Crowds get taste of Rochdale’s new food and drink festival

FANTASTIC: Star chef Andrew Nutter with Councillor Janet Emsley in the festival kitchen.

More than 4,500 people descended on Rochdale Town Hall this weekend for a taste of the new Rochdale Food & Drink Festival - staged for the first time on Saturday.

The celebration of food and drink was staged on the Esplanade and inside the town hall, packed with stalls, live cooking, star chefs, bars, workshops and family entertainment.   A host of acts took to the music stage during the day, entertaining visitors as they enjoyed the food and drink. 

Chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli, Nisha Katona, Andrew Nutter and Tom McNeeney delivered masterclasses in the festival kitchen, with many visitors also watching the demonstrations on big screens in the festival dining room.

CBeebies ‘I Can Cook’ presenter Katy Ashworth got the loudest reception of the day from the excited children who loved her family show, learning about where food comes from through music and games!

The elegant reception room was transformed into a 1920’s-themed bar for the day hosting a series of free workshops including ‘Wonderful Wines’, ‘The Gin Experience,’ and ‘Cocktail Making Like A Pro.’ 

Sue Hanson was the winner of the Easter themed cake competition, judged by Jean-Christophe Novelli and local cake supremo Natasha Brown from Brown’s Cakes. Runner up was Maria Suharwardy.  All entries in the under 13s category were awarded first prize, with the judges being unable to select a winner due to the quality of cakes on show.

During the morning festival highlights were broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester.

The festival concluded with a gourmet four course dinner cooked by Andrew Nutter in the Clock Tower Dining Room.  The star chef and his team served a special menu prepared exclusively for the evening along with live musical accompaniment.

Visitors took to social media over the weekend to praise the new festival, with comments including “excellent,” “a beautiful evening with amazing food,” “such a good day,” and “really great atmosphere, yummy food, great music.” 

Councillor Janet Emsley, the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture, said: “It was an impressive debut and I would like to thank everyone who came and supported the festival as well as our sponsors The Flying Horse Hotel and The Quirky Catering Company. The weather was kind to us and we even enjoyed some sunshine. It was fantastic to receive great support as we all continue to raise the profile of the town. Some traders sold out and we’ve had some excellent feedback from visitors and stallholders. Many of our visitors were impressed with the variety of stalls and the historic setting of our wonderful town hall.”

Rochdale Food and Drink Festival was organised by the council together with sponsorship from The Flying Horse Hotel, and The Quirky Catering Company. 

To view photographs from the day visit www.rochdale.gov.uk or visit @RochFoodFest on Twitter.

26 Mar 2018