Record numbers of visitors enjoyed the Chester’s Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival over a gloriously sunny Easter weekend at the Roodee.
More than 29,700 attended what organiser Stephen Wundke described as ‘a food and drink lovers bliss’.
He said: “It was our best festival yet both in numbers who attended the festival and over 1,200 people camping on the racecourse as part of Camperfest. There was no doubt that the mild, dry Easter brought people out in force and our exhibitors reported that Cheshire, Wirral and North Wales visitors as well as those from further afield went on a local produce eating and drinking frenzy in the sunshine. It was our best event yet and there was such a happy family feel across the venue.
“Over 1,000 children cooked as part of the Academy of Culinary Arts programme. Simon Rimmer, Gregg Wallace and Jean Christophe Novelli as well as a host of local chefs played to packed houses and artists turned up from across the UK to see the first staging of Artfest.
“My sincere thanks to Chester Racecourse who helped us get the event on against the backdrop of some torrential rain leading up to Easter and now we are all looking froward to a break and then some planning for 2016.”
On Saturday, festival perennial and Sunday Brunch star Simon Rimmer headlined a group that included New Moon celebrity chef David Mooney, rising star Luke Thomas from new Chester bar and restaurant Luke’s & Gin Rickeys and 2 AA Rosette chef Mark Walker.
Sunday saw the arrival of Masterchef star Gregg Wallace, who was on hand to judge the ‘We Love Cheshire Sous Chef Finals’ won by Matt Egan from The Mere in Knutsford.
He was backed up by Harthill Cooking School supremo Brian Mellor, former Coronation Street star and now master cheesemaker Sean Wilson as well as a special cocktail clinic from Hoole sensation The Suburbs.
On Bank Holiday Monday, French star chef and heart throb Jean Christophe Novelli mentored local stars as he puts Liam McKay from The Chef’s Table, Ian Penn of 1539 and Matt Worswick from Lawns at Thornton Hall through their paces on the main stage. He was joined by Andrew Nutter – the original rock and roll chef.
The event, sponsored by Allington Hughes Law, attracted more than 150 food and drink producers who offered visitors the chance to taste, try and buy their wares.