PREVIEW: Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival at Snape Maltings, September 28 - 29

PUBLISHED: 09:41 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 06 September 2019

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival


Tessa Allingham previews this year’s Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival, September 28 & 29 at Snape Maltings

Normally on a Saturday lunchtime, you'd find Jess Shadbolt in the kitchen of her SoHo neighbourhood restaurant, King, feeding the people of Manhattan the comforting French-Italian likes of bollito misto of guinea hen, cotechino and brisket with lentils, or grilled scallops with bitter puntarelle shoots, or salt-baked wild trout with parsley sauce.

On Saturday September 28, however, the British chef has a lunchtime date on the Tiptree stage at the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival.

There, she'll take local ingredients to create dishes with the flavours of her beloved southern France and Italy, and share the sort of rustic, rural cooking that values good ingredients, seasonality and simplicity. Mixed in with the cooking will no doubt be a lively story or two about running a restaurant in New York!

Aldeburgh Food & Drink FestivalAldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

Jess is a Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork alumna, former chef at the River Café, London, and has strong family ties to the Suffolk coast. "For me, food is about bringing people together round a table, about conviviality, and about bringing good food to a wide audience," she says.

"As chefs, we can get very caught up in incredible ingredients, but what's important is for it to be accessible and enjoyable. In New York, there's often a 'loudness' to dishes, lots going on, lots of complex flavours and textures. In the UK, these days, it's more about taking things off the plate - that's the style that chimes with me."

It's this same convivial, easy-going style that Kenny Tutt embraces at Pitch, the restaurant he opened in his home town, Worthing, in May. Grab a seat at the festival's East of England Co-op stage on Saturday afternoon to hear all about the reigning BBC MasterChef champion's journey from home cook and bank manager to TV competition winner and chef-patron, and his determination to create a restaurant that will bring people together around no-fuss good food.

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It's the sort of place for herb-roasted chicken and spring vegetables, or lamb with kale, Jersey Royals and salsa verde, or hand-dived scallops with smoked cauliflower and pancetta.

The democratisation of food is at the root of Joe Hurd's approach too, and what he calls 'blue collar cooking'. The Calabrian-born, Yorkshire-raised chef, supper club host and presenter has no time for time-consuming elaborate techniques, because food is about gathering, sharing and fun.

If that's your style too why not kick off your festival weekend with a Saturday morning hands-on masterclass where he will show just how easy it is to make delicious fresh pasta. Jo Pratt, co-owner of The Gorgeous Kitchen at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2, TV cook and prolific writer, will do the same with seafood on the Tiptree stage on Saturday afternoon.

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Or you could book a place at her Sunday afternoon masterclass and go home with the secrets of a tasty seafood scotch egg, an utterly egalitarian recipe from her latest book, The Flexible Pescatarian.

Access to demonstrations is included in the cost of entry to the festival (£9 for one day, £16 for both).

Masterclasses carry an additional cost and must be booked in advance. The 14th Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival is at Snape Maltings September 28-29 with Fringe events happening throughout East Suffolk around the time of the festival.

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For more details and to book, go to

Taste the world

Top chefs, cooks and writers will whisk audiences off on a world tour of taste with demos and masterclasses throughout the weekend.

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Look out for Chetna Makan's fresh, healthy take on Indian food when the cook and writer shares recipes from her latest book, Chetna's Healthy Indian, and proves that Indian food can be as straightforward and wholesome as it is tasty.

Selina Periampillai will conjure up the flavours of beguiling Indian Ocean islands, leading you through what she calls in her book, Island Kitchen, the "thread of flavour" (think vanilla, cardamom, chilli and nutmeg) that links Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles with tiny Reunion and the string of Maldivian atolls.

Don't miss the ebullience of Kwoklyn Wan, chef and author of the Chinese Takeaway Cookbook who will open up the trade secrets of those Chinese takeaway dishes we all love in what will be a fun Sunday session - you'll have sweet and sour chicken, egg-fried rice and beef and black bean sauce on the table at home in minutes!

Scenes from Aldeburgh Food & Drink FestivalScenes from Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

Thomasina Miers, founder of the Wahaca chain of Mexican restaurants is a familiar face at the festival, and her lively demo of favourite Mexican dishes will be hugely popular.

The same goes for another festival returner, Tim Anderson, who will share his love of regional Japanese food, captured in his 2017 book Japaneasy, on the East of England Co-op stage and teach you the intricacies of making gyoza.

Meanwhile, for inspiration that will whisk you back to summer holidays in Cyprus where meals revolve around honey and halloumi, olive oil and octopus, don't miss Cypriot cook Georgina Hayden who will share stories of family life where food was centre-stage, and shares the secrets of dishes from her new book, Taverna.

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Festival highlights

This year, Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival promises a weekend stuffed with fabulous food adventures, from tastings and demonstrations to have-a-go masterclasses.

There's an impressive line-up of international and national chefs and food writers, as well as a some well known, favourite local chefs, including our Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards Chef of the Year Luke Bailey (Salthouse Harbour Hotel), and Young Chef of the Year Moraine Pepper (The Northgate).

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Other winners will also be there including turkey producers PA Mobbs of Cratfield (Field to Fork), and Fen Farm Dairy (Food Hero).


A daily programme of events in the riverside tent, where you can discover how some of the region's best-known drinks are produced and served and get top tips from the experts - an exciting cocktail of drinks-based talks, tastings, demos and discussions.

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The Hillfarm Family Meadow is the place to head for fun and games over the Festival weekend. As well as our gigantic combine, we have toy tractors, face-painting, hands on kids cooking and rapeseed oil pressing.

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With public interest in healthy, ethical eating at such a high, it's no wonder that wild produce from our skies, seas and land features on the best menus in Suffolk - or that the Wild Suffolk area of the Festival, now in its third year, is as popular as it is.

Supported by the Taste of Game, the Wild Suffolk theatre is a place to meet hugely engaging author and one of the UK's leading game chefs, José Souto, and the likes of CJ Jackson, head of Billingsgate Seafood School who will be talking seasonal shellfish with local chef and teacher, Emma Crowhurst and seafood ambassador, Mike Warner.

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David Grimwood, passionate conservationist, champion of country cooking and chef patron of The Froize, Chillesford, will demonstrate quick and easy partridge dishes, and Emma will return to the stage to whip up a delicious meal using squirrel.

At other times, Joey O'Hare's 'vegcentric' cooking is sure to inspire you as much as Vivia Bamford's encyclopaedic knowledge of wild plants and the folkloric stories that cling to them will amaze.

Pick up some stunning fresh lobster and oysters, or game from the Glemham Estate to take home, sip on a Hedgerow Cordial, and be inspired by the wealth of pulses grown by pioneering Hodmedod's, and the deliciousness of Fen Farm's raw butter and cheese.

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And when you feel hungry, head to the pop-up restaurant for lobster and some Pinney's oysters shucked by none other than the Chiltern Firehouse's head of oysters (yes, that really is his title) and author of Oyster Isles, Bobby Groves.

Have a go at something new, improve your skills, there are masterclasses throughout the two days.

- Chocolate Tasting with Pump Street Chocolate

- Greek Stuffed Flatbread with Georgina Hayden

- Taste of Pitch with Kenny Tutt

- Indian Ocean Island Cooking with Selina Periampillai

- Healthy Indian with Chetna Makan

- A Pasta Odyssey Masterclass with Joe Hurd

- The Joyful Home Cook with Rosie Birkett

- Hanetsuki Gyoza! with Tim Anderson

- Flexible Pescatarian with Jo Pratt

Book at

Throughout October there is a whole range of food related events going on including walks, dinners, family activities, special menus, meet the producers, special events, farm walks and workshops.

You can go on a Munchy Seeds factory tour, have a laugh George Egg's Movable Feast, the stand-up comedian who cooks, sizzle along to Framlingham Sausage Fest, there's Imaginative Traveller's Imaginative Feast, Film Feast Suffolk, a Grape and Grain Supper, farm tours at Maple Farm, a Turkey Trot at PA Mobbs in Cratfield (Suffolk Food and Drink Awards Field to Fork winners), go on a Bee Safari, or a Shrimping Safari and lots more.

Information at

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