THOUSANDS of food lovers are expected to descend on Tynemouth this weekend for a spectacular celebration of the region’s culinary heritage.
The village will be transformed into a foodie haven as more than 40 local producers gather alongside a host of celebrity north east chefs.
The gastronomic extravaganza will also see a beer festival, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, school cooking competitions and a host of other exciting gourmet activities springing up for the two day village-wide event.
Nine months in the planning, the first ever Tynemouth Food Festival has captured both the imagination of artisan producers and the public.
Stallholders signed up in record time for the free to attend festival centred round the village’s Queen Victoria Park and King’s School, with scores adding their name to a reserve list in the hope of securing a last minute pitch.
And regional chefs – including Graeme Cuthell of Irvins on North Shields Fish Quay; MasterChef: The Professionals finalist John Calton of the Harbour Lights, South Shields; Kevin Mulraney of Tynemouth’s Grand Hotel; Mary Wilkins of the New Exchange Brasserie and Bar in North Shields, and Simon Walsh of Close House Hotel’s No 19 restaurant in Northumberland – have also given their time for free to host two days of cookery demonstrations in regional food group Taste North East’s state of the art mobile kitchen.
Organised by the Tynemouth Business Forum with support of the Co-operative Membership, North Tyneside Council, fish and chip shop supplier Henry Colbeck and village businesses Fezziwigs, Priory Art, Brannen and Partners and King’s School, it had originally been intended to hold a simple farmers’ market.
But residents and businesses have been queuing up to ensure the inaugural Tynemouth Food Festival is a true celebration of the finest produce and culinary talent on offer anywhere in the UK.
Sally Craigen, chairman of both the Tynemouth Business Forum and the food festival committee, said: “The event has captured everyone’s imagination and from small beginnings has swelled into a truly village wide affair with residents and businesses and young and old alike all joining forces to pay homage to this region’s superb home grown and home produced food and drink.
“We have been bowled over by the response. It is fair to say that at the beginning we never envisaged anything as spectacular as the weekend we now have planned.
“But, once word got out it seemed to take wings.
“We have gone from a glorified farmers’ market to a two-day foodie feast with more than 40 stallholders and the added attractions of the chef demos, a week-long beer festival taking place in the Cumberland Arms, a school cake decorating competition, a Junior MasterChef-style contest organised by the Grand Hotel, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and a host of other activities from cocktail making sessions to wine tastings.
“But it shows the support there is out there for local food and drink producers.”
For more information go to www.tynemouthfoodfestival.co.uk
Sally added: “Our aim has always been to encourage people to support local, put their money back into the regional economy and discover what a fantastic place Tynemouth and this part of the north east coast is.
“The first Tynemouth Food Festival promises to be a fabulous weekend of gastronomic delights for all and we look forward to welcoming as many people as possible to the village.”
Among the producers taking part are the Northumberland Cheese Company, Doddington Dairy, the Glass Slipper Bakery, Riley’s Fish Shack, Kenspeckle Confectionary and Moorhouse Farm.
Some, like butchers TR Johnson from Wooler and Tynemouth’s Deli Around the Corner, are attending their first ever food festival.
Meanwhile, the Cumberland Arms’ Beer Festival will feature around 50 seasonal real ales – many of them never before seen in the north east.
They will join popular local names like Mordue and the Allendale Brewery in the week-long celebration of the ‘noble hop’ running until May 17.
Landlord David Irving said: “We’re going to feature a variety of seasonal beers for the festival. Some of these are only available for three or four weeks of the year and many will never have been seen in the North East before.
“I wanted to create something special to mark the first Tynemouth Food Festival, and with the broad selection of beers and real ales we will have on offer, I believe it will be a memorable occasion. After all, real ale and high quality food go hand-in-hand.”
Tynemouth Food Festival is free to attend and will take place on May 12-13 between 9am-4pm at locations across the village.