North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival launched at Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market with a local food challenge

Foodies are in store for a special treat after the 2012 North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival was launched with a call for chefs to join its local food challenge.

Hundreds of visitors to the Creake Abbey Farmers' Market today (Saturday) saw two top chefs enter the mobile cookery theatre to prepare dishes using seasonal food at the invitation of Norfolk-based writer and broadcaster Mary Kemp.

Heats for the challenge, where chefs produce two courses in one hour using �40 worth of produce from the market, will take place at the montly market between now and July, with semi-finals in August.

The final will take place at the North Norfolk festival, sponsored by Kettles Foods and part of the county-wide EDP Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival in association with Norfolk County Council, at Holkham Hall on Saturday September 1 and Sunday September 2.

The festival, now in its third year, attracted about 50 stalls and 8,500 visitors in 2011. This year will see the addition of a food court, and organisers are seeking 65 stall holders.

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Mrs Kemp said: 'One of the good things about the recession is people are looking at what they buy and how they spend their money. Markets like this give people the chance to meet the people who produce their food and that's becoming more important.'

Teddy Maufe, who first had the idea of the festival and now chairs it, said it had come on leaps and bounds.

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He said: 'I was aware north Norfolk is particularly rich in food and drink from the area, including sea food, and when you compared it with other areas who have food festivals it seemed sad there was an omission there.'

Brendan Playford, who set up cold pressed rapeseed oil maker Crush in 2010, said: 'The North Norfolk has got us off the ground. Last year was so good for us it gave us an injection of cash. To get that without huge overheads was really, really good. There are not many two-day events you can go to like that. Getting an injection in that way was amazing.'

Sam Steggles, whose goat cheese business Fielding Cottage is 18 months old, said: 'It's a great shop window for producers like myself to engage with members of the general public to get across not only the message about buying local, but also buying quality.'

Chefs below the rank of head chef interested in joining the local food challenge should see for information.

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