Now making its third appearance on Hove Lawns, the Foodies Festival is steadily becoming an established name on the Fringe circuit. With names such as Gennaro Contaldo on the roster, the festival is certainly one of the most high-profile events this month, a status reflected in the £12 ticket price. Although my own experience was unfortunately hampered by miserable weather - conditions which resulted in a much lower turnout than expected - the amount on offer was impressive.
The festival is split into different sections, including: the Chefs Theatre, where you can watch Michelin-starred chefs cook live on stage; the Drinks Theatre, where you are guided through the tastes of various alcohols; and the Chocolate Theatre, with sweet delights galore. There is also a Children’s Cookery Theatre, if you are eager to kindle your kids’ culinary talents (or simply need something to keep them occupied).
The bulk of the festival, however, is comprised of pop-up restaurants and sampling stations, with various food businesses competing for your attention. As you would expect, the quality here is variable: tasters ranged from a wonderful sticky toffee cheese (yes, cheese) to an - umm - “dubious” smoked mackerel pâté. There are not nearly enough samples to fill you up, though - unless you have a remarkably small appetite - so investment in something more substantial will likely be necessary.
One of the highlights of my visit was a South African wine tasting. The wine was lovely, of course - split evenly across white and red - but what made the experience so noteworthy was the lively commentary of esteemed wine critic Charles Metcalfe. Equipped with an upper-class drawl and a slight eccentricity, Mr. Metcalfe suited the role perfectly, and he peppered his speech with entertaining anecdotes of South Africa and its ‘sensational beauty’.
To get the most out of your money at the Foodies Festival, it’s important to arrive early. What you’re paying for is not so much the samples but the performances and workshops that run throughout the day, and most of these are finished by 5 o’clock. It was a shame that my visit was clouded by an overcast sky, but the potential on offer was clear. If you’re interested not only in food but in food culture - and you have the budget to boot - here’s something to get your teeth into.