THIS weekend (April 30 and May 1) sees South Oxfordshire’s newest festival, Henley on Food, take place in the stunning setting of Shiplake College, writes Tom Ryan
With two days packed full with expert demos, a wide range of stalls, big-name talks and free family fun, there is something on the menu for everyone.
The idea for Henley on Food came from co-founders Kate Lynas and Harriet Reed’s experience of working on the Henley Literary Festival.
Attendance at the annual autumnal celebration of the written word has swelled by 50 per cent in the last three years — bringing national media attention to the town from the Daily Mail
, the Telegraph
and the Times
, as well as the BBC.
“Not only are cookbooks constantly topping the book charts but we noticed how popular food-related events were proving at the literary festival — with full houses for the likes of Ella Woodward, Prue Leith and the Hemsley sisters,” explained Kate Lynas.
Doors open on both Saturday and Sunday at 9.30am. Roamer tickets — priced £7 for a day, £12 for a weekend pass and free to under-12s accompanied by an adult — grant access to five festival zones.
Located outside, in Shiplake College’s impressive grounds, Dining Street
is the place to go to grab a bite to eat — with options ranging from upmarket London barbecue restaurant Ember Yard, Supreme Sausages and vegetarian Thai street food to organic ice lollies, Mediterranean snacks, crêpes and Café Spice Namasté’s Indian-European fusion.
Over in the Market Place
, take your pick from 20 stalls covering everything from cheese and ceramics to bread and brownies, as well as an international touch with Japanese knives and treats from Cyprus. There will also be advice from nutritionalist Ruth Green and fresh pasta-making demos from the Caldesis, who will also be selling salads. For children of all ages, the Thinking Space
will host fun crafts and activities, as well as a free storytelling session with Hugless Douglas and an interactive Mr Panda event with award-winning author and illustrator Steve Antony.
Meanwhile, the Smart Raspberry Cookery School will be teaching five-to-15-year-olds how to make a Mediterranean tart and a banana cheesecake, with classes throughout the weekend. On the banks of the Thames, the River Lawn
is the place to treat yourself. Grab a glass of champagne at the Finest Fizz bar or a cask ale at the Rebellion Beer tent. Take some time out at the Hotel du Vin seafood bar and “meet the makers” at the Local Larder tent.
Younger visitors can enjoy games and stories at Mr Toad’s Picnic, courtesy of the River & Rowing Museum. And Speakers’ Corner
is the venue for free, bitesize talks on everything from nutrition to how to build a booming food business from home with the founder of Gower Cottage Brownies. Inside the Great Hall
and the Cooked Kitchen Theatre
are ticketed talks and Q&As (priced £5 to £7, alongside free demos from Ryan Simpson of Orwells, Shaun Dickens and Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head).
Highlights include MasterChef
’s John Torode, Madeleine Shaw, Cyrus Todiwala, Bake Off
winner Frances Quinn and Antony Worrall Thompson. And each day concludes with a special evening event — a six-course supper club on Saturday and the Seven O’Clock Wine Club on Sunday.
“After lots of hard work and the fantastic support of our headline sponsor Magimix, we can’t wait to open our doors on Saturday morning to the special venue of Shiplake College for what will be a wonderful weekend, come rain or shine,” said Harriet Reed.
For more information and to book tickets, visit the festival website at www.henleyonfood.com