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Regional foods 'in danger of extinction'

TRADITIONAL local produce may be in danger of extinction within a generation.

Patrick McAlindon of Waitrose Hexham

TRADITIONAL local produce may be in danger of extinction within a generation. According to a survey for Waitrose’s Made in Britain campaign, a third of under-24s have not heard of stottie cake, with another third believing the North East flat bread, made from leftover dough baked in the bottom of the oven, is in fact minced eel patties fried in breadcrumbs.

The same ignorance applies to age-old dishes from other regions.

Fears are now being expressed that with changing tastes, cooking skills and farming practices, regional delicacies are in danger of being lost.

Yet one in four in the North East claims to buy regional foods at least once a week and 23% once a month, the survey found. Eighty-four per cent say regional foods are important to them, two-thirds saying it is because they want to support small producers.

Which is why Waitrose in Hexham is supporting the first Journal Taste North East England Campaign Food and Drink Festival at Gibside on Saturday.

The event, in association with the National Trust, will bring 61 food and drink suppliers and producers together on the 400-acre estate near Rowlands Gill.

They will be joined by local celebrity chefs, including Hairy Biker Simon King from Prudhoe, Northumberland, who will pop in for a couple of hours.

Waitrose in Hexham is sponsoring the food demonstration marquee and donating use of an event tent.

It follows the national launch of its Made in Britain campaign to ensure local produce is a fixture for future generations.

The grocery arm of John Lewis, it has a reputation for local produce. Offerings at Hexham include cheeses from Northumberland Cheese Company, Doddington Ice Cream from Wooler, Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes from Cornhill-on-Tweed, Fentiman’s drinks, ready meals from Consett’s Look What We Found, Alnwick IPA beer and Craster kippers. Section manager personnel at Hexham Patrick McAlindon said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring The Journal Taste North East England Campaign Food and Drink Festival because at Waitrose we believe that British produce is amongst the best in the world and local and regional producers are crucial to sustaining an important part of our food heritage.

“This produce should be celebrated to savour – and save – our country’s unique specialities and reward those businesses that have a passion for producing distinctive, local foods.”

Thousands are expected to descend on Gibside for The Journal Taste North East England Campaign Food and Drink Festival, which offers an unparalleled concentration of artisan producers that don’t often find their way to such a major event.

It will whet appetites with game and fish, soups and bread, meats and desserts, chocolates and sweets, vegetables, free range eggs, real ale and wine. The event, 10.30am-3.30pm, also has crafts for children.

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