Everything you need to know about Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival 2021
- Credit: Andy Abbott
One of the biggest food events not just in Suffolk, but within the UK, is back this month – and organisers are overjoyed.
Following a specialist market (which stood in its place in 2020) Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival returns to the Snape Maltings site on September 25 and 26, promising lots of family fun, and a celebration of the joy of cooking and eating.
Organiser Jess Brown, who steps down in 2021 after 10 years, cannot wait to welcome visitors back.
Reflecting on the past 18 months, she says: “I think in some ways last year it was nice to do the market event. It meant we could still support those who wanted to be out there. Although the weather was horrendous and we were in the middle of a pandemic, people still showed up. I don’t know if it was because they really wanted to get out and do things, or if it’s because they wanted to get behind those businesses, but it was fantastic.
“I think what we learned from last year was that food has become even more important to people. More of us were cooking, and gardening and even taking up keeping chickens during lockdown, and the festival will really tap into these things this year. We’ll have talks about gardening, and small animal welfare alongside our guest chefs.
“The reality is, our lives have changed forever and some of those things are positive in how they make us feel. So the festival this year is about celebrating the fact we can eat out, cook together and learn together again.”
Which producers are are Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival 2021?
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Aspall – Suffolk cyder
B Chocolates – Salted honey caramels and seasonal fruit truffles
Casa De L’Oli - The finest pressed olive oils in flavours such as green chilli, garlic and lemon, plus tapenades, vinegars, and olive wood crafts
Deepmills – Freshly roasted coffee beans, and single origin chocolate bars in flavours such as liquorice, lemon and coffee
Fen Farm Dairy – Award-winning producers of Baron Bigod brie-style cheese, skyr, mascarpone, raw butter and raw milk
High House Fruit Farm – Beautiful, fresh seasonal fruits direct from the farm
Hilton Macarons – Delicate French-style macarons in a range of flavours
LA Brewery – The ‘it’ drink – naturally flavoured, no added sugar kombucha
Truly Traceable – Gorgeous, multi-award-winning pies, made from scratch with the finest buttery pastry, filled with their own shot game, or other local produce
The Adnams Experience
Renowned Suffolk brewer Adnams will be giving real insight into the brand, its products, values and sustainability as part of the festival this year. “They’ll be coming down with their electric bike, and their beekeeper, and they’ll even be doing some yoga,” says Jess. “The idea is, we known Adnams as a brand, but what do we really know about their inner workings? They do so much in Suffolk, and the festival is a good place to tell some of those stories. They are big, but they’re also really local as well – this showed during the pandemic when they were giving alcohol to make sanitiser. We want visitors to see how amazing they are.”
Family activities at Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival 2021
“We are really trying to bring that festival vibe,” says Jess, “so we’ve put together this new family area which we are so so excited about. We’ve had a family section before, but it’s always been connected to a business, whereas this year it felt fitting to have a bigger area – a proper family space with lots of things going on for local people and visitors. So we’ve got a big inflatable tractor, cooking over fire, and a role play area for younger kids where they can pretend to shop.
“There’s also a stage with music and food-related workshops and storytelling.”
Which chefs will be at Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival this year?
Jess says she’s proud there’s a strong female line up in 2021, and she’s delighted to welcome back old friends, while also introducing new faces.
“It’s so wonderful when people want to return. Like Thomasina Miers. She brings her whole family and it’s kind of like they’re a part of the festival now. She is so busy, with her columns and a new book coming out, but she loves our festival. It fells like we must be doing something right when people so active in the food community are drawn to us time and time again. We’re just a little festival and a small team – it means so much.
“I’m looking forward to Mitch Grows being at the festival. He used to be a chef and is now on this venture growing organic. It’s so interesting and really different to what we’ve had before. He’s doing a masterclass and demos, and I think those are going to be so unique. He’ll be using lion’s mane mushrooms to make crab cakes.
“Someone else to look out for is Anna Greenland. She’s a horticulturalist who used to be the head gardening for Raymond Blanc and lots of other chefs. She's setting up a business here in Suffolk and has just released a book about growing in containers.”
The Tiptree Lifestyle Stage- Saturday
10am Vanessa Kimbell
10.45am Chetna Makan
11.30am Anna Greenland
12.15pm Honey & Co
1pm Niche Cocktails
2pm Galton Blackiston
2.45pm Jenny Chandler
3.30pm Can we eat to save the planet?
4.14pm Olia Hercules
The Tiptree Lifestyle Stage - Sunday
10am Rachel De Thample
10.45am Mitch Mcculloch
11.30am Joe Hurd
1pm Wellbeing with Alex Hurt of Weaver’s House Spa
2pm L’Escargot Sur Mer
Co-op Community Kitchen - Saturday
10am Joseph Trivelli
10.45am Emma Crowhurst
11.30am East of England Co-op - Food justice for all
12.15pm Thomasina Miers
1pm Joe Hurd
2pm Ravinder Bhogal
2.45pm L’Escargot Sur Mer
3.30pm Drinking in the 21st century
4.15pm - Galton Blackiston
Co-op Community Kitchen - Sunday
10am Jenny Chandler
10.45 Joe Trivelli
11.30am East of England Co-op - Food justice for all
1pm Niche Cocktails
2pm Chetna Makan
2.45pm Olia Hercules
Masterclasses and workshops at Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival
Many of the masterclass sessions have already sold out, so check the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival website for up-to-date information. The classes each have a fee in addition to the entry tickets and must be booked in advance.
A nice one to try, says Jess, is the food photography workshop with Jemma Watts, who’s worked with big-name chefs, creating images for their books. She’ll be teaming up with a chef, cooking a meal, and demonstrating how to use a camera phone to get the best-looking pictures.
“We’ve got lots of collaborations,” Jess adds. We’re working with people like PA Mobbs, who are launching a new venture on their farm, Fire and Feast, next spring. They’re going to be giving a taster at the festival. We love working with businesses like this.”
There are still places on the following masterclasses:
Kimchi parathas with Ravinder Bhogal (Saturday, 11.30am)
Capture your passion for food (Saturday, 3pm)
Kombucha chutney with Rachel De Thample (Sunday, 11.30am)
Lion’s mane mushroom ‘crab cakes’ with Mitch McCulloch (Sunday, 1.30pm)
Pasta with Joe Trivelli (Sunday, 3pm)
New food and drink producers to see at Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival
The start-up area has been a fantastic springboard for many businesses over the years says Jess, who reveals it’s one of the parts of the festival she’s most proud of.
“We have some really interesting people coming this year. Some have emerged from the pandemic, but there are also businesses who’ve taken a fresh look at what they do, because of the pandemic. I love that there are companies who were previously in this area, who can’t come this year because they’re so busy. We embrace that. It’s what the festival is all about. And it gives us that rejuvenation every time.”
Look out for:
Agora Aperitif – A brand new Vermouth-style drink made in small batches in Suffolk, with notes of rose, star anise and cinnamon.
Bruha – Three beers made with East Anglian malted barley
Burger Jam – Gourmet, hand-pressed burgers in brioche buns
Carmello’s Coffee – A cute converted trailer serving coffee and cake
Crafty River Brewing – Low sugar, low calorie, low alcohol hard seltzers made in Bures – flavours include lemon and ginger, and lime and cucumber
Fellows – Produce from their 70 acre, off-grid, organic farm, where there’s a bakery, weaving studio, vineyard, campsite and market garden
Gro Bros – Micro herbs
Hullaballoo – Vegan food from the award-winning Ipswich café
Indigo – Interesting gourmet preserves and chutneys, plus delightful miniature cakes
Smokebox – Higher welfare meat, smoked and cooked over fire
Sunday Charcuterie – Cured whole meats and salamis, made in Suffolk using high welfare meat from local smallholdings
Suffolk Smoothie Co – Whole fruit smoothies, with no added nasties
Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival 2021 tickets
Tickets are £10, or free for accompanied under 15s. The festival is open 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday, September 25, and until 4pm on Sunday. Get your tickets at aldeburghfoodanddrink.co.uk