Chefs are on starters’ orders as the clock ticks down to one of the highlights of the fast-approaching Northumberland County Show.
For the past five years The Journal has hosted Taste of the County, a marquee showcasing some of the region’s best food and drink products, at the agricultural event which draws around 25,000 visitors a year.
And helping to satisfy their appetites on its sixth consecutive year, when the county show makes returns on the May 26 Bank Holiday, will be more than 50 food and drink stall-holders who will be joined at Taste of the County by top chefs cooking up wonders with local ingredients in the marquee’s demonstration kitchen.
Among them will be Dave Coulson, the former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist-turned-restauranteur who now runs the Peace & Loaf restaurant in Newcastle, and his business partner, friend and mentor, chef Bob Arora, the proprietor of Sachins in Newcastle. Around 3pm on the big day will see the pair team up again – and Dave can’t wait.
He said: “When Bob and I were invited to demonstrate at the Northumberland County Show we both jumped at the opportunity.
“Great British cuisine is a passion of mine. I take great pride in sourcing the finest, local produce available – I can even be found regularly foraging for ingredients. There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a dish with ingredients that everyone can access.”
Locally-sourced produce is a mainstay of the seasonal menu at his restaurant, where signature dishes explore his new ideas on traditional cuisine.
For Bob too, Northumberland County Show is all about “showcasing all that is great about fresh, British produce”.
At Taste of the County he is eager to show how meticulously-crafted and presented dishes can be created at home with the right ingredients and techniques.
He said: “Nothing excites me more than showing a large audience how easily fine dining can be recreated in the home kitchen.”
Dave added: “It’s always a pleasure to work alongside Bob; even in my own kitchen I still call him chef! Bob has taught me so many things. He’s a great friend as well as a culinary genius. The audiences should expect great things from us, we really work well – we’re like a younger, better-looking version of the Hairy Bikers!”
The pair will be the highlight of the afternoon, but first up in the marquee on the day will be Imamuddin Khan, head chef of the new Haveli restaurant in Ponteland, who’ll be using locally-sourced produce to create modern Indian cuisine based on authentic heritage; followed by Karen Wilkin of Swallow Fish and Kirsty Cruickshank of For The Love of Fish who will be joining forces to create a locally-inspired seasonal dish.
Then MasterChef Live winner and pop-up dining guru Gareth Kyle will have his turn to demonstrate creative flair before a team of chefs from The Duke of Wellington Inn will be whetting appetites as they lead up to the 3pm slot with their take on regional specialities.
For the second year, The Duke of Wellington, in Newton, which is renowned for its track record of employing some of the region’s top chefs, is a co-sponsor - along with Sinton’s LLP - of Taste of the County whose stall-holders this year will be offering everything from meat, fish and vegetables to preserves, beer and cheese.
Among producers showcasing their wares will be Allendale Breweries; Ellie’s CupCake Kitchen, of North Shields, which makes 35 varieties; Chester-le-Street-based Charlie’s Country Kitchen, otherwise known as I Love Pies Me, which is a regular contributor to Newcastle Quayside market and sells such home-made specials as roast gammon with leek pie and a steak and stilton with a hint of port; and JuliansVeg which has been riding out what are tough economic times for any small firm by changing the nature of its business.
Due to rising fuel prices, it has moved away from its initial offering of a home delivery box service to focus on selling its seasonal fruit and local vegetables in its seven-days-a-week Kelso shop, farmers’ markets and weekly Morpeth market.
Among the newcomers who have signed up this year as stall-holders are rising talents in the baking world: three more local artisan bread-making businesses.
One of them is Bread and Roses of Powburn, near Alnwick, whose specialist range of artisan breads includes rye sourdoughs, such as black pumpernickel, and naturally-leavened, including toasted brazil nut with prune, all made in a wood-fired brick oven. Northumberland County Show will open at 9am and run until 6pm at Bywell, near Stocksfield, Northumberland.
For full details visit www.northcountyshow.co.uk . For more information on Taste of the County or to book a trade stand contact Lesley Hampson on 0191 201 6435 or email firstname.lastname@example.org