Businesses in Seaham are backing a new food festival which is set to attract thousands of people to the seaside town this weekend.
Seaham Food Festival will serve up more than 100 food and drink stalls, cookery demonstrations by celebrity chefs and a tempting mixture of workshops, children’s activities and live music by the seafront on Saturday, 8 June and Sunday, 9 June.
The free Durham County Council event is expected to bring similar economic benefits as Bishop Auckland Food Festival, which was attended by almost 30,000 people in April and is now a key date in the UK’s culinary calendar.
The decision to stage a food festival in Seaham has been embraced by businesses in the town, including Seaham Hall, where chefs are passionate about showcasing the region’s finest produce.
On the Saturday, festival-goers can enjoy an insight into the authentic and vibrant cookery style of John Carlo Arrojo, head chef at the five-star hotel’s Ozone Restaurant. John Carlo, known as JC, will demonstrate how to make a variety of mouth-watering pan Asian dishes including surf and turf teriyaki, lobster in tamarind sauce and mango salad.
“I’m excited to be part of the first ever Seaham Food Festival,” said JC. “It’s going to give Seaham a real boost. We know what a rich area this is for foodies, but others need to know, and this will spread the word.
“I love that the festival has such an international flavour, with regional street food not just from the North East but from across the globe. My cookery style is quite theatrical, so having a platform to perform – and hopefully inspire – is fantastic.”
The cookery theatre, located on Terrace Green on the seafront, will also host demonstrations by celebrity chefs, including BBC Master Chef co-host John Torode on the Saturday and ITV This Morning’s Phil Vickery on the Sunday. Chef, author, television presenter, Seafish Ambassador and food campaigner Rachel Green will also take to the stage on Saturday, while The Crabstock Boys will prepare simple dishes using local shellfish on both days.
Carl Thompson, of Lickety Split Creamery, an award-winning 1950s-themed ice cream parlour in Seaham, believes the impressive line-up, combined with the large variety of stalls and activities, will attract large crowds to the town.
Carl, who opened his business ten years ago, said: “This is the largest event of its kind to ever be held in Seaham and the more I learn about the festival, the more convinced I am that this is a great event for the town. It’s being organised in a way that it will not only benefit the traders, but the businesses based in the town too. It will also build on Seaham’s reputation as a culinary destination which is something we are all committed to.”
Councillor Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism at Durham County Council, said: “Seaham Food Festival is more than a fantastic day out for all of the family. It provides an opportunity for independent producers to reach a greater audience, while the increased visitor numbers will boost the profits of local businesses. We are delighted to be working alongside Seaham businesses to shine a spotlight on the town and promote our beautiful heritage coast as the place to be.”
Other Seaham-based business that have embraced the event include The Lamp Room coffee house and bistro, which will be cooking up fresh seafood dishes from a stand at the festival, and Seaham Harbour Marina.
Lisa Simpson, manager of the marina, which is home to a variety of small businesses, is also backing the festival
“In the five years since the marina opened we’ve seen visitor numbers in Seaham rise to 500,000 a year,” she said. “Seaham Food Festival will be another opportunity to attract new visitors and demonstrate what we have on offer.”
As well as more than 100 food stalls and cookery demonstrations, the festival will feature children’s baking workshops by Little Dots Dishes. The sessions, which take place at 10.30am and 2.30pm on the Saturday and 12.30pm on the Sunday, cost £6.50 per child and will teach youngsters how to bake healthy treats.
Grown-ups partial to a G&T can also play Gingo, a refreshing twist on the quintessential pastime of bingo. Sessions take place at 12pm, 2pm and 3.30pm on the Saturday and 12pm and 2pm on the Sunday and cost £12, including artisan gin tasting and a talk by local distillery owners.
To book Little Dots Dishes or Gingo tickets and to stay up to date with the latest festival news, visit www.seahamfoodfestival.co.uk and follow @SeahamFoodFest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Seaham Food Festival is part of #Durham19, a year-long campaign led by Visit County Durham, the council and other partners to celebrate the many cultural events taking place across the county this year. To find out more, visit www.durham.gov.uk/durham19