SUNGLASSES and picnic rugs were swapped for raincoats and wellies, but that didn’t stop visitors enjoying this year’s Leamington Food and Drink Festival.
Thousands of foodies descended on the town for the tenth annual showcase of the best in local and regional food and drink.
The event attracted a mouth-watering array of exhibitors to mirror the town’s reputation for a diverse range of award-winning bars and restaurants.
Food ranged from gourmet marshmallows and wild beaver pie, to jerk chicken and Mexican street food, all washed down with a selection of local beers and toe-tapping live music.
The Live Kitchen hosted a feast of local chefs demonstrating their culinary skills over the two days, but the spotlight was on the amateurs on Sunday, with Aubrey Allen’s Home Cook of the Year competition.
The competition saw three finalists serve a three-course meal to judges Russell Allen, managing director of Aubrey Allen, Clive Fretwell, executive chef at Brasserie Blanc, and last year’s winner Michael Abell.
Announcing Sophie Hyam as winner, Clive said: “Fabulous flavours from everyone. Fabulous combinations and textures. But on the sheer technical skill, unanimously Sophie.”
Sophie, from Coventry, who was a finalist in last year’s contest, said: “I had to win – I’m so competitive! I’m over the moon. I practiced so much my husband probably ate lamb for about five weeks!”
The Great Leamington Bake Off for young and older bakers featured tray bakes, chocolate cakes, tarts, celebration cakes and new for this year, bread.
Having won the Celebration Cake category last year, Susann Gallion retained the crown with a stunning rustic watering can as the centrepiece.
The Warwick resident said: “I didn’t expect to win again but I’m delighted. I only just did it the night before and it took me about six hours to make. It’s my thing – I relax when I bake!”
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “It’s been a fantastic two days and a more than fitting celebration of a decade of the Leamington food and drink festival.
“We had torrential rain on Saturday and a river of water running into our information tent at one point, but we managed to clear it relatively quickly and then the sun came out again which was amazing.”