February got off to an epic start with Rockliffe Hall’s first Festival of Food from the 2nd-9th February, which saw chefs from all over the UK come together in a series of delicious food and drink experiences. It was a huge success and saw thousands of people flock to Rockliffe Hall to celebrate British cuisine.
The festival kicked off with a two-day Artisan Food Fair which saw 45 producers and street food traders sell their goods, as well as live chef demonstrations by Rockliffe Hall chefs Richard Allen, Paul O’Hara and Aaron Craig, and Great British Menu chefs Danny Parker, Daniel Fletcher and Dave Coulson taking place periodically throughout the weekend in the beautiful Looking Glass House.
Chef Tom Brown made a guest appearance at Savour’s Spirit Schools held at the Artisan Food Fair. He teamed up with Hepple Gin and Hodgson Fish to create a specially prepared gin-infused oyster amuse bouche for gin participants at the Sunday Gin School session. There were also Rum and Whisky Schools held which showcased spirits from all over the country.
The Artisan Food Fair weekend also saw the start of the series of special lunches and dinners – among the celebrated chefs was Andrew Pern who did a special Sunday Lunch after being voted the World’s Best Sunday Lunch by Lonely Planet, and the Great British Menu chefs – Dave Coulson of Peace & Loaf, Danny Parker of Jesmond Dene House, and Daniel Fletcher of Fenchurch Sky Garden in London – were reunited for a special evening where they recreated dishes they had cooked on Great British Menu in celebration of 70 years of the NHS. Tickets for both events sold out shortly after going on sale.
Event sponsors, G&G Goodfellows – who supply tableware to the UK’s top chefs such as Gordon Ramsay – showed visitors how to ‘bring home the restaurant’ look with their new brand Goodfellows at Home. Valda Goodfellow, co-owner of Goodfellows at Home, said:
“At the Artisan Food Fair we felt a flurry of excitement and pride to be involved in such a fantastic event. When Rockliffe Hall asked if we would like to be involved in their first Artisan Food Fair, we jumped at the chance. We knew there would be lots of foodies visiting the hotel that weekend and we really wanted to meet people that loved tableware as much as we do.
“It was a great opportunity to show off our tableware in style – and it really showcased the amount of amazing local producers we have in our region.”
The Festival of Food also included a tasting menu by TV regular and winner of the Gourmand Book Awards’ Best Chef Cookbook in the World, Mark Greenaway; a lunch with Rockliffe Hall’s head gardener Phil Mennell; a wine and food pairing masterclass with Rockliffe’s head sommelier Daniel Jonberger; a unique food and wine experience with celebrated chef Mark Jordan and forager Kazz; a very special Taste of the North East banquet with the region’s finest chefs, and an exquisite dining experience with James Mackenzie, chef patron of the Michelin-starred Pipe and Glass Inn.
The week-long festival culminated with a black tie gala dinner where Rockliffe Hall’s three executive chefs Richard Allen, Aaron Craig and Paul O’Hara each created a special dish to conclude the Festival of Food celebrations. Chief Executive Eamonn Elliot said:
“The resort’s first ever Festival of Food was a huge success. Every event, from the Artisan Food Fair to the dinners, lunches and drink tastings, were thoroughly enjoyed by our guests. It’s impossible to say which event was the highlight because each one was so unique and we had some fabulous chefs, big names in the industry, joining us during the week.
“Our inaugural Festival of Food couldn’t have gone any better and I’m certain it will become a firm, and very popular fixture, in the country’s food event calendar.”
The official media partner for the event was Savour Magazine. Savour’s editor Georga Spottiswood said:
“What an absolutely cracking event for the region. It was the first of its kind which not only celebrated the amazing talent pool of chefs that we have, but the outstanding grass roots level producers. Food is an ingredient which binds us all together and this event did that too. It was great to see thousands turn up at the Artisan Food Fair.
She added: “From chefs to producers, we have a phenomenal food heritage which this event showcased – and we can’t wait for next year’s event.”
All photography by Marion Botella Photography.