Great Line-up for this Year’s Didcot Food Festival

Organisers of this year’s Didcot Food Festival, held at the Civic Hall on the 27th October, have ensured that there will be something of interest for all foodies, whatever their age.

Year on year this event is proving popular, not only for visitors but Artisan Food & Drink exhibitors, live musicians, street food stands, charities and the well known chefs and bakers who get involved in show casing their skills in the Chef’s Kitchen.

This year, the charismatic French Chef Patissier, Benoit Blin, of Raymond Blanc’s internationally renowned Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons will be opening the event at 10 am. With an impressive CV, not only as an award winning Chef Patissier achieving the title of Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) awarded every four years to the best pastry chefs in the UK, Benoit is also known to many as a very experienced judge. As well as appearing as a judge on the last two series of the BBC Two programme ‘Crème de la Crème’ and more recently on Channel 4’s ‘Bake Off – The Professionals’, he has judged prestigious events such as the UK Pastry Open, UK and European Sugar Championships, National Chef of the Year and the Master of Culinary Arts Finals to name but a few. “I am looking forward to opening another great local food event in Didcot,” says Benoit. “This is an excellent opportunity for the community and hopefully you will be inspired to take on cooking, enjoy good quality food with a little bit of baking too!

Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

At 11.00 am in the Chef’s Kitchen, Siberian born Julia, a contestant on the 2017 series of Channel 4’s ‘The Great British Bake Off’ will be the first to share her passion for baking recipes from her Russian heritage as well as exploring different baking cultures from around the world.

The popular duo from the award winning Restaurant 56 at Sudbury House Hotel in Faringdon, MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Nick Bennett and his boss Executive Head Chef Andrew Scott will be giving tips on how they prepare some of their fine dining dishes at 12 noon.

Former ‘Great British Bake Off’ contestants Howard Middleton and Christine Wallace, who both appeared on the fourth series, will be doing a joint demonstration at 1.00 pm. There will be an element of competition and much fun to be had between them as Howard will be showing off a gluten free bake whilst Christine be producing a similar bake using conventional ingredients. Someone will then be asked to decide which is the winner – so everything to bake for! “I always look forward to doing a demo at the Didcot Food Festival” says Christine Wallace, who is also one of the main organisers of the event. “Howard and I are great friends and we always have fun working together which in turns adds to the enjoyment for our audiences. This if the first time however since we left Bake Off, that we have competed to see who has the winning bake!

Broadcaster, journalist, food writer and former anchorman from BBC TV’s legendary ‘That’s Life’ Bill Buckley will be showing just how delicious his favourite dinner party recipes are. A member of the prestigious Guild of Food Writers for 20 years, Bill has broadcast countless hours devoted to food on both TV and Radio Berkshire. A former ‘Come Dine with Me’ winner, he has also reviewed over 100 London restaurants for and is looking forward to being part of the Didcot Food Festival. “Although I have cooked live on TV a few times and appeared in front of live crowds countless times, I have never put the cooking and the crowds together so wish me luck!” says Bill. “I plan to show how to make a scrumptious Chocolate and Strawberry Trifle and I am looking forward to seeing you at Didcot!

Last but not least to appear at 3.00 pm in the Chef’s Kitchen is Kate Saunders, a lady with a passion for cooking with ‘secret ingredients’ and who runs ‘Blackberry Cottage’ cookery school. As a former Sports Massage Practitioner who has worked with Olympic and Paralympic gold medallists, Kate decided to combine her love of baking linked to nutrition. Nowadays she shows people how easy it is to create delicious baked products using a range of ‘secret’ vegetable ingredients, very popular with children and adults.

Other delights to be found at this year’s Didcot Food Festival are a range of Artisan food and drink stalls, a Vintage tea shop with mouth-watering cakes and biscuits, delicious hot street food and live music to listen to whilst you enjoy what is happening in the outside area behind the Civic Centre.

Kidz Kooking is an area devoted to numerous children’s activities; Mrs Bun the Baker will be there and children can get involved in making pizzas to take home and bake, ice a cake or biscuit, take part in a dedicated quiz about vegetables which they will get to taste.

To find out more about who is appearing at this year’s Didcot Food & Drink Festival visit You can buy your early bird tickets at just £4.00 for adults or £5.00 on the day.. Children under 16 free when accompanied by an adult. Please get a printed ticket to attend. Tickets are also available at the Nationwide Building Society and Newbury Building Society in Didcot.

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Penny Post


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