THE final garnishes are being put on preparations for a major culinary event in Essex this weekend.
Essex Fine Food Show takes place at Chelmsford City Racecourse on Saturday and Sunday with more than 100 artisan food producers showcasing their wares, celebrity chef demonstrations and the chance to try out a host of goodies.
The event will indulge a range of tastes and include an entire food hall dedicated to the treated served up by a host of food and drink producers across the East of England in the a Taste of Anglia Food Hall.
Cupcakes, dips, pies, and smoked meat and fish will all be on offer in the marquee which will feature producers from across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and beyond.
The rise in popularity of street food will also be addressed with the chance for show-goers to pick up tastes from across the world.
Leading the way in Essex is Tom Haward whose knowledge of oysters and seafood has been put to optimum use in his career as a chef.
Most recently the Mersea Island native has been plying his trade with his bespoke pop-up restaurant Tom’s Salty Shack - which it has just been confirmed will be keeping hungry music fans at this years’ Glastonbury Festival full-up.
The hand-made kitchen and surrounding eating areas, which allow guests to gather around and watch him create his dishes there and then, were created especially for Tom who is a seventh generation Mersea Oysterman.
He has spent a number of years working in the renowned Company Shed and Richard Haward Oysters run by his family and he uses this expertise in his new business which has already been booked up to a number of food festivals in the coming year.
Tom says he can’t wait to meet diners at the Fine Food Show: “The kitchen has been designed so we can use some or all of it.
“And it is perfect for being able to chat to people as they enjoy the food and drink we are serving.”
Along with fresh seafood at the show there will also be the option of Asian dishes from Authentic Thai Food, who hail from Hornchurch, serving up curries and noodles, Mexican food, paella, and locally produced real ale in the form of Adnams who will be bring their popular Ghost Ship brew.
There will also be tea brewed up by the Vintage Allsorts and a host of other food and drink producers.
And fans of television chefs Dean Edwards and John Whaite, who both regularly appear alongside daytime legend Lorraine Kelly serving up dishes for her to try, have the opportunity to see them in action.
Dean, a runner up on television’s Masterchef Goes Large, is first up on Saturday when he will be showing audiences how to create some top dishes.
Both he and John, who appears on Sunday, admit they are most looking forward to meeting the people who will be at the show and fully intend their appearances, at 11am, 1pm and 3pm to be as interactive as possible.
Dean says: “I love a chat, as my friends will all tell you, and these shows are all about getting to meet the people who are buying and making food and creating your recipes at home.
“Essex has a great reputation for locally produced food so I am really excited about being there,” he adds.
For John it will mark his first outing of the season to a food show.
He says: “I’ll be demoing a few recipes from my latest book and I’ll have a wander around, have a chat with people and have a laugh on stage – it’s very informal.”
Show organiser Anne Pocock says: “The Essex Fine Food show is a way of linking local people with local produce and to show off our amazing food and drink to a wide range of visitors.
“There is plenty to tickle the taste buds throughout the weekend celebration of all things edible and quaffable.
“Already hundreds of visitors have bought their tickets in advance but we look forward to welcoming many more who have chosen to pay on the gate.
“We promise a fine day out of discovering fabulous food and drink, much of it produced in our wonderful county.”
Essex Fine Food Show is at Chelmsford City Racecourse from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets costing £6 can be bought online at essexfindfoodshow.co.uk until 5pm tonight and after that on the gate only.
The demonstrations take place at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on each day and tickets for these, £6 for Priority seating (first three rows) and £4 for general seating, can be bought from the first floor in the main grand stand after you enter the show.