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Issue 87 - Meet the Producer: Foodies Festival

Scotland Magazine Issue 87
June 2016

 

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Meet the Producer: Foodies Festival

Michael Morris visits the Edinburgh Foodies Festival

Since launching our regular ‘Meet the Producer’ column, we have generally focussed solely on one artisanal producer of Scottish foodstuff per issue. However, for this edition of Scotland Magazine, we felt it appropriate to mark the 10th anniversary of an event of culinary importance; one that for the past decade has brought the people of Scotland (and indeed the UK) closer to the very best food and drink the nation has to offer.

Founded in 2006 by Sue Hitchen (who also happens to be the editor of Foodies magazine and Edinburgh Festivals magazine), the Foodies Festival came into life with the intention of providing a fun family environment in which guests could celebrate, engage with and enjoy everything from street food to Michelin-starred cuisine. For foodies keen to learn from those who know best, the nation’s top chefs were invited to take centre stage and cook their favourite recipes in front of a live audience, as part of the incredible ‘Chef’s Theatre.’ Launched as part of the Edinburgh Festival, it enjoyed incredible success and now tours multiple locations the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.

As the festival developed, some key ingredients were added: the famous Street Food Avenue and Feasting Tent, replete with delicious finger food from across the globe; the Children’s Theatre, where children find their taste buds and are able to try their hand at cooking; a music stage, supporting local unsigned artists, that offers live music throughout the day; and a Cake and Bake Theatre, with showstopper cakes and artisan chocolate. It really is quite the spectacle!

The community feel of the festival goes right to the heart of its management team, as it really is a family affair. As the festival grew, Sue brought in various family members to join its ever-expanding team. Her husband Jeremy drives the Foodies truck, while her daughters help her run the events: Sarah organises the Chefs Theatre, Zoe and Lucy help on the logistics and sales fronts, and Rebecca gives a hand at the London festivals. The key goal of each festival is to introduce new people to the world of great food and drink, thus expanding the local foodie community in each of the festival’s locations. By working alongside top chefs; bakers; patisserie chefs; chocolatiers; restaurants; artisan producers; distillers and brewers; it has grown into the UK’s biggest food festival and attracts over 300,000 attendees each year across its 10 summer events and two winter events. That’s a lot of cake!

Of particular note for those who have a passion for fine Scottish food and drink, is the Artisan Producers Market which features at each festival. A glittering array of Great Taste Award winners are available to shop and sample from, allowing visitors to meet artisan producers from across the country, learn their story and stock up on award winning produce. With over 120 stalls to peruse at each festival, selling everything from Seaweed Seasoning to Champagne Infused Fudge, visitors will be spoilt for choice for what to eat on the spot and what to resist (for the moment) and take home to enjoy.

Visitors to the Edinburgh Foodies Festival get the chance to meet some of Scotland’s most accomplished chefs, who take time away from their hectic schedules to entertain and educate at live culinary masterclasses. In 2016, Adam Handlin, Jacqueline O’Donnel and Mark Greenaway will be joined by an ensemble of other celebrated culinary masters; each will take to the stage to conduct live cookery demonstrations and share their knowledge at the one-of-a-kind Chef’s Theatre. It really is not to be missed!

Adam Handling

Only 27 years old, Adam is already an accomplished and celebrated chef in Scotland, having held a number of prestigious positions at top hotels and winning the accolade of Scottish Young Chef of the Year in 2011. Starting his official culinary training aged 16 as the first ever apprentice chef at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, he then went on to build upon his experience further by working in London, before heading his first brigade as Sous Chef at the Malmaison Hotel in Newcastle. He then moved back to Scotland to become the Fairmont group’s youngest ever Head Chef, at Fairmont St Andrews.

After a nine-month journey of discovery around Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam, Adam took on the role of Head Chef at St. Ermin’s Hotel in St James’s Park, where he led a team of 22. Adam Handling brings his love of Asian flavours and techniques – particularly Japanese – to his kitchen. His beautifully presented dishes start with careful sourcing of top quality, seasonal ingredients, prepared in a number of different, creative ways to enhance their inherent properties and deliver real depth of flavour and harmony.

Jacqueline O’Donnell

Jacqueline has worked alongside some of the best chefs that Scotland has to offer. She believes firmly in using the very best Scottish produce in her restaurants, and farmers and fishermen the length of Scotland supply her busy eateries – which include the famous restaurant ‘The Sisters’ in Glasgow. When she’s not busy cooking, she also works with The Scottish Federation of Chefs in encouraging women in the industry.

From a very early age she remembers being sent out to her grandmother’s garden to pull rhubarb, turn the soil for tatties or pick up apples. Her reward for this labour? A stick of this crisp, tart rhubarb with a wee ‘pokey’ (paper cup) of sugar made from newspaper. She’s sure that this is where her love of great home cooking all began.

Still rising to the challenges that the wonderful Scottish larder throws her, she never seems to tire of cooking fantastic produce from a country that so expertly grows, rears or cultivates the very best. She styles her cooking as ‘simple and Scottish’ and believes in allowing the produce to speak for itself.

Mark Greenaway

With a career beginning in Scotland in 1992, Mark then went on to gain valuable experience during a five year stint in Australia, working at some of the nation’s top establishments. On his return to Scotland, Mark continued his profession at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, Kilcamb Lodge Hotel in Strontian and The Dryburgh Abbey Hotel in the Scottish Borders. He received nationwide acclaim following the opening of his eponymous restaurant in Edinburgh in February 2011 and since then the restaurant has moved to new premises where the awards and plaudits have continued.

In April 2012 Mark represented Scotland on BBC2’s Great British Menu and appeared again in the 2013 series Great British Menu Does Comic Relief. In early 2013, Mark mentored a group of teenagers from Linlithgow Academy in Scotland as they endeavoured to launch a healthy take-away business. This was filmed for a three part documentary series that was aired on BBC2 in November 2013. Mark is a weekly guest on STV’s The Fountainbridge Show and writes a weekly recipe column for the Edinburgh Evening News.

Visitor Information

The Edinburgh Foodies Festival takes place each August. For further information, includ- ing festival dates and ticket booking, please visit the website.

Foodies Festival
Inverleith Park, Arboretum Road,
Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ
www.foodiesfestival.com