Another jam-packed food and drink festival attracts thousands to Woking

5 September 2017

Foodies and families from across the South East turned out in their thousands for the Woking Food and Drink Festival over the weekend [Friday 1 to Sunday 3 September 2017], proving that come rain or shine, there’s always an appetite for excellent cuisine.

The jam-packed event stretched across Woking town centre, with exhibitor tents extending from Commercial Way through to Gloucester Square, and events taking place in Tante Marie Culinary Academy, The Lightbox, Market Walk, Jubilee Square and the WWF-UK Living Planet Centre. Adding some extra flavour, professional musicians dotted around the town provided an uplifting soundtrack as visitors moved between the stalls sampling and purchasing from over 80 trade stalls selling artisan products.

An undoubted highlight of the event, the Tante Marie Culinary Academy Theatre played host to a huge selection of top culinary experts and treated a packed auditorium of spectators to demonstrations of a wide array of sweet and savoury dishes. Amongst a back-to-back line-up of towering icons of the food industry, giving avid audiences the chance to learn the tricks of the trade, were Great British Bake Off semi-finalist and winner Chetna Makan, MasterChef finalist trio Three Girls Cook (Alison O'Reilly, Giovanna Ryan and Lorna Robertson), Michelin master and international restaurateur Bruno Loubet, and rising chef and author Olia Hercules.

Sharing Italian cookery top tips including unravelling the secret of great ravioli, world-renowned chef Antonio Carluccio OBE was back this year to give Al Crisci MBE, Founder of The Clink Restaurant, a hand in the kitchen, as well as meeting fans and signing books on Saturday. At the event, he paid compliments to the festival and to the town, saying: “I have fond memories of Woking because I used to come many years ago for picking mushrooms. Now it’s completely different with this event here, the food festival, which is just wonderful.

“[This year] I am trying to do good deeds for The Clink. The Clink is for ex-convicts who are learning to cook; they do a very good job. I hope people enjoyed everything here [at the Food Festival].”

Performing to an audience at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, in a show over-flowing with energy and fun, CBeebie’s Katy Ashworth gave excited young festival-goers the chance to shout, laugh and enjoy her live stage show.

Attending the event, Cllr Mark Pengelly, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture and Community Development, said: “Woking Food and Drink Festival is without a doubt one of the calendar highlights for the town, attracting gastronomes of all ages from far and wide to soak up the festival atmosphere and sample the excellent wares on offer.

“This year we saw yet another remarkable programme of food and drink experts and celebrities demonstrating their remarkable skill and knowledge, as well as a superb array of the finest cuisine on sale, much of it from the Surrey area and surrounds. The new attractions, including the Bite-size Talks, Meet the Producer and Expert sessions and the Cellar Wines and Deli Zone, were excellent additions to the day and I hope that the producers and experts who kindly gave up their time to visit, will return next year to enlighten and inform us once more.

“We are waiting with baited breath to hear the results of the Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards. Will the festival win the Best Local Food Event award for a third year in a row? We hope so!

“I am very proud to see the festival growing from strength-to-strength and I am already looking forward to what next year’s event has in store! Well done to everyone who was involved in its organisation.”

The festival’s visitors are invited to let the organisers know what they thought by filling out an online survey that can be found on the homepage of the festival’s website. Completed submissions will be entered in to a free prize draw to win a £250 giftcard for Woking Shopping. The closing date for entries is Friday 29 September 2017; terms and conditions apply.

View the event’s photo highlights here.

Woking Food and Drink Festival 2017 was sponsored by: Woking Shopping, Tante Marie Culinary Academy, Cellar Wines and Celebrate Woking, and professionally supported by Dreaming Fish Productions and Headline Design and Print.