International flavour at North Shields festival

An international flavour was brought to the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival by chefs and producers.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 10:14 am
Rob Harrison (left) and Danny Kowalczyk of Goodtimes Tacos hard at work at the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.

Thousands of visitors at the bank holiday weekend event – now in its eighth year – were able to try food from India, the Middle East, Greece, Germany, Spain, South America and Italy.

The festival, held in Northumberland Square, also provided a new outlet for food professionals.

Alan Barker (left) and Craig Howlett in the Zucchini pasta van at the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.

Alan Barker opened the Zucchini Pasta Bar in the centre of Newcastle two years ago, expanding his business last year with a pasta van he used for the first time in North Shields.

Fellow chef Craig Howlett, who worked with Alan at Marco Polo – one of the city’s best-known restaurants – before joining him at Zucchini, said discerning North East festival-goers want high quality and healthy street food.

He said: “No one else is doing hand-rolled fresh pasta, so we saw a great opportunity.”

Danny Kowalczyk, from Gosforth, was working as a baker when he started practising making fish tacos in his kitchen at home.

The North Tyneside Steelband performing at the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.

Last year he gave up his job and launched Goodtimes Tacos, which is becoming a familiar site at festivals, events, breweries and bars in the region.

Inside his food truck, Danny – helped by Rob Harrison – hand makes fresh corn tortillas to create their tacos, which use locally farmed meat and sustainable British fish.

Danny said: “I was a baker for 16 years and this is a lot more fun. Street food is massive now in Newcastle.

“Business is going great and we’re fully booked for the summer.”

As well as providing street food, the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival provided a showcase for dozens of local producers.

There was live music, including performances from the North Tyneside Steelband, and this year the event also featured craft stalls.

Mark Deakin, who runs the festival with his wife Shelley, said: “For us one of the best things about the event is that it’s a mix of people who have taken part before, along with new ones like Alan and Danny.

“Most importantly that’s also good for the many people who come to see us every year.”

The Proper Food and Drink Festival’s will visit Whitley Bay’s Spanish City Plaza on June 15 and 16. For more on Proper Food and Drink Festivals, visit