food festival has been organised by the Tynemouth Business Forum and is sponsored by the Co-operative Membership and village businesses Priory Art and Fezziwigs, with help from North Tyneside Council and the King’s School.
It is expected to attract thousands of extra visitors drawn in by the tasty culinary treats on offer and the live chef demos.
Sally Craigen, chair of the organising committee who runs the Martineau Guest House in Tynemouth, said: “Tynemouth Food Festival aims to show just how much the North has become a fantastic food and drink hotspot. The area has such a lot to offer and there is such diversity.
“We want to play our part in helping introduce people to the abundance of great food and drink that is grown, produced and served right here in the region and help dispel the myth that the North has nothing to offer in the way of culinary excellence.
“Nothing could be further from the truth.
“The food festival will be a one-stop shop for local produce and it will showcase just how diverse the food and drink offer is across the region. Our message to everyone is come along, enjoy the occasion and being in Tynemouth, and most of all enjoy the food.”
Sally added: “It is fantastic that the village has embraced this event so wholeheartedly and that businesses, schools and residents have come on board to support not just the food festival but local producers too.
“Food is essential to everyone’s existence, not just for our survival but in the way it brings individuals, families and communities together.
“Tynemouth is full of wonderful restaurants and cafes run by very talented local people. This food festival is our way of bringing the community of Tynemouth together while at the same time welcoming visitors to join in the fun.”
- Tynemouth Food Festival is free to attend and will take place on May 12-13 between 9am-4pm at locations across the village. For more information and to keep up-to-date with all the latest news go to www.tynemouthfoodfestival.co.uk.