The Countdown is on… Bolton Food & Drink Festival Madness Ahoy!

Hello Guys,

How are you? Me? I’m delirious with happiness, practically giddy. Not because I bought a gorgeous sari this weekend (more on that later). Nor because there was a tub of free cakes in the office (I’m easily pleased). Nope, the reason I had a spring in my step is because I checked my calendar this morning and discovered there’s just less than two weeks to the Bolton Food & Drink Festival. If you don’t know what it is, where in God’s name have you been? Get yourself to this festival pronto, because this is quickly becoming the mother of all food festivals and an event not to be missed.

Aiden Byrne @ Manchester House. A restaurant which I SO need to check out.
Aiden Byrne @ Manchester House. A restaurant which I SO need to check out.

Seriously – if you have a job interview, or your dog / child / pet / relative twice removed needs their daily visit to the park / some other pressing matter and you’re the chaperone – postpone it. Seriously. And head to this festival. The four day festival coincides with the August Bank Holiday weekend and the weather is going to be simply glorious (I’m sure Hurricane Bertha will have slunk off by then).

John Wilkinson Head Chef Extraordinaire @ Worsley Park Marriott Hotel and Country Club.
John Wilkinson Head Chef Extraordinaire @ Worsley Park Marriott Hotel and Country Club.

So, what’s so great about this festival that’s got me a in a topsy turvy tizz? I haven’t got shares in the gig, I promise. Well (takes deep breath) we’ll see top regional chefs sharing their culinary expertise in a tonne of free (FREE I tell you!) cooking demos, including Aiden Byrne, Aazam Ahmad, Andrew Nutter, John Wilkinson, Tom Gardner, Sean Wilson and Jackie Kearney. I blogged about Aiden when he appeared on the BBC’s Restaurant Wars documentary and his avant garde cooking caught my eye, so it’ll be great to see him do a demo.

Festival headliners include scrummier than a freshly baked scone James Martin, cool as a cucumber John Torode and Italian Stallion Gino D’Campo. What’s not to like? Plus there will be food stalls galore packed with fresh, locally sourced produce. For those who crave fayre from far flung shores, European-style huts selling mountains of delicious bratwurst and super thin crepes will definitely float your boat. And you can wash your delicious food down with an ice cold beer or two whilst revelling in the carnival atmosphere that includes street performers and live music.

Tom Gardner Executive Head Chef @ Manchester's Renaissance Hotel.
Tom Gardner Executive Head Chef @ Manchester’s Renaissance Hotel.

This food festival is one of my favourite events and a must for any self-respecting foodie. Do try and make it to the free food demos, because you can pick up neat tips and tricks, perfect for the seasoned chef or budding home cook. I totally acquiesce with Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, who said: “The free demonstrations at Bolton Market and the Market Place Shopping Centre chef marquee have grown in popularity every year with visitors to the festival and on the regional chefs’ circuit. They provide a perfect opportunity for people to learn some fantastic cooking tips, which they can try at home, and to meet the chefs from their favourite restaurants. This year we are pleased that Market Place Shopping Centre will be hosting demos again on each day of the festival – this time in a designated regional chef marquee – and we’re really looking forward to holding demos on Friday and Saturday in the new Lifestyle Hall at our refurbished Bolton Market.”

I personally cannot wait to see Carol Brown do an amazing demo with chocolate (Saturday 23rd August, 10am & 2pm). And wouldn’t it be grand if there were chocolate samples too? I’m looking into making chocolate in the not too distant future and it will be good to glean some tips from Carol. So come on, what are you waiting for? I’ll be there skipping from one stall to another, getting snap happy with my camera with a ribbon in my hair (I lied about the ribbon, it’s a poetic picture I’m painting in my head). See you there – miss it, miss out!