Aylsham Food Festival's 10th anniversary a great success
Aylsham Farmers Market

10th anniversary Aylsham Food Festival a great success

Images sup[plied by ARP Photography

From jugglers to cookery demonstrations and Kids Cooking Workshops to chocolate making, this year’s Aylsham Food Festival, organised by Slow Food Aylsham, was sure to provide something for Norfolk foodies!

Cookery demonstration kitchen – chefs Mary Kemp (left) and Vanessa Scott with compere Steve Thorpe

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Festival started on Wednesday 30 September with a talk in the library about Norwich’s chocolate history plus a  Harvest Lunch in Aylsham’ parish church which also played host to the next two days of Kids Cooking Workshops. Children from the Aylsham Cluster’s primary schools were tasked with making a fresh fruit sponge to take home and this was baked off at the town’s Co-op store. The Co-op also kindly supplied most of the ingredients for these events which proved very popular with the youngsters.

Friday morning featured Aylsham Country Market where samples of the Market’s many products were available to taste.

Guests at the Gala Dinner (left, nearest the camera is Duncan Spalding, head teacher at Aylsham High School)

Friday evening saw the traditional Food Festival Gala Dinner at Aylsham High School. Over 110 guests sat down to a splendid 5-course meal which was sourced, prepared, cooked and served by students, led by their Catering Captain Molly Bowyer.  Head of the Hospitality & Catering department, Jason Baxter, was overseeing the proceedings with assistance from two local chefs, Alastair Bradshaw, catering manager at the National Trust’s Felbrigg Hall and Steve Norgate, head chef at the Beechwood Hotel in North Walsham. Helping ‘front of house’ was Adam Fields from the Dales Country House Hotel in Upper Sheringham.

Students taking orders at the Gala Dinner

The proceeds of a raffle held during the evening, plus a donation from ticket sales, allowed Slow Food Aylsham to make a donation of over £700 to the Liz Jones Memorial Fund for Children, set up last year in memory of one of the founders of the organisation.

Students were presented to the guests at the end of the Gala Dinner

After dinner speaker was Chairman of Norfolk Food & Drink Ltd, Sarah de Chair, who spoke warmly of the school and its students, praising the high standard of cuisine and serving skills on display. “Thank you so much for inviting me to your dinner this year”, she said, “It was a wonderful experience and lovely to see first-hand what everyone has been talking about for years.”

Kids Cooking Workshops in the Parish Church took place all day Thursday and Friday

Slow Food Aylsham dubbed the penultimate day of the Festival ‘Showcase Saturday’. Attracting large numbers of visitors to the town, it featured a wide range of events, from a cookery demonstration kitchen with six top Norfolk chefs, to family cooking workshops, chocolate making, sugar craft and apple pressing. Lighthearted entertainment was provided by Gordon Blur, the juggling chef and Aylsham’s One Foot in the Groove jazz band. Most of these activities were in the Market Place and Town Hall which also hosted the FARMA-accredited Farmers Market.

Family Cooking Workshops in the Parish Church on Saturday

Aylsham’s Heritage Centre was the venue for a wine tasting on Saturday evening while the following morning saw the traditional finale to Aylsham Food Festival, the Big Slow Breakfast. Some 70 diners sat down to a ‘Full English’, prepared and cooked by members of Slow Food Aylsham and friends who, once the last guest had departed, treated themselves to brunch with what was left.

Juggling chef Gordon Blur performed outside Aylsham Town Hall

Aylsham Food Festival has, in its 10-year history, evolved to become one of the town’s most important annual events. Chairman of Slow Food Aylsham, Roger Willis, summed it up: “We are very proud to be able to present such a popular event which is designed to appeal to the whole community. Our members work extremely hard to make sure everything runs smoothly and this year has been another tribute to their efforts. Roll on 2016!”

Anniversary Aylsham Food Festival

You can keep up to date with Aylsham Food Festival, supported by Broadland District Council and Norfolk Food & Drink Ltd, at www.slowfoodaylsham.org.uk, via Facebook and Twitter: @aylshamfoodfest



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