From its chefs, producers, farmers, and makers, Wales’ food scene is continuing to thrive and flourish in 2019 with some of the industry’s best talent heading to this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival (21st – 22nd September).
Launching a new Welsh Chefs Demo Stage at the festival for 2019 and with more Welsh traders in the markets than ever before, Abergavenny Food Festival CEO Aine Morris underlines the strong connection between produce and the land as a key factor to the continued rise of Welsh food.
“We’re very proud to showcase a thriving Welsh food scene at the festival this year allowing visitors at the festival to get involved, ask questions and shake the hand that feeds them. From farmers like Martha Roberts and Muhsen Hassanin, to the incredible products from Mamgu Welshcakes, The Mallow Tailor and Ty Gwyn Cider, and talented chefs such as Tom Watts-Jones and Gareth Ward. There’s a common passion for their craft, as well as a strong sense of the place in which they farm, grow and create food and drink.”
The celebrations begin with the Food Festival Community Feast on Thursday 19th September held at Abergavenny’s iconic Market Hall. With The Angel Bakery cooking up a storm, the feast will celebrate the unveiling of the famous festival decorations created by local artist Bettina Reeves.
The new Welsh Chefs Demo Stage, delivered in collaboration with PGI Welsh Lamb & Beef / Hybu Cig Cymru, will be based in The Festival Farmyard, where wristband holders can watch free demos from a wealth of Welsh culinary talent including chef Hywel Griffith of Beach House in Oxwich on the Gower Peninsular, Tom Watts-Jones from the Michelin-recognised Hare and Hounds in Cowbridge, Tommy Heaney of Cardiff's Heaneys and Uisce, and Matt Waldron of The Stackpole Inn in Pembroke.
Meanwhile, the Cooking over Fire demo area at The Castle will see Sam and Shauna of Hang Fire Southern Kitchen team up with local free-range pig farmer Martha Roberts showcasing the importance of the direct relationship between supplier and chef; and star of BBC’s Dirty Vegan, Matt Pritchard will teach you how to create some ‘proper tasty’ vegan food over fire. There’s also the chance to head out into the local countryside and learn to identify seasonal wild herbs and plants with local forager Liz Knight and Mark Diacono of Otter Farm gathering ingredients to make Wild Cocktails.
The Borough Theatre will host a number of talks over the festival weekend with Farmer Muhsen Hassanin, one of the only halal livestock farmers in Monmouthshire joined by multi-awarding winning author and chef, Anissa Helou and Fozia Ismail – founder of Somali supper-club Arawelo Eats & one of OFM’s 2019 Top 50 to discuss Foods of the Islamic World.
Elsewhere at the festival, Gareth Ward of Ynyshir, recently named the best restaurant in Wales at the National Restaurant Awards, will be cooking on the main Market Hall stage as will Chris Harrod of The Whitebrook; Laurian Veaudour of Cardiff patisserie Cocorico will be taking a masterclass on mouth-watering patisserie and sharing some of his technical know-how; Josh Byrne of The Black Bear Inn in Usk will be joining farmer, butcher and cook, Tom Jones to talk through the complex world of the cow; Cyrus Todiwala will hold a Welsh Shellfish tasting workshop talking through the best that Wales’ waters have to offer, he’ll also join Nick Miller and Sarah Dickins of Black Welsh Lamb and chef Jane Baxter for a masterclass on pasture-fed mutton, and writer Jack Bevan and leading producer Trealy Farm Charcuterie will lead a masterclass in Charcuterie and Vermouth pairing.
Plus there’s Farmyard Matters Talks with the likes of David Herbert of Hermit Crab Eggs – Wales’ most successful egg exhibitor, micro-holder and poultry pundit; pig tales from pig farmers Martha Roberts (The Decent Company) and Helen Joy (Swanbridge Porkers); and the story of a loaf of bread from Powys' Talgarth Mill.
Fringe Festival events are hosted by the Abergavenny community, to showcase the wealth of food activities around the region, which take place long after the festival has closed its doors. As part of the Fringe Festival this year, events include a permaculture feast from Three Pools Permaculture Farm ; coffee cupping event with Coaltown Coffee Roasters; and Chesters Wine Merchants will be pairing South African wines with a traditional Braai provided by Cardiff-based caterers The Tidy Kitchen Co.
As part of the Fringe programme, a very special edition of the History Cooked Food Club, a food history dining club run by chef and food writer Rosie Sykes and food historian Polly Russell will take place in the Art Shop & Chapel in the town on Friday 20th September. They will be collaborating with Franco Taruschio, the former-owner chef of the Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, for a unique opportunity to hear from the man who put this Welsh town on the food map.
Weekend and day wristbands on sale now via www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com
Tickets are sold separately for all events at the Borough Theatre, Masterclasses, Drinks Theatre, Tutored Tastings, Foraging Tours and off-site events and the Cookery School. Check the website for further info.