Yesterday, Adam and I headed to the culinary haven that is Bolton Food and Drink Festival. For those of you that don’t know, this event is hosted in Bolton town centre every August bank holiday weekend and is an important date in any self-respecting foodies calendar, featuring live music, entertainment, celebrity and regional chef demonstrations, food, drink and craft stalls and various other activities to enjoy.
We only had one day free to attend this time, however, still managed to pack plenty in. Despite the dreadful weather (did you know that it rains quite a bit here’ Up North’? When the sunshine comes out, we get all disorientated and wonder what the big ball of light in the sky is), there were still plenty of people perusing the stalls and demos dotted around.
First up for us was an all-singing, all-dancing cookery demonstration in the main tent by Ainsley Harriott. Personally, I’m a big fan of Ainsley’s, having watched ‘Ready Steady Cook’ religiously back in the day so was looking forward to seeing him in action.
He created chicken, chorizo, halloumi and couscous dishes, along with a mango pudding and they all looked insanely moreish – I wish I’d have gotten the recipe but it could have been somewhat awkward (like I’d be standing up mid-demo shouting, ‘Hey Ainsley babes, email me that recipe later, yeah?’) so I shall try to improvise at home.
He invited a fellow guest on stage, Neil, who admitted that he wasn’t much of home cook – and his partner, Kelly, agreed! Ainsley’s dance moves and audience interaction added a whole new level of fun to the event and we’ll be making a point of seeing him again next time.
After a mooch around the markets and making a pit stop for snacks, we went for a coffee and found ourselves sat behind Neil and Kelly (the couple who’d ended up starring in Ainsley Harriott’s earlier demonstration). Adam, being slightly more extroverted than I am, introduced himself and they admitted that he wasn’t the first person to do so since their unintentional appearance at the festival.
We sent them over some pictures and videos that we’d taken during their moment of fame and, although they joked about having to move away from the area after becoming local celebs themselves, I think it’s safe to assume that they were secretly pretty chuffed with the whole thing and hopefully, it means Neil will now be a dab hand in the kitchen!
The evening consisted of Sunday Club back in the main tent, featuring a live comedy cook-off between Simon Wood of WOOD Manchester and Andrew Nutter of Nutter’s Resturant, all compered by comedian, Steve Royle. Adam and I took our seats by the main stage, with Rachel from DollyBakes and Louise from I Love Manchester (and their respective plus ones) for company.
We actually sat with Rachel at the Gala Dinner last year and have stayed in touch since so it was nice to get reacquainted and we’ve made a pact to meet up again soon, rather than wait until Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2019!
Our table was already laden with Aldi cheeses, salad, meats and more; the essential tools to build our own burgers. There was a competition to see who could get creative and, as you already know, Adam takes this stuff rather seriously! He piled on the garnishes but alas, was defeated by other clever creations.
I’m still having issues with eating so nibbled on the nacho and sweetcorn sides as the rest of our table tucked in (yeah I know – going to a food festival when I can’t eat solid food properly isn’t big nor clever but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that to stop me from missing out on the fun!)
The chefs were each presented with a surprise bag of ingredients a la ‘Ready Steady Cook’ and had 30 minutes to create a masterpiece whilst Steve kept us all thoroughly entertained. I can’t entirely remember who made what in the end (nothing do with the gin and ciders I’d consumed, I’m sure) but I do recall there were pigeon, figs and brioche involved.
Once they’d finished, three people from the audience (including Louise) embarked on tasting and judging the dishes. After a short period of deliberation, Andrew Nutter was crowned the victorious winner. Well, he DID make about 6,000 courses in the end (or five, whatever). His celebratory gloating soon came to an abrupt end during the ‘Thee Egg Omelette Challange’ once he discovered that his eggs had, in fact, been hard-boiled, making his task at hand just a little tricker!
The evening then moved on to a Q&A session with Andrew and Simon and the topics were most definitely NSFW. The behind-the-scenes anecdotes shared by Andrew were eye-opening, to put it mildly but it was undeniably entertaining. What happens at Sunday Club, stays at Sunday Club…
It concluded with Steve juggling eggs on the Aldi teams table but fortunately for them, he’s a bit of pro so didn’t slip up. Thank you again to the hardworking team at Bolton Council for hosting a brilliant event and inviting us along. See you next year!