Warm welcome at River Cottage for the Universal Cookery & Food Festival
The one-day event at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s HQ in Axminster, Devon, was blessed with wonderful weather and a great turn-out of chefs and visitors, drawn by the eclectic mix of demos and presentations, foraging tours and extensive farmers’ market where local producers and international suppliers displayed their fresh produce and latest culinary concepts.
John Feeney from the Craft Guild of Chefs, who along with Craft Guild vice chairman Lee Maycock and fellow committee member Ian Nottage, spearheaded the event three years ago, said that River Cottage was “the culinary epicentre for all food bloggers and chefs”.
“What I liked about the site is that it isn’t just one level of chef; we have the housewife, amateur chef and the professional chef,” he commented. “I felt very honoured to be there. This event is about making sure we tie in with the local heroes along with providing innovation, trends and creativity. The location itself is a great compliment to what we do.”
Gill Mellor, group head chef at River Cottage, added that the River Cottage’s people were very excited to have had UCFF there. “It’s been a real pleasure and a privilege,” he said. “There is so much excitement and so many likeminded people have been here to celebrate food, ingredients and cookery.”
The location was certainly a magnet for chefs, with places on the foraging and farm tours being filled within the first hour of opening.
John Wright, River Cottage’s wild food expert, took visitors to explore the countryside and to learn more about the edible species of plants that can be found growing wild in the surrounding hedgerows, woods and fields, while Will Livingstone, River Cottage’s head gardener, led the farm tour, sharing his knowledge on becoming self-sustained. He guided visitors around Park Farm to enjoy the famous kitchen garden, the farmhouse and the poly tunnels.
The farmers’ market, split between the courtyard, barn and festival and unplugged tents, saw more than 60 exhibitors set up their stands, where visitors could sample food and drink and be the first to hear about new products, with a number of launches occurring at the festival.
There was also plenty of opportunity to taste amazing food throughout the day. For example, Craft Guild member Alan Paton and the Porketeers cooked up a porky breakfast, while students of the River Cottage Cookery School cooked a sustainable lunch for the attendees.
In the evening, Indie-pop band SpaceGoat provided the backing for an evening of good food, drink and networking, as chefs mingled in the courtyard enjoying a barbecue provided by River Cottage and craft beer from sponsors Greene King.
• Save the Date! Join us on 23rd September 2015 at Vallum Farm in Newcastle upon Tyne for the Universal Cookery & Food Festival’s fourth year. It’s unmissable!
For further information about UCFF 2015, call 01293 854403 or email email@example.com