The Foodies Festival largely delivers what it promises: ‘Artisan producers’ - check; ‘Michelin-starred chefs cooking live’ - check; ‘the best in fine food and drink’ – probably about as close to the truth as can be given that this fine fare is peddled from the back of shacks out in the middle of the field.
However, there are certainly areas where the Foodies Festival lacks vital ingredients. Given that all the fare on offer comes at a premium atop the entry fee of £15, any suggestion of sampling ‘tasty treats’ certainly seems to lack the ‘treat’ element. Whilst it is of course to be expected with a food festival that traders will tout their worthy wares to gastrophiles aplenty, the fact that there is no alimentary indulgence for anyone with no more cash to splash post-entry feels rather unfair.
Indeed, in light of this steep monetary demand, the festival’s self-description as ‘a fabulous and fun family day out’ seems to be more a coded clue to the need for disposable income than a genuine selling point. This idea is supported by a festival setup that is decidedly unfun for children: Whilst the ‘children’s cookery theatre’ is certainly a neat and novel idea and the large open space before the music stage offers a place for a run-around, the fact that the rest of the fest is packed back-to-back with small stalls offering cramped walkways and little-to-no other entertainment for the wee ones means that families would do just as well to remain outside the enclosure and spend the fifteen bob elsewhere.
There are certainly pleasant elements to the festival. This foodie community is most engrossing when vendors allow their company’s personality to shine through in the presentation of their wares. Sucre Coeur, for example – a little baking business whose biscuits are iced and sliced into the shapes of breasts, braziers and all unmentionable garments – simultaneously show sweetness, social conscience and a sense of humour. In contrast, Cordero BBQ is unapologetic about its carnivorous savagery, proudly displaying the lacerated frames of its barbequed beasts in a manner both honest and enthusiastic about the human appetite. Mischief is also elicited by the near-parody of the Galvin Brasserie de Luxe – a mobile scran van with black-tie waiters, fine white tablecloths and a ‘please wait here to be seated’ sign afore the cordoned-off entrance.
All in all, the Food Festival does an acceptable job of presenting quality products and a handful of interesting show. However, the fact that the privilege of even deciding to participate in these activities is itself reserved for those with fifteen princely pounds to fork out and the fact that it largely fails to deliver on family fun makes it difficult to recommend. Maybe it was the horseradish in my bloody Mary (although I think my server forgot to add it), but I certainly left with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.