A month after foodies’ plans were washed out as rain scuppered the Taste of Edinburgh festival, it’s time again to pick up a plate for another culinary celebration.
The three-day Foodies festival returns to the Capital from Friday at Inverleith Park, featuring a menu bursting with choices including chef demonstrations and food masterclasses, as well as an appearance by nine-year-old school dinners blogging sensation Martha Payne.
Top chefs such as Michelin-starred Jeff Bland from The Balmoral Hotel, Great British Menu contestant Mark Greenaway, Mattia Camorani from Cucina at Hotel Missoni and Scottish Chef of the Year 2011 Neil Forbes from Cafe St Honoré will cook signature dishes live in the Chef’s Theatre and explain how amateur cooks can prepare the same dishes at home.
As well as culinary lessons from the experts, Fringe acts Lucy Porter, Tim Vine and Stephen K Amos, who has competed on Celebrity Masterchef, will be donning chef hats and cooking with comedy.
Chef Stuart Muir, who heads the Forth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols, said he planned to cook a summery dish in spite of the recent wash-out weather.
The 43-year-old said: “I’ll be making a Tarbert lobster salad with caramelised watermelon, grapefruit jelly, smoked sea salt, coconut shavings, caramelised gooseberries and lots of mixed leaves, I just hope the weather is better than Taste.
“It’s always good to see chefs doing demonstrations. Customers are always interested in what we do, and they ask the chefs questions. Foodies is like a farmers’ market but with chefs included, so it’s the full package.”
Jeff Bland, who runs the kitchen at the Balmoral Hotel, said he hoped to inspire more people to enjoy cooking, as well as revealing the hidden world of a chef.
Mr Bland, 58, said: “Hopefully by coming they will get tips and maybe get a bit of inspiration. People can watch chefs like myself and think ‘I can do that’.
“I’m thinking of making a lamb dish. This is Scotland, beef is big and venison is becoming stronger and lamb always sits there in the middle.
“[If you come along] I think you’ll see something that you can’t see every day because we are all hiding in the kitchen and it will give an insight into what we do. If you go away with just one thing, that will be a great day’s work.”
Despite having worked as a chef since he was just 15, and presiding over a world-famous, Michelin-starred eatery, Mr Bland is endearingly modest about his culinary talents.
“I’ve been cooking for a long time and I’m getting better – give it another 20 years!”
Joining the chefs will be schoolgirl Martha, of food blog NeverSeconds, who will give a demo and talk about her experiences of writing about her daily school lunches, as well as how it felt to get messages of support from Jamie Oliver and gain more than two million website hits at the age of nine.
The popular food and drinks masterclasses invite visitors to be among the first in the UK to sample new products and brush up on their skills as well as learn new tips and techniques. There are 100 places available at each session, where experts will be sharing their knowledge and giving out samples.
Over the course of the weekend there will be classes from Hendricks Gin, delicious delicacies with Caledonian Oysters, East Lothian veg with The Gardener’s Cottage, wonderful wines with expert Charles Metcalfe and traditional Jamaican street food with The Backyard Company.
New to Foodies this year is the Children’s Cookery Theatre, where youngsters will be encouraged to cook up a storm. On Saturday and Sunday there will be all sorts of gastronomic experiments going on to keep the children occupied.
Top Malaysian chef Norman Musa of Ning restaurants will be running the Malaysian Kitchen – a pop-up cookery school teaching the art of Malaysian cuisine on Friday and Saturday.
Also new is the City Beach – complete with sand, deckchairs and beach-huts selling ice-cream, tea and cocktails – Street Food Avenue, serving quality dishes from around the globe, and the Great Taste Market, selling award- winning goods from the UK’s top producers.
Other features for food-lovers include restaurant tents, bars, a producers’ market and an exhibitors’ area.
Throughout the weekend there will be live music on the entertainment stage, including performances from Fringe acts The Blues Brothers and The Rat Pack.
Sue Hitchen, of the Foodies Festival, said: “We are excited to be holding Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park next weekend, with Michelin-starred Chef of the Year Jeff Bland heading up the Chef’s Theatre and cooking his favourite summer recipes. Also cooking will be top comedians Tim Vine, Lucy Porter and Stephen K Amos.
“New to Foodies this year is a Malaysian cook school with Norman Musa, the UK’s top Malaysian chef teaching visitors how to cook a range of Malaysian dishes.
“I am really delighted that NeverSeconds blogger Martha Payne will be coming along to Foodies Festival next weekend and joining us in the Kids Cookery Theatre.”