THE first Henley on Food festival has been hailed a success by organisers — and is expected to return next year.
More than 4,500 people packed into Shiplake College over the weekend for two days of talks, interactive cookery sessions and panel discussions involving celebrity chefs and local restaurateurs.
There were activities for children, a market selling food and homewares, a riverside lawn area with a bar and a street food section.
Click here to see more photographs of the event and the speakers.
The event was run under the auspices of the successful Henley Literary Festival and was designed to combine food and books.
Co-founder Harriet Reed-Ryan said: “It was a beautifully genteel English festival with a modern twist and the feedback has been very positive.
“There were a couple of areas with room for improvement but for the first year we could not ask for more. We are very happy.
“Some festivals can be a bit generic but we hand-picked the stalls so it did not feel like that. For example, the ice cream stall was all natural.
“It was a spectacular setting so thank you to Shiplake College for supporting us.
“The rooms for the talks were busy and the speakers were saying how lovely the audiences were.
“In the first year it’s hard to have expectations but we’re delighted with how it went.”
She said that she and co-founders Kate Lynas and John Kemp hoped to stage the festival again next year, adding: “After the success of this year, it would be silly not to continue. We want it to grow each year, like the literary festival has.”
Saturday’s speakers included MasterChef
presenter John Torode and his partner Lisa Faulkner, who won the celebrity version of the show in 2012, and Great British Bake Off
winner Frances Quinn.
Chef and Henley Standard
food writer Paul Clerehugh hosted a panel discussion called “my most memorable meal” with local chefs Shaun Dickens, from Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse in Station Road, Henley, and Ryan Simpson, from Orwell’s in Shiplake, and food writer Kay Plunkett-Hogge.
Mr Dickens, a protégé of Raymond Blanc, gave a demonstration on how to cook salmon dish on the menu at his restaurant.
Anthony Worrall Thompson, who runs the Greyhound pub restaurant in Peppard, also gave a talk.
Other speakers included chefs Nicole Pisani, Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, David Bez, Cyrus Todiwala, Jose Pizarro and Pip McCormac.
Topics included barbecuing, healthy eating, a history of cake, soup and breakfasts.
In the market place were demonstrations by main sponsor Magimix and vendors selling homewares and food. There was also a “dining street” with a selection of street food such as crepes, sausages and Thai treats.
A number of local businesses had stands including Henley’s Bell Bookshop, Local Larder, from Wargrave, the Real Organic Food Company, from Watlington, and Honeys of Henley. Amanda Hussey, who runs Local Larder, said: “It’s great for us to be able to showcase our products, which all come from suppliers within 30 miles. It’s fantastic to be able to promote that to people. I really take my hat off to Kate and Harriet. They have done an amazing job.”
David Morgan, who owns the Real Organic Food Company and lives in Remenham, said: “There used to a food festival in town but it got too big.
“This event is absolutely great and it’s nice for me to come back to Shiplake College because my son used to go to school here. It’s a really good location.” Families sat on the grass in the sun and there were children’s activities run by the River & Rowing Museum as well as storytelling, face painting and cookery classes.
Visitor Nicky Liddon-Horncastle, from Caversham, said: “I’ve been to lots of interesting talks and it’s a lovely setting. John Torode and Lisa Faulker were both very friendly and human. They came across as being very passionate about their subject.”
Laura Vann, of Vicarage Road, Henley, said: “My sister was selling some food so we came to support her.It has been brilliant. Henley needs more things like this. ” Chris Eames, from Caversham, who brought his children, Emily and Chloe, said: “It has been great for the kids. They’ve been to the cookery classes and made some cheesecake — that was good.
“I’ve been to a couple of talks, including one on barbecuing that was good.” Jean Gimblett, from Wargrave, who was there with her grandchildren, said: “It’s interesting to see all the things going on and it’s a beautiful setting.”
Car parking donations and a Sue Ryder stall raised £2,077 for the charity.