Food lovers set to hit Stratford for festival

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All the demonstrations and classes involving Stratford’s finest chefs and barmen will be free.

Phil Bailey, from the Falcon Hotel in Chapel Street, is one of those showcasing his culinary skills on stage. On Saturday and Sunday he will be conjuring up some fish dishes. But it all starts today with something totally different – decorating gingerbread men and women.

“It’s all about making food interesting for children,” he explained. “We will be there to help them with their creations – whether it’s a footballer or a ballerina.”

Phil has been head chef at the Falcon Hotel for nearly 12 months and was previously with Alveston Manor and Billesley Manor. He is looking forward to his events on Saturday and Sunday when he hopes to show that cooking with fish need not be an ordeal.

“For me it’s all about simplifying things and demystifying the whole cooking process,” he said. “It’s also about sustainability and using local producers when we can.”

The kids’ classes will be held tomorrow from 4pm and are aimed at children up to seven years old. Demonstrations in the Waterside Cookery Theatre start at 11am on both Saturday and Sunday with tickets for events involving TV chefs James Martin and Simon Rimmer costing £10.

More than 50 local businesses will be involved in the festival, many of them taking stalls in Henley Street, Bridge Street and Waterside. There will also be entertainment on Bridge Street and Sheep Street over the weekend.

Tomorrow evening main sponsors Loxley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar will host a charity fundraising dinner with Simon Rimmer, raising cash for Shakespeare Hospice and the Stratford Hospital Cancer and Eye Appeal.

More than 30 businesses are taking part, and Ruth Wood, Stratforward event manager and one of the festival organisers, said there had already been a lot of interest with food fans and real ale buffs reserving their tickets.

She said: “We have had to limit the taste trails and real ale trails to just 200 people on both the Saturday and Sunday,” she said.

“And with everything to sample from cheese to fudge and with so many wonderful restaurants and cafes – not to mention the pubs – they are proving really popular.

“This is an ideal opportunity for businesses to showcase what they do and for those visiting the festival it is a chance to sample food and beer from a number of different venues, many of which they may not have been to in the past. It really is a win, win situation.”

Tickets for the taste trails cost £3 each and the real ale trail tickets cost £5 which includes a souvenir glass. To reserve A place, people asked to go to www.stratfordtowncentrefoodfestival

Pictured: Debbie Williams (Paxton & Whitfield), Francois Macheras (White Swan) and Andrew Edwards (33 The Scullery) will all be taking part in this weekend’s Stratford Town Centre Food Festival.