Wafting smell of bacon cooking - it must be Aylsham Food Festival’s Big Slow Brunch

Members of the community sit down together to enjoy Aylsham Food Festival's Big Slow Brunch. Picture

Members of the community sit down together to enjoy Aylsham Food Festival's Big Slow Brunch. Picture: ARP PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Harvest festival goers packed Aylsham Town Hall to enjoy a Big Slow Brunch after church, a new addition to the annual Aylsham Food Festival.

Diners at the Aylsham High School festival gala dinner. Picture: ARP PHOTOGRAPHY

Diners at the Aylsham High School festival gala dinner. Picture: ARP PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

For the past decade the festival has finished with a breakfast but it always clashed with St Michael's harvest service next door and so this year the time was altered and brunch was offered instead, giving churchgoers the chance to join other members of the community, said festival spokesman Roger Willis, of organisers Slow Food Aylsham.

About 120 people tucked into a locally-sourced 'Full English' brunch yesterday, with bacon and sausages provided by the town's three butchers.

Tomatoes and mushrooms came from local wholesalers Fresh Approach.

Mr Willis said he had been delighted to see some of the residents from new housing developments in Aylsham among the brunchers.

Juggling Chef Gordon Blur in Market Place. Picture: ARP PHOTOGRAPHY

Juggling Chef Gordon Blur in Market Place. Picture: ARP PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant


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Development at the Youngs site, on Cawston Road; and Bure Meadows, near Aylsham High School, will eventually bring an extra 600 homes to the town and add an estimated 2,000 extra residents to the current population of about 6,500.

Festival events began on Friday with the weekly Country Market during which a festival cake, made by Muriel Whiffen, was raffled, raising £70 for the Liz Jones Memorial Trust.

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Miss Jones had been founder and chairman of Slow Food Aylsham.

The Country Market's popular café raised £73 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

In the evening 100 Aylsham High School students prepared and served a five-course festival dinner to more than 100 diners, using local produce.

Starters of homemade soup or frittata were followed by a choice of herb-crusted cod, lemon-infused chicken or stuffed pepper risotto.

An assiette of three deserts - chocolate brownie, meringue and trifle - was followed by cheese and biscuits, tea or coffee.

The students were guided by Jason Baxter, head of hospitality and catering at the school.

Helping out in the kitchen were Steve Norgate, chef at North Walsham's Beechwood Hotel, and Alistair Bradshaw, catering manager at the National Trust's Felbrigg Hall, while Adam Fields, restaurant manager at Mackenzie Hotels, was busy front of house.

Guest speaker at the event was Rupert Farquharson, managing director of Woodforde's brewery.

Saturday saw Aylsham Farmers' Market boosted by extra stalls while chef Derrol Walker, from Aylsham; chef Charlie Hodson, who was recently awarded Champion status by Norfolk Food and Drink Ltd; Steve Thorpe, head of the hotel school at City College, Norwich; and Johnny Payne , of Aylsham's Coxfords butcher's, all gave demonstrations in the town hall.

Outside 'Juggling Chef' Gordon Blur entertained shoppers by throwing fire, oranges and knives in the air.

A harvest lunch of homemade soups in the parish church attracted about 50 people and the evening saw wine tasting in the Aylsham Heritage Centre, led by HarperWells Wine Merchants, of Eaton, Norwich.

'In Aylsham we like to celebrate good, fresh local food, those who grow it, those who sell it and those who enjoy it, rather than just looking at food as fuel,' said Mr Willis.

'It's very much a community and family thing too - it brings people together to chat and spend time with each other.'

The festival was supported by grants from Woodforde's and Broadland District Council.

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