A food festival with real market value

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Next weekend sees the return of the Pantiles Food Festival which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Eileen Leahy savors a taste of what’s in store for foodies in the city and also chats with its founder Julian Leefe-Griffiths

On the weekend of May 14 and 15, there will be a feast for the senses – and of course the taste buds – on the city’s famous promenade thanks to the Pantiles Food Festival.

The event, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is hugely popular with many specialty producers selling their artisan gourmet products and live cooking demonstrations with local chefs.

With plenty to eat and drink and entertainment to keep the kids happy, it’s an ideal way to spend the weekend with family and friends as there really is something for everyone.

Its founder and promoter Julian Leefe-Griffiths says he can’t wait to welcome him again this year.

“We are so excited to announce that the fantastic Pantiles Food Festival is back for 2022 and will be bringing another delicious offering this coming weekend.

“I’m sure I don’t need to tell The Times readers what this event is all about as we are now in our 10th year! But for those of you who are new to the city or have never been to the food festival, it’s a great way to spend a weekend.

“The arrival of The Pantiles Food Festival and Jazz on The Pantiles is a real sign that summer is well underway on Tunbridge Wells famous promenade.”

Julian went on to say that there will be plenty of “pretty food stalls” selling everything from Moroccan tagines and artisan gins to gourmet preserves, homemade ice cream and French pastries, but the logistics of putting together a Also impressive assortment of epicurean delights is often pretty long.

“It’s a great labor of love to organize The Pantiles Food Festival and it takes a lot of planning,” admits Julian who also runs the Tunbridge Wells Hotel.

“We do our best to find great local producers selling fun and interesting things. We also ask top local chefs from the most well-known and trendy restaurants to come join us and share their knowledge about the Bandstand Show Cooking.

“Despite the hard work, we still end up with an excellent line-up of talented and committed local producers and chefs and we’re really excited to see what they’ll be serving up this year.”

Julian says those who will be doing live cooking demonstrations this coming weekend include Will Devlin from The Smallholding Michelin accredited in Kilndown, Scott Gross from The Beacon, Pat Hill from Thackery’s and main sponsors Matthew Sankey and local butcher Steve Fuller.

“Our sponsors have been an incredible help this year, especially after the pandemic. Matthew Sankey is a real asset to the festival and always

places great importance on the demonstration kitchen. But if fish isn’t your thing, then the event’s other main sponsor, Steve Fuller, is your man because he knows everything there is to know about meat.

The Pantiles Food Festival will once again be working with Royal Tunbridge Wells Together (RTW) who are financially supporting the event.

“RTW Together is very pleased to support events organized by The Pantiles merchants, such as the upcoming Food Festival, through our grants program for events that benefit downtown,” added Sarah-Jane Adams, Director of business enhancement for RTW.

“It’s always a highlight of the calendar, rightly attracting tourists and residents alike to enjoy a wide range of cuisines and meet local foodies and vendors, against the beautiful backdrop of this historic part of town. ”

The Pantiles Food Festival starts at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and lasts until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. For more details visit www.thepantiles.com

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