THE COUNTOWN is underway to the highlight of Leamington’s culinary calendar.
The Royal Leamington Spa Food and Drink Festival is expected to attract over 25,000 foodies over the weekend of September 5 and 6.
More than 150 producers and retailers will be showcasing the best in local and regional food at the free-to-attend festival returning to the Royal Pump Room Gardens.
Local amateur chefs will also be in the spotlight all weekend with the first ever ‘Leamington Bake Off’ with Sweet As Cake Emporium on Saturday, and the return of Aubrey Allen’s ‘Home Cook of the Year’ on Sunday following its successful debut last year.
Entries are still open for the new contest to find the town’s best amateur bakers with age categories for five to 11-year-olds, 12 to 16-year-olds and over 16s.
Jenny Hudson, chef director and founder of Sweet As Cake Emporium, Peter Knibb, head chef and proprietor of Restaurant 23, and Laura Hamilton, chef and proprietor of Queans Restaurant, will make up the judging panel, with prizes to be awarded from all three.
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of organisers BID Leamington, said: “We’ve had a flurry of entries especially with the Great British Bake Off returning to our TV screens and we’re urging other home bakers not to miss out on the chance of a starring role at the festival.
“We’re asking people to enter in advance online and then bring their baking to the Festival Information Tent by 12noon on the opening day of the festival with the three best bakers to be crowned at 3pm.”
Michelin star chefs Adam Bennett, from The Cross at Kenilworth, and Martyn Pearn, from Oscar’s French Bistro in Leamington, will judge the live cook-off of finalists for the Aubrey Allen ‘Home Cook of the Year’ title in the Live Cookery Theatre on the Sunday from noon.
The weekend will also include favourites the BBQ Masterclass, Make & Bake Kids Cookery School and the popular Taste Trail of eateries in the town centres.
Fifteen restaurants, including seven that are new for this year, will be taking part in the Taste Trail with limited tickets priced at £1 per person available each day from 10am at the Festival Information Tent.
The BBQ Masterclass area will include a tea demonstration from Ginger Ace, tempering chocolate with Choc n Roll, butchery demonstrations with Aubrey Allen and sushi masterclasses with Yo Sushi.
There will also be live music on the bandstand – including Gebby Eaton, The Kale-y Collective, The WapWaps, Jazulu Jazz Trio, Matt Bates and The Rock Bottoms featuring Dan Sealey and Adam Barry from Merrymouth.
Visit www.leamingtonfoodfestival.co.uk for the full festival programme, which runs from 10am to 6pm on both days,
and entry forms for the Leamington Bake Off.
Admission to the festival is free.