The last ten days have been crazy busy. Two major food festivals and the BBC’s prestigious Food & Farming Awards, there’s been a lot to keep up with!. There was a fair bit of heroic double-festivalling (Is that a verb? Should be …) by some of the biggest names in food, with chefs like Olia Hercules & Gill Mellor cooking up a feast for festival goers in both the GoodLifeExperience and Abergavenny Food Festival.
Abergavenny is the largest, longest running Food Festival in Wales, and over the three days that it ran, I had the joy of photographing (and tasting, obviously…) some of the best chefs and food producers in the land – there was Lobster cooked over an open fire by chef Freddy Bird (The Lido), barbequed Roe Deer cooked by the talented head chef at Wilsons, Jan Ostle, the best Samosa’s in town demonstrated by Romy Gill (Romy’s Kitchen).
I had my first taste of Shakh Plov, a rice dish of chicken, barberries, and spice cooked under a crispy flatbread cooked by Olia Hercules, as part of an Eat Your Words supperclub, an incredible burger by the award winning Beefy Boys, mussels steamed over an open fire by outdoor cooking expert Genevieve Taylor. I watched like a teenager at a Take That festival as food heroes Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, Ross Gibbens, Jan Ostle and Tom Heaney cosied up in the Belazu kitchen to create a Sunday lunch to end all sunday lunches, and I felt like everything I knew about food was turned on it’s head as the chefs from Edinburgh Food Studio worked their alchemy on everything they touched, from blackening cabbages to hand picking flower stamens to cook up a feast to charm the most jaded diner.
I have always turned down the offers to teach Food Photography, but new Abergavenny CEO Aine Morris can be very persuasive so I also found myself running a Masterclass on Saturday to some budding snappers, with the help of Food Stylist Geneveive Taylor, and we spilled the beans on some of the tricks of the trade in making food look as good as it tastes. Hopefully, the participants came away with a better understanding of how to get from A-B …
All this was only a small part of the festival overall, and once my feet stop hurting I will start counting the days until the next one.
A Jewish girl from North London isn’t the likeliest of Pig Farmers, but then Irayne Paikin enjoys being a bit of an anomaly. She bought a run down farmhouse in the Cotswolds 12 years ago as a rural retreat from London life. When she finished the renovations Irayne moved onto populating her orchards with a few Gloucester Old Spot Pigs, and 12 years on she runs the spotless 800 acre Todenham Manor Farm dedicatied to ethical farming practises, where the welfare of her animals is paramount and she micro manages every aspect of the field to fork process. This is exactly the blueprint that all farms should take – welfare over profit, animals who live outdoors with plenty space and everything kept local. They have a butchery on site so everything is kept to her high standards and the meat is cut to order. If you are going to eat meat, then this is exactly the kind of place you need to buy it from.
For a cookbook-o-phile like me, Diana Henry’s seasonal cookbook lists are something I look forward to in the way that I used to look forward ot the Oscar Nominations being poublished when I worked in film. Her Autumn list here
And to end, a thought provoking article by Patrick Holden, winner of the Derek Cooper Outstanding Achievement Award at this years BBC Food and Farming Awards, about the true cost of cheap food here
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