One of the North East’s most popular food festivals has announced its first line up of celebrity chefs, as organisers prepare to welcome foodies back to Bishop Auckland this spring.
Bishop Auckland Food Festival will be returning to its April date after taking place in October last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Durham County Council-run festival, which will decorate Bishop Auckland town centre with delicious food and fantastic entertainment on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 April, has launched its countdown with the first announcement of celebrity chefs who will be making star appearances at the event.
The weekend-long event is also a key part of County Durham’s current bid to become UK City of Culture 2025, showcasing the major cultural events already on offer in the county and how the culture of food can bring people together.
First to appear on the cookery stage is Great British Bake Off favourite, Crystelle Pereira.
Born in London to Kenyan born, Portuguese-Goan parents, 26-year-old Crystelle loves sharing recipes from her upbringing and stole hearts on Great British Bake Off on Channel 4 and Netflix USA in 2021.
With her short Reels and TikToks on social media which amass hundreds of thousands of views, Crystelle has a loyal following of both UK and US audiences.
Speaking four languages and having spent the past few years working in a top finance firm, there is not much Crystelle can’t do, and she will be showing off her cooking talents to visitors at the festival on Saturday.
Meat-free and full of flavour
Joining Crystelle on Saturday’s stage will be vegan chef Matt Pritchard, who is using his passion for food to show how people can eat healthily and sustainably.
Formerly known as the front man of MTV’s Dirty Sanchez, Matt left his pranking days behind for his love of vegan food, health and fitness.
He released his debut vegan cookbook Dirty Vegan in December 2018, described by Waitrose magazine as having universal appeal. Coinciding with the book going on sale, Matt released a TV series of the same name, which premiered on BBC1 Wales to wide acclaim and featured him cooking a variety of exciting dishes to win over the Welsh public.
Following the brand’s success, Matt’s second cookbook Dirty Vegan: Another Bite was released at the end of 2019, soon followed by his second instalment of the Dirty Vegan TV series on BBC Wales in January 2020.
Inspirational and achievable
Bishop Auckland Food Festival is also delighted to welcome chef, author, content creator and TV presenter John Whaite, who recently made it the final of Strictly Come Dancing alongside his professional partner Johannes Radebe.
John also won the third series of The Great British Bake Off, and runs his own cookery school, John Whaite’s Kitchen, set in the heart of rural Lancashire.
Since June 2020, John has appeared twice weekly cooking inspirational and achievable recipes on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch.
His fifth book, A Flash in The Pan, was published in August 2019. It follows previous popular titles such as Comfort, which was chosen as a Book of the Year by BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme, and Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients – his first non-baking cookery book.
John is also known for his beautiful food photography and design which is featured throughout all his work in publishing and on his very popular Instagram feed. John has also written regularly for The Daily Telegraph and Delicious magazine.
On Sunday, Leicester-born Chigs Parmar, who won over audiences and demonstrated his passion for food on Channel 4’s recent series of Great British Bake Off will take to the festival’s cookery theatre.
A self-taught baker and a huge foodie, Chigs won star baker twice on the show – as well as two coveted handshakes from Paul Hollywood.
After only learning to bake during the first coronavirus lockdown, Chigs went on to reach the Bake Off final, attracting a large following with his down to earth and relatable personality.
Having never thought he would get so far, Chigs now wants to inspire people to take up new hobbies and do something they love.
To continue Sunday’s festivities, Bishop Auckland Food Festival is excited to welcome back local favourite Mike Bartley.
After appearing on Masterchef 2021, Bishop-born Mike has gone on to be involved in a whirlwind of cooking enterprises including hosting exclusive private dining evenings and spending time in two Michelin star restaurants.
He has also launched a luxury three-course meal for two Dine @ Home box, available across the North East, and has been working with the Veterans Hub in Newton Aycliffe to teach veterans essential cooking skills.
Mike is also working on a proposal for a recipe book based on foraged ingredients which follow the seasons, as well as some exciting new announcements in the works.
The Cookery Theatre, where each celebrity chef demonstration will take place, will be located off North Bondgate in Bishop Auckland town centre. All guests are free to watch and the schedules will be available soon on the food festival’s social media and website.
Celebrating all things food
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are really excited to be once again welcoming visitors back to Bishop Auckland Market Place for our usual spring date for Bishop Auckland Food Festival. With the first round of celebrity chefs announced, the countdown is officially on for this fantastic event where traders, visitors and chefs alike can come together and celebrate all things food.
“This festival is a key part of our events calendar and something we know hundreds of people look forward to every year. It’s popular events like this that support the county’s current bid to become UK City of Culture 2025, showing just how important food is to culture and demonstrating how diverse and vibrant our cultural programme is.”
For more information about what to look forward to at this year’s festival, visit Bishop Auckland Food Festival.
Back the bid
County Durham is one of eight locations to have made the longlist for UK City of Culture 2025, and last week submitted its second bid for the next stage of the competition.
If the county wins the bid, it will then take on the baton from Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021, which has so far attracted more than £100m in capital investment to support cultural projects.