Exeter Food Festival: A quick round-up by Chris Gower

The Exeter Food Festival is a massive part of the culinary calendar for foodies in this wonderful city.  Each year Eating Exeter has written about it and attended dutifully, watched the demos, tweeted and blogged about the experience enjoying the wealth of talented producers and chefs that our region produce.

This year myself and Steve Heath (Chilli Head Chef) had the honour of being part of the action in more ways than one.  Not only was I part of the Question and Answer panel in the BBC Radio Devon Tent, but I was an ‘official’ (ish) photographer and Steve took co-hosted a demo with South Devon Chilli Farm in the Dart’s Farm Teepee.

The festival started off with a photo-call where we were able to snap some newspaper worthy photos in the presence of the great MC himself.

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It was a very informal meeting, where Michael proved that having an Otter Valley ice-cream for breakfast was part of living the dream!

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Neither Lauren or I could make the Saturday, but we definitely had Sunday and Monday covered!  This wasn’t the only thing that was covered, because it was a good thing the majority of the food festival was covered as it rained pretty much solidly on both these days.

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But across the board, this was the only dampener on a fantastic event that constantly draws a large and eclectic array of people from across the region.  The Northernhay Gardens is Britain’s oldest public space having been laid out originally in 1612, the gardens curve around the base of Exeter Castle which makes this the ideal space for holding an event like this, and with the inclusion of the Castle as part of the Festival too, not only can festival-goers experience the best food and drink, they are treated to a walk through history at the same time.

I genuinely love this festival.  The structured program of events, the vast range of activities and goings on, the producers, the after-dark parties and the sheer number of organisations and businesses make me proud to be in a county that takes as much pride in its food & drink as ours does.

Now know that this post is completely bias.  It is also mostly made up of photos so please scroll down for more images of the Sunday that I attended.

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The first stop for us was the Beer Tent.  I had pre-radio nerves and needed some liquid assistance.  As usual I go for Otter Brewery Otter Bright and Tori went for her Dartmoor Ale favourite Jail Ale which was very much needed.

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Being invited to speak on the radio was a great honour.  I was lucky enough to share the stage with my foodie friends Tara (Tara’s Busy Kitchen) and Harry who was standing in for Nick Hook who is Mr Devon Food Hour.

Thirty minutes passed like five, and before you know it, its over.  We had a blast talking about writing a food blog and the fun that it can be, also how easy it is just to start writing.

In no-time at all we were sat waiting for the highlight of the day in the Question Tent, Paul Ainsworth, Michael Caines, Tom Kerridge and Michael Wignall answering questions.


It was fascinating to see into the minds of these great chefs, what a rare opportunity to have four of the UK’s best in one place!

Then it was time to hot-foot it down to the Cookery Theatre to see the mighty Tom Kerridge demo a classic British favourite.

But before that, we were lucky to catch Michael Caines and Adam Little’s demo.  Adam is a fantastic chef and is Head Chef at the Exeter Golf and Country Club that we reviewed a while back; it was great to see Adam taking the stage even though he was going back later for evening service!

After Adam and Michael’s demonstration finished, the crowd swelled in readiness for the main event.  Tom Kerridge, chef-owner of the Hands and Flowers which has two Michelin Stars demonstrated essentially Steak and Chips, a perfect accompaniment to the Otter Ale that was being served at the VIP guest table.

It was quite awe-inspiring to see the master at work, and even more of an honour given the photos that I ended up taking were some of the best (imho) of my dubious photography career.

I was also thrilled see the legendary Paul Ainsworth’s demo towards the end of the day as well, I have never seen a man handle a lime with so much ease and grace!  Joking aside, I really enjoyed his demonstration – he explained everything carefully and really engaged the room.

The come-down from seeing these demos needed food and by the time we had got our fill of chefs doing magical things with meat, we needed food badly.

I had my eye on a couple of vendors but I was particularly taken with The Guildable Manor, a fresh import from Borough Market in London and we met the lovely affable Dan who introduced us to his lovely sausage-kebab creations with his scratch made sauces and fresh baguettes.

By the end of the day we had run out of time, so we didn’t really get to look at the producers this year.  We did enjoy a small glass of Crispy Pig before we left, but our day was tiring and it was definitely time to go home.

Had we made it to Monday as well we would have seen one of my favourite food bloggers, who coincidentally happens to also be the husband of Co-Editor Lauren, the Chilli Head Chef Steve Heath take part in a demo with South Devon Chilli Farm along with another one of my favourite food bloggers, Mr Marcus Bawdon (in the Hawaiian shirt)!

Steve co-hosted with Phil of SDCF and answered questions from the public.  Steve also helped out with the chilli sauce eating competition with James Dart of Dart’s Farm compering, and Marcus cooked some meat in one of SDCF’s newest sauces.

Exeter Food Festival will always be my favourite food festival.  We are lucky enough to live in a county with a reputation for exquisite and epic food producers and culinary creators, and the festival is a gleaming example of how to celebrate this.  Next year the fun repeats with big names and awesome events  – Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink returns for its 15th year on 5th, 6th and 7th May – the early May Bank Holiday 2018.



10 Questions for Chef Tom Allbrook from Hornbrook Kitchen

Regular readers might have noticed that each Wednesday evening we post a ‘Recipe Of The Week’.  These are created by our tame chef Tom Allbrook from Hornbrook Kitchen, a new company based in North Devon.  They’ve been doing their share of events and getting themselves out to a wider audience.

I was intrigued to know more about what Hornbrook Kitchen is all about and some of the inspiration behind the fantastic recipes featured on Eating Exeter.

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1. What is Hornbrook Kitchen? Where can we eat your food?

Hornbrook Kitchen started as an idea we bounced off each other when me and my partner where travelling across America on our ‘food trip’. We saw so many different food ideas and cultures, we wanted to bring some of this back to England with us.

We came up with the name from a collaboration of our surnames to keep it personal to us. We have worked within the food industry for many years and decided that we were ready to take on a new challenge and start our own venture. Although still early days for us we are hoping to hit up street food events, markets, festivals, etc all over Devon & Somerset. Not only doing street food we can offer fine dining and can be hired out for private catering events.

2. Who is your greatest inspiration in the Chef world?

This is an easy one for me, Jamie Oliver without a doubt. He is my all-time favourite Chef. I started watching him when I was about 8 years old and have been following him ever since. I love what he does with food and the way he cooks, but also the passion he has for great food and good ingredients. He has been a huge inspiration to me in the way I cook now and the chef I have become.

3. I noticed you were part of a team that won a Taste Of The West award? Tell me more…

This is something I had done before at previous pubs so I thought it was a great opportunity to do again but this time it was my own menu so it meant a lot to win a gold for my food and was a really good thing for the pub and boost for myself and the team.


4. As a chef, what is the benefit of living in a Devon with so many fresh ingredients on your doorstep?

I find you can really eat the seasons, just a couple months ago I was out picking wild garlic from the hedgerows and taking it home to cook with. Sometimes I take trips down to the coast to do a spot of sea fishing with my brother in law who is also a chef although I have to say they haven’t been very successful. But this is what food is all about for me  -smells, the fun and the flavours.

5. I hear you’ve been on a journey recently to the states?

The idea for this trip came up over a beer one night with some old friends of mine. I never really thought any more about it or that it would actually happen, as it was just an idea. But every time we met up we spoke a little more about it and a few months after that we thought actually why not? I am a massive fan of smoked BBQ food and my friends have their own food van called ‘Lola’s Wings’. They really wanted to get out there and see more street-food for themselves so it seemed like the perfect trip.

So with my partner also we set off in a camper van that we hired and traveled from New York to LA covering about 4000 miles. Searching out the best BBQ and street-food joints that America had to offer, and there were so many. The highlight of the trip for me was getting to Franklin’s BBQ to try some of the well known smoked brisket. After a 4 hour wait, queuing patiently outside the restaurant on a early Sunday morning I finally got to try it; it was well worth the wait.

6. What is your culinary guilty pleasure?

It’s very old school, but you can’t beat Toad In The Hole with mash, peas and onion gravy. I was lucky enough to have parents that are pretty nifty in the kitchen so I was brought up on good quality, home cooked meals every day. I have kept that influence in my own style of cooking.

7. If you had to rescue one item from your burning kitchen, what would it be?

That would have to be my little black book of recipes. It’s my cooking Bible. I started writing all my ideas, recipes and inspirations down at about the age of 4. One day I will use this to write my first cook book.


8. What is the future plan for Hornbrook Kitchen?

HornBrook Kitchen is still in its early stages, its hard to say how the business will develop but we are hoping that it will be a great success. Our main aim at the moment is to get our name out there and be known for serving good quality, locally sourced and sustainable food to the highest standard and to have fun with it.

We are both great lovers of travel so if we can combine our work with being able to travel the country that would be an amazing achievement. We still have many places we would like to experience, Italy being at the top of our list. It’s good to get different ideas for food from a cultural aspect and adapt that to our own style of cooking to ensure our products stay unique.

We have talked about one day having our own restaurant combined with a fresh food deli but who knows what the future may bring. My own personal goal as a chef is to have a cook book published with all my recipes, so that I can share what I have done with others.


9. Do you have any particularly favourite producers or retailers that you use regularly in your cooking?

Local sustainable food is very important to us. We are lucky to be in an area where there are so many good quality suppliers around.

10. What three words would you use to describe Hornbrook Kitchen?


The Great Artisan Feast Festival – Southernhay Gardens

The team behind Exeter Street Food will be transforming Southernhay Gardens for The Great Artisan Feast Festival on Saturday 15th October 2016, 10:00am to 8:00pm.

Now a familiar sight on Exeter’s elegant Southernhay Gardens the Exeter Street Food team are launching their new food and drink experience for all, called The Great Artisan Feast Festival.

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The all-day festival features local artisan producers, street food, deli stands, ‘Granny Garbutt’s ‘Gin Palace’, ale bar, guest brewers and other beverages. There will also be guest food speakers, cooking demonstrations from Exeter Cookery School, sponsor stands plus live entertainment.

There will be large undercover marquee with a bar & seating from which to enjoy the unique atmosphere right at the heart of Exeter city centre. Entry is free.

In addition to a wide selection of producers selling delicious food from Exeter and the South West, visitors can also enjoy Granny Garbutt’s ‘Gin Palace’, serving a wide selection of specialist gins, whiskies from the Whisky Wagon and local ales and beers. There will also be a variation of botanical drinks available.

There will be cookery demonstrations from Exeter Cookery School, who have been exploring opportunities to work with Exeter Street Food for some time. Live music will also add to the ambience of the event in the picturesque Southernhay Gardens.

Quality and Variety

As with all the Exeter Street Food events, The Great Artisan Feast Festival will also focus on quality and variety celebrating the best food and drink from across the South West.

Visitors will be able to choose from designated food and drink areas including Very Veggie, Meaty Mouthfuls, Tantalising Tipples, Relax & Natter, Sweet Sensations, Delicious Deli and World Flavours. There will be plenty of vegetarian and gluten free choices too.

Karen Skerratt, Managing Director of the Hubb Group, the company behind Exeter Street Food and The Great Artisan Feast Festival said:

We can’t wait to bring The Great Artisan Feast Festival to Southernhay on October the 17th. Our Exeter customers are very adventurous and the festival affords them a chance to meet the producers, ask questions and give direct feedback.

The Festival, which is free to enter, will feature our extremely popular Gin Palace, which alongside the live entertainment and demonstrations will make the event a truly unique experience to city folk and visitors of all ages.

The Artisan Festival reflects how we at the Hubb Group are learning and developing our offer all the time. We take pride in responding to both our customers and our stall holders and working hard to not only meet their needs but also exceeding their expectations.”

The Hubb Group created, organise and run Exeter Street Food, Bath Street Food and a variety of bespoke pop-up festivals, markets and other unique and award winning experiences. The Group is currently undergoing a period of sustained growth and company expansion. With a hard earned reputation for quality and variety, the Hubb team are skilled in planning and delivering events designed to meet their company mission ‘Be Inspired, Be Unique’.

Jim Fisher, co-owner of Exeter Cookery School who will be running cookery demonstrations at The Great Artisan Feast Festival said: “We have watched with eager anticipation the development of Exeter Street Food Market and are delighted to be involved in their inaugural Awards and Great Artisan Feast Festival in Exeter. We will be tempting visitors with some more unusual ice cream flavours, such as Margarita ice cream and caramelised rum-infused pineapple with a Pina Colada ice cream.”

The Great Artisan Feast Festival is on Saturday 15th October 2016 10:00am – 8:00pm at Southernhay Gardens for more information visit www.streetfoodexeter.co.uk or on Facebook at facebook.com/exeterstreetfood

British Street Food Festival 2015 – South West

Falmouth’s Event Square Bank holiday weekend (29, 30 & 31 August)


  • A delicious day out featuring the best street food vendors from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset & Dorset
  • FREE ENTRY EVENT and free 1/2 pint of Sharp’s Brewery Beer for Early Eaters (each trader will give 40  x 1/2 pint voucher to the first 40 paying customers over 18 on saturday & Sunday – maximum 2 per visitor)
  • Entertainment curated by Universal Music

Sat in a deck chair, overlooking the sea, it’s hard to think of anything nicer than a bag of chips and a pickled egg. But a new generation of street food traders are shaking things up. And this August Bank Holiday, in Falmouth, the best traders from across the South West are competing to prove they’re shaking it up better than anyone else. So it’s Cornwall v Devon v Somerset v Dorset in the regional heats of the 2015 British Street Food Awards. Who wins? And represents the South West in the big national finals? You decide.

In Falmouth’s Events Square, the 13 best traders from the region will be cooking up their signature dishes all weekend, from a weird and wonderful fleet of vans, trucks and trailers. The public then vote for their favourite. There will be live music and DJs – curated by Universal Music – with live newspaper reviews hosted by the editor of the Independent on Sunday. There will will be a street food/beer matching experience from Sharp’s, and Have I Got Foods For You, the Festival’s take on the topical news quiz. With better prizes.


The Competitors…


Jalopy Pizza (DORSET)

The idea for Jalopy Pizza came from holidays in the south of France, where wood-fired pizza vans regularly park up in lay-bys, campsites and supermarket car parks. When Katherine Locke stumbled across an ancient Peugeot J7 being sold in Montpelier, with a FANTASTIC Ephrem wood-fired oven, well….it was fate. Jalopy have since gone on to win Best Snack at the 2011 British Street Food Awards, but this year they want to go one better. They want to win Best Of The Best at the big finals in London.

Truly Crumptious (CORNWALL)

Is there anything more delicious than a crumpet? Yes. A homemade crumpet. Made with organic flour from the South West, and cooked up on a lightly-oiled griddle to give it a crisp, thick base. Serve it out of a 1967 Cheltenham Waterbuck – built in the day when caravans looked like caravans – with butter, jam or cheese, and you’ve got something just a little bit special.

The Glorious Oyster (DEVON)

According to Norman Lewis, in “Aphrodisiacs I Have Known”, the sexual power of oysters is all in the mind. A group of male pearl-divers on the island of Kamaran get most of their nourishment from the lovely little things – but their sex drive remains resolutely low, low, low. The Glorious Oyster is more than just an oyster bar, which is maybe just as well for public order in the county of Devon. They serve up an ever-changing seasonal menu of local seafood, from a horse box, and where better for them to come and showcase their wares than Falmouth, home to the world-famous Oyster Festival and one of the last remaining traditional oyster fisheries?

Tea N Toast (DEVON)

Ben Mills is an OG — an original gangsta — in the world of street food and, for the last ten years, has been attempting to save the world by dispensing tea. And toast – where necessary. Ben set up Tea N Toast to warm the cockles and feed the soul in a small van covered in flowers. The only surprise is that he hasn’t competed at the British Street Food Awards before. These are the last heats before the finals. Maybe this year his stars are in alignment….

Vee Double Moo (SOMERSET)

This ice cream van, affectionately nicknamed Daisy, serves up gourmet soft scoop and frozen yogurt round the South West. There are lots of interesting Milk Bar style options on the menu including dipped cones with smoked sea salt, alcoholic softserve shots, and pies a la mode. The vintage VW – with its distinctive beige and sky blue cowprint livery – has a twin sister serving churros.

Have you won any awards?

Yes, I was awarded a badge for my post card collection at Brownies.

What do your friends and family make of what you do?

They are very patient – and of course very proud?!.  Especially my kids who have grown up with Vee Double Moo and are now very adaptable, ice-cream loving young people.  And they can both strip down an ice cream machine with their eyes closed.

Anything else you want to tell me?

Please encourage the British foodie public to use and abuse Twitter – if you use it for nothing else, it is totally the best way to keep track of all your favourite traders, their locations and opening times.  That and the British Street Food app obvs!  Oh and never stress about queueing – “if it’s queueing it’s worth doing” and you can use the time to chat to your friends, make new ones . . .  or even tweet.

Inkie’s Smokehouse (CORNWALL)

There’s the easy way. There’s the fast way. And then there’s the best way. Inkie’s barbecue is a family run smokehouse that serves up authentic pit-smoked q. All the meat is locally sourced and cooked low ‘n’ slow over hickory, maple or cherry wood for a minimum of 16 hours. Check for the smoke ring – this stuff is authentic.


They always told me that eating on the bus was rude. Wrong. Check out Just Fab — Italian street food that’s cooked up and served on a real life London double decker bus. It would be rude not to! The menu’s emphasis is on vegan, so expect arancini (rice balls) with spinach, mushroom and herbs, and fava beans crocchetta served with a fennel salad. There’s room on top for 34 to sit in comfort – otherwise it’s standing room only, with a plateful from the takeaway windows downstairs. All aboard!

Sapeur (DEVON)

You think you know waffles? Batter-based cakes that don’t taste of much, right? Wrong! Everything from the recipe to the type of iron is up for grabs. In Vietnam they’re green for God’s sake. Sapeur is a 1961 fire engine from Chatillon Sur Indre, adapted to serve Gaufres — fresh Belgian waffles. They have taken what we still perceive as a simple delivery system for other ingredients, and elevated it to an artform. Come and meet Paul (one of the nicest men in street food) as he does his thing. See him here in his other project, Lemon Jelli….

SeaDog (DEVON)

Think of the South West and you think of the coast.  Atlantic breakers and pretty harbours bobbing with boats bringing in the bounty of the sea. But less than 10% of the seafood stays in the region. The rest is exported. That’s where Seadog comes in. They create innovative world street food that takes our local catch on a wondrous journey across the globe picking up influences from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and beyond.  We’ll never let Johnny Foreigner get his hands on this stuff again….

Eat Like A Greek (DEVON)

The Greeks are famous for their hospitality, their food, and their dancing. If they can just get past the whole plate smashing thing, they would be market leaders in the street food game. This husband and wife team fell in love in Greece, and relocated to Devon, intent on marrying their two cultures together — the best of West Country ingredients with organic herbs and spices from their farm in Samos Island. For the Awards in Falmouth, they are building something new – in a horse box. “We wanted to bring the memories of that little beach side taverna on holiday to our customers minds using handmade olive wood counters, hand painted décor and little trinkets from home. It’s going to take our business to a whole new level.”

How many people can you feed in a day?

Mike says as long “As I have meat and bread I will never stop!!!!”

What is your signature dish?

We have epitomized the Greek Souvlaki pita wrap. We use Devon meats from our local butcher, season it with our own special blend of spices and create a mouthwatering Tzatziki sauce from our family recipe to top it all off. We are working on some special additions for the Awards.

Are you rich?

Big cliché coming…..not cash rich but rich in life. Street food has given us the perfect platform to live out everything we love. Mike cooks, I organize, our daughter laughs. We travel in our camper van through the UK and beyond earning a living and spreading joy with our food. Sounds good to me.

West Country Higgler (DORSET)

The Higgler is an ultra-rare, bare metal Land Rover. Built from scratch. And called Womble. It serves up delicious coffee, made from high altitude, top grade beans, with velvety milk from Craig’s in Dorchester. But you won’t be waiting too long for a brew. “We can put out 80 to 200 coffees per hour depending on our set up” says . “And we don’t need sleep. Obviously”.

Field and Kitchen (DEVON)

Vicki and Jonny – the Field and Kitchen team — only picked up ‘Betty’, their vintage Peugeot market van, last month. There was the inevitable rust to deal with, and a few Gallic issues when it came to the subject of hard work. But now she’s all prepped, and ready to go, with a menu of what is in season, and what is popular. Don’t be surprised if it’s homemade flatbreads, with lamb koftas with homemade houmous, or pork pibil with fresh guacamole and salsa. Try it all.

Linleys (DEVON)

A mid-life crisis? Maybe. But this husband and wife team have never regretted leaving the security of the corporate environment for the world of festivals and street food. The suppliers that they use are all local to their set up, mostly within ten miles. Examples of their menu include slow cooked, smoked whiskey brisket, served in a wrap with their own slaw and salad or roasted salmon steaks with honey roasted vegetables, served with a dill and horseradish dressing. All for under £5.00 – and handed over with a smile.

Exeter Night Market @ The Quay – Not a definitive review

If you head down to the Exeter Guildhall on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday you’ll spot a cluster of street food stalls in the centre, surrounding the chapel.  This was the beginnings of Street Food Exeter, and with its popularity they opened a second event down at The Quay.  Called Exeter Night Market, it follows a similar thread with street food stalls but some live music too but happening less frequently.

Given the fact I’ve been such a fan of the Guildhall Street Food market I thought I’d give it a go and see what was making this event so popular.  In fact the Night Market must be popular as they’ve added an extra night too.  Full details can be found on their website www.streetfoodexeter.co.uk

The event itself is brilliant.  World food traders, local food traders and Otter Brewery were all represented under the transport shed on the Exeter Quayside. The sun shone, the Otter Amber flowed and we had a lovely evening generally.  Unfortunately, and this goes for anything that happens on the Quayside, there are cobbles and cobbles don’t generally bode well for people in wheelchairs.

Although we didn’t get to eat at this event (other reasons that I won’t go in to in this post), there are other events on the Exeter Street Food calendar to try, and its Friday today so I might head over to the Guildhall later and get my Hog Roast fill (they ran out last night)…


Philly Cheese Steak sandwich

Philly Cheese Steak sandwich

Popped through Exeter Street Food Market (located in the Guildhall Shopping Centre) at lunchtime and treated myself to a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. Minus the added Jalapenos, the size of the sandwich took me by surprise in the best way possible.

For £4.50, you see the whole process right before your eyes. The way the steak was cooked, the chips frying (yes there are a few chunky chips thrown in on top). It takes less than five minutes and it all comes together in a delightfully satisfying combination. The steak was cooked just enough and was very tender, and not too greasey either.