The search is on for the most imaginative and innovative celebration of British food during British Food Fortnight (BFF), which launched on Saturday (September 17) and runs to Sunday October 2.
The judges, led by BFF ambassador chef Raymond Blanc alongside the new Secretary of State for Defra and Breige Donaghy of BFF sponsor Co-op, are looking for an event, large or small, that ‘brings colour to the lives of those taking part and shows a love of the diverse and delicious food produced in this country’.
It could be an event for schoolchildren teaching them the delights of the food grown on their doorstep; a special food event organised by a retailer or restauranteur for their community; a gathering for isolated members of the community who are brought together through the joy of enjoying a British feast; or even a whole town embracing British food culture.
The competition is open to celebrations of all sizes. Past participants include whole towns. The contest’s 2014 winner, Emsworth in Hampshire, created an entire fortnight of activity and now celebrates British Food Fortnight throughout the town every year.
The 2015 winner, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, created a whole weekend of activity: a sourdough bread recipe by chef Lee Clarke of the Prévost restaurant in Peterborough was the central ingredient of an outdoor meal for 500. This year he plans to celebrate by serving a menu consisting only of ingredients that come from the ‘P’ postcode.
Previous entries have also included schools using discarded food to create feasts for homeless guests, an international exchange group swapping British recipes and crafts, and care homes that have planted, cared for and harvested produce with their residents.
Raymond Blanc said: “We are encouraging everyone to celebrate British food in homes and in neighbourhoods across the land. Individuals, clubs and organisations can all get involved. We have so many opportunities to source, celebrate and be proud of our great British produce. So let’s make 2016 another bumper year for British food”.
The competition has a special theme this year: rediscovering long-forgotten traditional recipes that were once unique to particular areas of Britain.
Staffordshire oat cakes, Bakewell Tart, Bath Buns, Bosworth Jumbles and Chorley Cakes are all examples of regional sweet favourites, plus there are savouries such as Norfolk Lamb Parcel, Arbroath Smokies and Yorkshire Solomon Gundy.
Alexia Robinson, founder of ‘Love British Food’ [the leading national promotion of British food], said: “This is a perfect opportunity to discover the traditional recipes unique to your region and to use them to involve different members of the community.
“It’s a great excuse to get all generations talking. Older generations are likely to have memories of foods and ingredients seldom seen or prepared today – they may even have their own secret recipes. And younger generations will enjoy discovering, making and adapting these long lost or regional dishes.
This year’s winner will be presented with the a ‘Love British Food 2016’ trophy by the Secretary of State, and receive a behind-the-scenes tour and breakfast at Raymond Blanc’s MIchelin starred hotel, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, plus £250 worth of Co-op vouchers and a case of Co-op’s award-winning Les Pionniers champagne.
Chef Raymond Blanc OBE is an ambassador for British Food Fortnight (BFF)