The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Alnwick Food Festival 22nd and 23rd September 2012

ananda's picture

Alnwick Food Festival 22nd and 23rd September 2012

Alnwick Food Festival

22nd and 23rd September 2012

I spent much of last week baking and preparing myself for the challenges and opportunities opening up from this local food festival, now in its 8th year;

All this began back in January when I first saw a tweet asking if anyone was interested in demonstrating/talking at the food festival.   I made immediate contact, and Karen, who co-ordinates the event came to see me later that week.   I contacted my colleague, Ann, from “Dough Works”;  and she agreed to work with me in partnership for the event.   We prepared a presentation where I would talk and she would demonstrate, and we also agreed to share a stall to sell our bread and other baked lovelies over the weekend.   The stall was given to us free resulting from us agreeing to present; an excellent deal to me!

Last week I began baking in the sunshine at home and made some lovely Sourdough Seed Breads and Five Grain Levains, which looked like this:

After that I had a successful baking day with my friend Nigel, using his large wood-fired oven at his home in Ryton, near Newcastle.   On Friday, Nigel spent a second day baking, and I trundled into Alnwick to the Farmers’ Market.   The day began with lots of heavy showers, and ended up being a wash-out.   However, the sun came out later, and the weather became very settled, just in time for the big event at the weekend.

My parents had come to visit, and my Dad had put up some great shelves in the kitchen, greatly improving storage for my bakery ingredients.   However, it meant a few difficulties coping with loading up the car from the kitchen; it all came good in the end.

Over the two day event I sold all but 4 of the 200 loaves baked for the event by Nigel, and/or me; we also sold nearly all of the breads and other lovely treats which Ann made as well.   The sun shone, and there was some great food offered throughout the market square for the many visitors to enjoy.   When Alison and my parents arrived in town there was no parking to be found in the town centre; they had to park some way off and walk in; so it brought a lot of business into the town; much needed, of course!

Here are a couple of pictures of the stall, including one with Jean-Christophe Novelli, a Michelin-starred Chef in the UK, and the chief attraction of the event.   He did long demonstrations on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as preparing and serving a buffet in Alnwick Castle on the Saturday evening.

Our Saturday talk and demonstration went off very well; the firm which provided camera and pa systems were first class, and it was a pleasure to take to the stage and talk, aware that the audience of at least 200 people could easily hear everything I said, and were able to see clearly what Ann and I were upto on stage, and see the PowerPoint presentation summarising the aim of the session, and the key points I was pulling out.   Here are a few photos of the talk as it progressed.   There are more photographs on flickr, here:

There has been lots of favourable publicity from the event; loads of tweets going out, and good press coverage too.   Everyone has worked so hard; a particularly big thank you to Karen, but also to everyone else involved in any way, as the whole event was so well-organised.

I’m going to be absent from TFL throughout October.   Work on the Dissertation has not progressed how I had hoped, and so I need to “go to ground” if I am going to get it finished in time.   I’ll be back in November, and hoping to break into lots of new territory to drive my business forward…and hopefully spend my time baking lovely bread.

Meantime, all good wishes



mwilson's picture

Hi Andy,

Sounds like the event went well. Well done.

Your absence from TFL, although relatively short, you will be missed. Your words of wisdom and contributions to this forum re-enforce this community.

Good luck with your business.


PiPs's picture

Hi Andy,

Nice to see all the hard work paying off and the weather for the most part being favourable ... and the baking looks really wonderful.

All the best for your busy October. Hope it all comes together.



wassisname's picture

Sounds like lots of good things happening at once, Andy.  Even some sunshine!?!  Great to hear it! 

Best of luck on your dissertation. 

Looking forward to November,


Janetcook's picture

HI Andy,

Sorry but I can't help but ask what is up with the hat and blue hair????

Lovely breads and your weekend sounded really successful and rewarding.  Must be a thrill to bring your work to an eager public especially getting to teach too.  One never knows who will benefit from what you are doing.  Sounds very exciting and like a lot of very hard work!

Good luck with your dissertation....I know how draining having something like that hanging over ones head can be.  A necessary part of this whole experience I guess....something to drive us nuts :-)  I look forward to hearing how it all turns out when you return.

Take Care,


isand66's picture

Good luck Andy in the coming weeks.  You will certainly be missed here at TFL but I'm sure we will not be dissapointed to read about your adventures in November.  Sounds like you have a very busy month ahead of you and I wish you all the good fortune you deserve.



dabrownman's picture

dissertation - next thing you know it is all over .  See you in  a month.  Wanted to tell you that we love your Toasted Brazil Nut and Prune Bread.  It is one of the best breads we have ever eaten.  Just delicious!

Glad your business goes well.

Mebake's picture

Looks like it has been a lovely festival, Andy! Nice photographs, too!

The breads look great!

Work hard on your dissertation. Hope to see you around on TFL soon!



Franko's picture

Hi Andy,

Congratulations on all your success with the Food Festival and Market! You certainly managed to produce a whack of loaves in the week leading up to them and they all look excellent. Nice work! I'll look forward to seeing your next post in a month or so once you've got your dissertation looked after. Good luck and all the best.


SylviaH's picture

Your lovely photos and writing certainly show what a success the Food Festival and Market were and how much you contributed to it...well done!  So many beautifully baked WFO breads!  

Much success and happiness is clearly in your future and well deserved.  

Looking forward to seeing more in November.


ps very nice hairnet and is a hairnet? 

ananda's picture

A big thank you to each one of you for your very kind comments; they are much appreciated as always.

Yes the sunshine in Alnwick across the weekend was a real bonus for this event.   Subsequently it has rained heavily in the UK; we have escaped the floods, although others close by have not been so lucky.

The "blue hair" is indeed a hairnet.   I always wear "regulation" clothes when I'm demonstrating to the public, and, now, selling at a stall.   Is it not important to set the best example?   Working in a food factory where strict rules about clothing are rigidly enforced, and one just accepts it; everyone looks the same.   The "Trilby" hat is my preferred option; I dislike baseball caps and skull caps.

Most of the photographs are courtesy of Alison; she is much better with a camera than I am, although I'm not being generous with my compliments when I write this!

Thanks again; I'll be back in November

Best wishes


breadsong's picture

Thanks so much for your report of the Alnwick Food Show. What a great-sounding event to be part of!
So many beautiful breads baked for the show - no wonder it was a huge success.
I'm sure everyone enjoyed the presentation you and Anne gave, and you both look right at home, 'on stage' :^)
I hope everything goes well with your studies and writing, over the next month!
:^) breadsong

ananda's picture

Many thanks, Breadsong

Best wishes