Tag Archives: Festival

Food Festival At the Races at the final furlong for a family, foodie weekend for all.

Stratford Food Festival returns for its eighth year at the end of this month in it’s new format following a successful first year at Stratford Racecourse. Organisers Showplace and the racecourse have teamed up to present ‘Stratford Food Festival at the Races’ and as the event draws closer it is shaping up to be an action packed weekend for all the family.

Visitors will enjoy the best of both the foodie and the racing world with over 70 confirmed exhibitors showcasing an array of food and drink alongside evening race meets on the Friday and Saturday evening. On Sunday the event is FREE for the whole family to enjoy and £5 parking all day.


Historically the event has been set in September but both organisers felt the event could prove even more popular if brought forwards. Steph Reed, Events Manager at Showplace Events says, ‘The event is essentially a condensed version of previous years with the added bonus of having a race meet on the Friday and Saturday evening. We are also really looking forward to bringing back the Friday evening element of the festival which hasn’t happened since 2010’.

Highlights include local exhibitor The Lazy Cow steak and ale house, who will be hosting resident live bands and doing live butchery demonstrations from their stand whilst they serve burgers, steak sandwiches and cocktails.

Tlc Logo (4)

On Sunday, kids will be able to take part in FREE cookery workshops hosted by Kidz Kitchen as well as inflatables, facepainting and balloon modelling around the site. The Racecourse is also hosting the Race for Life charity event on Sunday 1st June.


Steph adds, ‘We have worked really hard to ensure the racecourse is more accessible than ever this year and are delighted to announce long term travel partners Johnsons are running shuttle services linking the event to town and Stratford Train Station’.

Horseracing will commence from 6pm on both Friday and Saturday evening.

Times of the Food Festival Fri-4-9pm, Sat-1-9pm, Sun 10-4pm.

For more information about the event visit www.stratfordfoodfestival.co.uk or follow us on Facebook- /stratfordfoodfestival or Twitter- @foodfest2014.

For all media enquiries please contact Steph Reed on 01789 262701 or email info@stratfordfoodfestival.co.uk

Even More on Offer at the Racecourse Over the Food Festival Weekend

The Stratford Racecourse will feature two great events on Sunday 1st June, Stratford Food Festival as well as the Cancer Research 5km Race for Life. Both events with share the venue and compliment each other well. Join in and support a well deserved cause and then refuel with a tasty treat at the food festival. Bring the whole family along, activities for children will be available to keep them amused while the adults have a wonder through the bustling artisan food and drink markets. This last weekend in May will be loaded to the brim with things to do. Make sure you don’t miss out stick the dates in your diary Friday 30th May – Sunday 1st June at Stratford Racecourse.


Tickets for Stratford Food Festival at The Races (Friday 30th and Saturday 31st May) are available online now! Advance tickets will include parking, all those paying admission on the day and wanting to park a vehicle will be charged additional for this.

Click here to find out more on how to enter the race for life event.

43 days to go….find out the latest updates

With the event developing week on week, its all go for the newly formed Stratford Food Festival at The Races this year. 2 events in 1, you can get the best of both worlds and if you don’t fancy the races then not a problem, Sunday will feature the food festival only and is free admission to all.


Updates this week:

– AGA, sponsor to the races for the weekend will be bringing along their trailer unit to allow visitors to get close up with the AGA range and what they have to offer.

– Competition giveaways have began and will continue, make sure you follow us on facebook and twitter to see how to enter. Prizes include event tickets as well as other foodie items.

– Exhibitor numbers are still growing with around 75 currently booked in, great variety so far. You will be spoilt for choice over the event weekend. Have a look at the current exhibitor listing.

– We now have the timetables available for the Johnsons Shuttle Service. The shuttle will link Strtaford Train Stration, Stratford Town Centre (Rother Street) and Stratford Racecourse. £1.50 return charge with 50p from every ticket being donated to charity.

The Lazy Cow of Stratford have announced their resident band will be performing over the festival weekend, to add to the atmosphere. They will be offering their delicious burgers and steaks alongside a cocktail bar for the event.

– Tickets are now available to buy online! Advance tickets will include free onsite parking.

– Children’s activities have been booked, you can expect to see anything from inflatable fun activities and face painting to magic and balloon modelers.

Stay tuned for more updates to follow. We hope you enjoy your Easter weekend!


Who can you expect to see at the Food Festival this year?

Here is the second edition of ‘Who’s joining us this year?’ Get to know some of the background to the exhibitors joining us this year at the event. You might spot some familiar faces or be intrigued by their product range, you can then make sure you look out for them when you come to visit.

Bordeaux Undiscovered

Bordeaux Undiscovered Logo small

Find Bordeaux Undiscovered close to the track on the food festival site opposite the real ale and cider tent. Offering a selection of great french wines, sparkling wines and champagne for you to drink there and then. Match these up with some great hot food on offer, you will be set for an exciting evening of horse racing!  


Blueberry Hill Patisserie

Blueberryhill_Patisserie small

Blueberry Hill Patisserie return for another year after their success at last years Stratford Food Festival. This local company, based in Leamington Spa will be offering; sponge cakes, traybakes, macaroons and additional savoury options to name a few. They aim to supply their customers with the highest quality products made using the finest ingredients. Come and see what they offer in the Artisan Markets area.


Cotswold Farmer

Cotswold_Farmer small

Previously known as Simple Suppers, The Cotswold Farmer who are based in Moreton in Marsh will be attending the event this year within the Artisan Markets. You may have seen their products in local shops around Stratford, I know I have had a few of their pasties for my lunch on the odd occasion. Find products such as  Sausages, Pork Pies, Sausage Rolls, Pasties, Pate and more at their stand.


Gwatkin Cider Co


Gwatkin Cider are a small, family run business, based in Herefordshire. There home, a working farm is where it all happens. As well as keeping their own livestock they also own an apple and pear orchard that supplies all the fruit needed to make their cider and perry. When they are not at the farm, they spend their time touring the country showing and selling their products at Fairs and events such as the Stratford Food Festival. Come and purchase some of the Cider or Perry to take home with you from the Artisan Markets.




Narna’s, previous exhibitors for the last few years to the Strtaford Food Festival, is the inspiration of an 18 year old girl who left school at 17 to pursue her absolute dream of bringing the best, finest and most exquisite Chocolates to the confectionery market. Alana started making chocolates at the age of 13 slowly teaching herself the art of high class chocolatier work, after her first year of sixth form it was apparent she couldn’t wait any longer to get out of the class room and into the kitchen. Alana is forever thinking of new flavours and new chocolate ideas to delight her customers. Come and meet her and try some of her range for yourself within the Artisan Markets over the event weekend. 


Posh Pots


Not only do we have fantastic artisan food and drink producers at the event this year we also have a wider variety of products on offer from our exhibitors. My Posh Pots being one of these with their Mediterranean range of terracotta tableware, cookware and kitchenware as well as various Spanish ceramics. The company that are based in Nottingham also do the circuits of events around the UK and we are happy to be welcoming them to Stratford this May.


Stainswick Farm Oil


With their second year at the Stratford Food Festival this year, we are pleased to be having Stainswick Farm and their rape seed oil back with us for another. The Sanderson family is the 4th generation of farmers at Stainswick Farm located on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire border. They are passionate about providing their customers with a local, healthy, natural and fully traceable product – the red tractor logo means that we can tell you which field the rapeseed oil in your bottle was grown in!

The rapeseed is grown, pressed and bottled on the farm minimising food miles and maximising quality and taste. The farm uses modern precision farming techniques to ensure that inputs of fertiliser & seed are only used where needed. This fabulous product is well worth looking out for at the event, you will find their stand in the Artisan Markets.



Tregunter Logo

 Tregunter, also a previous exhibitor to the Stratford Food Festival, is a small business based in Coventry owned by Sarah Gunter, making a range of preserves from home, including jams, jellies, fruit butters and cheeses, chutneys and curds. Whenever possible, the preserves include produce that is grown or picked by Sarah or her family and friends. 

As Sarah has a total cow’s milk intolerance, all the preserves are suitable for people with a lactose or cow’s milk intolerance and a wheat intolerance. Many of the chutneys are made using wine or cider vinegars which also makes them gluten free, whilst the rest use various forms of malt vinegar which contains very small quantities of barley gluten. They are also free from artificial preservatives, colourings and additives. Each preserve comes in a range of sizes. The Tregunter stand will be located in the Artisan Food Markets during the festival weekend.


Stay tuned for your next installment of insights into which exhibitors are joining us at the event this May. Get to know the exhibitors and their company background before seeing them at the event.  

Tickets are now available online for the Friday or Saturday Click Here. These tickets include the racing and food festival. Remember Under 18′s go Free all weekend and advantage tickets brought include Free parking on the infield of the site, closer to the action.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

We are also on Instagram and Pinterest.

Who’s Joining Us This Year??

It’s no April fouls, the Food Festival is returning this year and we have moved to May! The Event as you may already know has had a make-over and has been bolted onto a weekend of horse racing at our venue Stratford Racecourse. What could be better, 2 events for the price of 1.

The Event will focus in on the real artisan food and drink producers and we have had a great response from our traders with over 60% returning from last year and a great selection of local businesses.

We want you to be able to get to know those companies who will be joining us before you come and attend the event, so a weekly blog will feature a selection of our exhibitors. Have a look at the first batch below;

Granny Tiggs:

Granny Tiggs small

Their unique product, like nothing else on the market is a special ‘bright orange’ dressing, which is suitable for all types of food – from salads to oysters, sandwiches to steaks and is produced using all natural ingredients. This company and product has a great story behind it with the sellers grandmother being the creator of the winning recipe. Why not come and try some for yourself at their stand, located in the Artisan Markets for the weekend.

Blackmans Bakery:

Blackmans_Bakery small

Local Bakery, Blackmans Bakery (formally known as Grants Bakeries) are again joining us this year after exhibiting at the event for the past few years. Last year they received the ‘Pride of Stratford Small Business of the Year 2013’, they are an artisan bakery and patisserie in the heart of Stratford upon Avon. They offer a wide range of traditional and specialty breads, pastries, patisserie and cakes, all baked daily on the premises. Supplying to a wide range of Restaurants, Cafes, Delis and Shops across Warwickshire. Find their stand in the Artisan Markets onsite at the Food Festival this year.


Church Farm Brewery:


This year at the festival we have a dedicated tent for local real ale and cider producers. Church Farm Brewery are located on the outskirts of Warwick and offer craft ales full of flavour and passion. In November 2012 they sold their herd of dairy cattle and converted the milking equipment into a microbrewery. They brew by hand, the traditional way using water from the farm’s well, locally sourced malt and hops and just add time and dedication to create a cracking pint. Come and try their products alongside other local brewers in the tent during the festival weekend.


The Strawberry Stop:

The strawberry stop logo small

A returning exhibitor to the Stratford Food Festival this year, they will be located in our Street Food Alley along with a wide variety of food and drink offerings to tuck into there and then. The Strawberry Stop join us from Herefordshire and use freshly grown Strawberries from their farm. They will be offering these with a variety of different flavoured creams and gourmet toppings all sourced locally.

Queens Park Preserves:

Queen Park Preserves

Queens Park Preserves have been with the festival for a couple of years now and we are happy to have them return again this year. Based in Hickley there handmade jams and chutneys are cooked using traditional open pans. They are free of artificial additives and colouring, are suitable for vegetarians and are gluten free. And …they taste delicious! They will be located in our artisan markets so come and have a look at what they offer.

Find them on Facebook.

The Lazy Cow:

Tlc Logo (4)

Local restaurant and bar The Lazy Cow, who opened their steak & ale house and cocktail bar in Stratford centre last year on the banks of the river, are joining us at the event in May. They will be offering dexter beef burgers, steak sandwiches and a range of cocktails as well as creating a bit of a buzz with their resident live band seen at the 2012 Stratford Food Festival.


My Cottage Kitchen:

My_Cottage_Kitchen small

My Cottage Kitchen was established in 2010, based in Shrewsbury and is the result of Ursula’s passion for home baking. She offers award winning AGA baked fruitcakes. All cakes are baked by herself in her own kitchen and made using the traditional methods. Come and meet the women herself at the food festival and take one of these home with you, her stand can be located in the Artisan Markets over the weekend.


Stay tuned for your next installment of exhibitors coming next week, giving you further insight into more of those joining us this year. Tickets are now available online for the Friday or Saturday Click Here. These tickets include the racing and food festival. Remember Under 18’s go Free all weekend and advantage tickets brought include Free parking on the infield of the site, closer to the action.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

We are also on Instagram and Pinterest.


Stratford Food Festival at The Races 2014! All New, Redesigned Event – Launching this May!

Stratford Food Festival returns for its eighth year this summer, in a whole new, revised format, after a successful year at its new venue in 2013. Showplace, event organisers, and Stratford Racecourse have come together in creating a redesigned event, which will launch this May, ‘Stratford Food Festival at the Races!’

A scaled down, compact and focused food event will take place on the back of an existing double race meeting weekend in the racecourses annual calendar. Taking advantage of the Food Festivals following, built up over the years and the racecourses expanding audience, these two events bolted together will bring a whole new mix of demographics to both parties.

The event takes place on Friday 30th, Saturday 31st May and Sunday 1st June. Friday and Saturday of the weekend will feature evening horse races, between 6pm-9pm, and will be included in the ticket admission (Under 18’s go FREE). Tickets are On Sale Now, pre-booked online through the Racecourse website, all advance tickets for the food festival will include free parking, visitors can also pay on the day. Sunday there will be no racing but the food festival will take place and is FREE admission to all.


This three day tasty twist on the traditional races will give both our foodie audience the chance to experience an evening of horse racing as well as regular race goers the opportunity to experience the usual aromas and hustle and bustle provided by some of the country’s best artisan food and drink producers. From cheeses and preserves to real ales, not forgetting the street food avenue set to tantalise the taste buds, there really will be something for everyone. Click here to take a look at who will be join us at the exhibitor list. 

Yet again we have great local support from previous exhibitors who are joining us again this year including The Lazy Cow, Havilands, Blackmans Bakery, Clever Sweets, Church Farm Brewery, North Cotswold Brewery, Ettington Park Hotel, Blueberry Hill Patisserie, Fine Chocolate Spa to name a few.

Visitors can wonder through the bustling stalls before, during and after the horse racing takes place (Friday & Saturday). Traders will have the opportunity to entice a footfall, seen in 2013, of approx 14,000 foodie enthusiasts over the weekend plus the additional 8,000 regular race goers.

Johnsons have come onboard with us again this year as our Official Travel Provider to offer a shuttle service which will link up Stratford Train Station – Stratford Town Centre – Stratford Racecourse during opening hours of the event, so if you don’t drive or would rather leave your car at home then take advantage of this service. Further details will be available at the Food Festival website including timetables and bus route.


There will be plenty on offer over this weekend to whet everyone’s appetite – don’t miss out, stick the dates in your diary!

Keep up to date with what’s on at www.stratfordfoodfestival.co.uk. Or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Coventry based I Love Crêpes to tantalise taste buds at Stratford Food Festival

Coventry based, ‘I Love Crêpes , a family run business created by Martyn and Amanda Ladkin two years ago is another mouth-watering reason to visit one of the region’s fastest growing food events, the Stratford Food Festival on the 14 and 15th of September.

The inspiration behind I Love Crêpes came during the couple’s adventures travelling. Amanda and Martyn fell in love with the sweet crêpes in Malta and Venice and the business idea grew from there. These two chefs then mastered the craft of crêpe making and plan to grow from their midlands base with their range of delicious flavours and transportable crêpe making equipment. Martyn and Amanda’s range of flavours can certainly tantalise a variety of sweet or savoury taste buds. Maltesers or Nutella are chocoholic favourites, while lemon and sugar is a refreshing classic. Some of I Love Crêpes other innovative sweet flavours are apple and cinnamon or mango and cream. Amanda and Martyn also specialise in savoury pancakes known as Galettes which include flavours such as Cajun chicken or ham and Emmental cheese.  

Starting with small car boot sales, Martyn and Amanda have built up to the larger events, first with agricultural shows and now for the first time, the regional Stratford Food Festival. Martyn said: “the Stratford festival is to be the highlight of the year”. They are hoping to interact with food enthusiasts from all over the country at the Festival and make the business more known to the wider midlands regional audience.

The Stratford Food Festival is being held at Stratford racecourse which has excellent parking facilities and there is also a free shuttle bus to the town centre.  Tickets are available now to purchase online via the website www.stratfordfoodfestival.co.uk and a discount is available for early booking. Anyone wanting to keep up with the latest food festival news can follow @foodfest2013 on twitter or like ‘stratfordfoodfestival’ on Facebook.

For more information please contact Selwyn Rowley on 01926 611700 or email Selwyn@lmmc.co.uk

Aubrey Allen, butchers to Her Majesty

Aubrey Allen are one of the Festival Exhibitors for 2013. With another member of the royal household just-arrived, we though it fitting to catch up with the butchers who supply meat products to The Queen…

When did Aubrey Allen first start trading, and how has it grown since then?

We started trading in 1933 from a small shop in Coventry, supplying local households.  We then established a wholesale business and supply many of the Michelin-starred chefs in the UK, in addition to leading restaurants and hotels holding AA rosettes, as well as numerous independently run pubs.

Is it still a family business?

Yes very much so, with Aubrey’s grandson Russell at the helm.  His sisters, Debbie and Lucianne, also work here and their father Peter is chairman.

How does this make you stand out from other meat suppliers?

As an award-winning, independent family business operating from its headquarters and state-of-the-art butchery facility in Coventry, we have developed a nationwide reputation as the Chef’s Butcher.  Our reputation has been based on exceptional customer service and great quality produce.  It is the ultimate honour to be awarded a Royal Warrant and represents the most prestigious stamp of quality and reliability. 

What will Aubrey Allen be offering to festivalgoers this year?

We’ll be offering a small selection of products from our shop in Leamington Spa including sausages, steaks and our infamous pork pies.  We have a vast range of products in the shop but unfortunately can only bring a small number of them with us.

 Aubrey Allen have a royal warrant of appointment as butchers to the Queen: what is Her Majesty’s favourite product? 

Unfortunately we’re sworn to secrecy!

 Where can customers get hold of your award-winning produce apart from the Stratford Food Festival?

 If you are local you can purchase it at our shop at 108 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa or if you live further afield then use our online service at www.aubreyallen.co.uk.

Local band to play closing set at the Festival

Local supergroup Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast are scheduled to close the Stratford Food Festival 2013. We asked them a few questions about music, food, and why Alfonzo chose pancakes for breakfast…


For those who don’t know, who are APB?

APB are a 5 piece covers band from Stratford. Formed from the ashes of local funksters Mister Meaker, APB play a wide ranging set from The Beatles to Bob Marley, The Doors to Little Feat. Playing songs that you know but that haven’t been done to death by ‘every other’ cover band. The band consists of Drew Nicholls (vocals), Elliot Rooney (keyboards), Jono Wright (guitar), Steve Peters (drums) and Tony English (bass).  Jono, Steve and Tony have been playing together since 2001.


Where did the inspiration for the name come from?

The band take their name from the Frank Zappa song ‘St Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast’. Jono, Steve and Tony are big fans of Zappa and wanted to choose something a bit quirky. It could have been a lot worse!

 How long have you been performing, and what’s been your favourite gig so far?

APB have been together since 2010 and have been playing gigs up and down the country ever since. Stratford River Festival in 2011 was a real highlight for us but our favourite gig so far has to be our ‘All Day Breakfast’ where we played 32 gigs in 12 hours in aid of the Shakespeare Hospice.


What is your favourite track to play, and why?

I think we enjoy playing all of the songs which is why it is great to be in APB.  That said Call Me Al and Master Blaster are pretty close.

 Do any of the band members have secret culinary talents?

We are all pretty handy in the kitchen. Drew is pretty good at bunging shrimps on the BBQ, Steve is a dab hand with anything that doesn’t involve nuts, Elliot can recite most takeaway menus from memory and Jono was once a griddle chef at the Encore. Tony, is however a different standard. He likes nothing more than eating sandwiches filled with curried mackerel and squid in ink!

 If APB was a food or a dish, what would it be (excluding a pancake breakfast…)?

A five course feast of contrasting flavours that when eaten together will blow your mind!


Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast will be performing on Sunday 15th September between 3.30 and 5pm on the Performance Stage at the Stratford Food Festival.




http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alfonzos-Pancake-Breakfast | @AlfonzosPB


alfonzos@hotmail.co.uk | 07887647960



Getting to know our Festival Ambassador, Alan Coxon.

Here at the Showplace Events, official organisers of the Stratford Food Festival, we thought it would be beneficial to allow visitors to get to know those involved with the Festival this year….

The following interview will give you an insight into all things Alan Coxon.

  •  For those who don’t know much about you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a  chef by trade, working in many parts of the world in leading hotels and Michelin star restaurants. I worked for four years at the Loews Hotel in Monte Carlo , opened the largest 4 star hotel in Paris as head chef leading an international culinary brigade of over 63 chefs and have had my own restaurant in the Isle of Man. I have cooked for a wide range of international music legends from Franck Sinatra to Michael Jackson , Cher, and Chris de Burgh, to film superstars including Sean Connery and Rosanna Arkette and not forgetting global royalty including Princess Grace , Prince Rainer, and Prince Charles to name but a few.

Whilst working as Executive chef for Baxter’s of Speyside, I was spotted by TV presenter Kirsty Walk who invited me to do a pilot TV show in Glasgow, within 4 weeks I was offered a TV chef presenting role on a series called “Surprise Chefs” for Meridian TV and since then have worked on TV shows including 2 series of “Ever Wondered about Food” for BBC2 ,4 years on the Gloria Hunniford “Open House “ for Channel 5, 4  years as guest chef/presenter on UK Food Network with Jeni Barnett and a host of other shows for BBC Worldwide including a unique series that I wrote and presented called “Coxon`s Royal Feast” where I cooked with the likes of the Zulu King, and Ndebele Kings and Queens that led to a follow-up series called “Coxon`s Sporting Feast”, cooking with sporting Legends such as former South African Rugby captain Francois Pienaar, Golfer Gary Player, 4 times world champion boxer Baby Jake, runner Zola Budd to name but a few.

During this time I have also written 3 cookbooks, ( one of which came in the top 3 best hard back cookbooks of the world) and have had the privilege of doing live cookery demonstrations and shows in many parts of the world. As a Food Archaeologist , I have also spent over ten years developing a unique food ingredient called Ale-Gar , a product that had disappeared from the shores of Britain over 300 years ago and I have used an Ale recipe that was once drank by Queen Elizabeth 1st in its production..

Whilst I am now selling the historic food range across the UK and to 14 countries around the world, I am still actively doing TV and have recently written, produced and presented a brand new series ,soon to be aired across the UK called “From Birmingham to Bombay “.

Keeping my feet well and truly on the ground I return to the kitchen on a regular basis and offer consultancy services to hotels and restaurants, recently working in Kitchens and developing the menu`s and training in restaurants and locations such as Turkey and Tenerife, during the summer cooking and leading a brigade for a banquet in Canada.

  • What have been some of your latest successes/achievements?

Over the past few years , I have been very fortunate to have been acknowledged for a variety of work, including 5 gold and innovation awards for my historic food range and Ale –Gar , however most recently this year I was awarded the MBA for “Entrepreneur of the year”. I believe that the creation of a unique global product together with the new TV series, where I also had to raise the finances and sponsorship to help fund the project, were key reasons for this award.

  • You have a new TV series out, “From Birmingham to Bombay” what was your inspiration for this? Tell us a bit about behind the scenes and your travels while making the series.

It may be strange, but until just a few years ago I had never visited an Indian restaurant before, nor had I ever had an Indian  take-away, whilst  I enjoyed curries, (of which I cooked myself), it always intrigued me how people would talk about going to get a red hot Madras or Vindaloo, a Korma or Rogan Josh, and not forgetting the much used word “tandoori”.

Queen Victoria was famous for her love of Indian food and had  a curry on a regular basis , cooked by her servant sent over from India.

However there was always the debate that the curry`s we have in Britain are not really Indian at all and are British culinary inventions, so with this in mind I decided to investigate the origination of these famous 5 recipes and ask the question, do these curries exist in India ?, if so where and how did they originate?, are they influenced by local or regional culture and what are their historic influences?

And most importantly, are the recipes the same in Britain as in India , if not , why not ? and which are better?

With so many unanswered questions, there was only one way to find out, so my TV series starts off in one of the most famous locations renowned across the UK  for its curry`s, Birmingham!

With over 50 different curry houses within the Balti Triangle or curry mile as it is also known and over 100 Indian restaurants within Birmingham itself, what better place to start.

In Birmingham I visit 5 different restaurants ( one for each show) where the chef shows me how they cook one of the classic recipes , before heading over to India , flying into Bombay (now known as Mumbai).

In Bombay I meet up with Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor who informs me on the best place to go to find the perfect comparable recipe.

The 5 recipes take me to 5 different locations across India to seek out the history and facts behind the dish itself, I also look into the spices used within the dish and do a head to head cook off with a local Indian chef to find out which one is best, the recipe from Birmingham or from Indian!?!

The series offers stunning diversity from the fertile North in the Punjab where we cooked a tandoori Chicken, to the sun, sand, sea and spices lands of Goa in the South for that Portuguese influenced dish “Vindaloo”.

I visit the Taj Mahal to cook a Rogan Josh, head to Madras ( no clues into what curry we investigate there ) head to Kerala to seek out the spice plantations and alternative uses using spices before finding myself back in Bombay to cook some famous street food and a famous creamy Korma!

The results, well you will just have to watch the series to find out!!

  •  How have you found previous Stratford Food Festivals, any particular highlights?

I love the festival, not only is it local for me, I find the people so nice.

At this event , I wear several hats as you can imagine, as I do a demonstration each day, something I do enjoy, as cooking is about having fun and sharing, it also gives me an opportunity to chat  directly with the audience.

I also have a stand at the event that allows me to offer tastings of my historic food range, a great way for people to not only taste something unique but also obtain an ingredient with provenance that is not available in any supermarket across the land , and offers an immense point of difference for any foodie or for those seeking a unique foodie gift.

I feel that the Stratford Food Festival helps to raise awareness of local business, regional entrepreneurs, and food products that are not widely available elsewhere , it helps to showcase small artisanal producers, bring  communities together with shared values and interest for food, help to raise greater awareness and culinary experience for the young and not so young alike and is also a great day out with musical entertainment in a perfect setting by the river Avon, other than sunshine what more can we ask for in life?

  •  What can spectators look forward to seeing from you at this years festival?

At this moment in time I am still deciding what to cook at the event, I do like to leave things to the last-minute as inspiration changes from day-to-day, however the dishes will be taken from my new TV series and they will have an Indian influence.

I am however leaning towards  a dish that I cooked on the streets of Bombay, a dessert sweet called “Cardamom Milk Puffs” that I served with a spiced syrup.

It is simple yet impressive, a dish that everyone will be able to cook at home, but at the same time add their own twist!

I can remember driving around for an hour or so , just looking for a good  location to film this recipe, as I was needing  the right setting in which to cook it on the street , but as you may imagine, the noise factors were extremely challenging and I always attracted a crowd of hundreds wherever I went ,so noise and riot control took priority over the dish!

Eventually I found a street that offered an opportunity and I ended up asking  an old man who was  making and selling cha ( tea) straining the leaves through an old vest into mugs !!! His boiling apparatus ( I would have loved to say kettle at this point) was a batted metal bowl heated by a homemade petrol fuelled cooker that made a huge hissing noise and churned out a heavy smell of exhaust fumes!

A broken wobbly table covered with  random pieces of broken wood was to be my work surface  with no water to wash with and a cloth that also turned out to be another of his old vests!

Noise and pollution were key challenges to say the least, the 35 dgrs daily temperature added to the environmental experiences , but within 5 minutes and one take, I had managed to knock up a few puffs  and serve to the gathered crowed, who I must admit were very appreciative of the finished product.

With all this said, my Cardamom Milky Puffs will be taking on a twist so I hope you can come along to enjoy.