Foodies flock to Kirkcudbright

Niamh Kenny from Kirkcudbright meets Nick Nairn.
Niamh Kenny from Kirkcudbright meets Nick Nairn.

With an appearance by one of Scotland’s most famous chefs, around 3000 people visiting over the weekend - and even a mention in the Scottish Parliament, it’s no wonder the Kirkcudbright Food Festival has been hailed a huge success by organisers.

Organised by local charity Kirkcudbright Summer Festivities, the new-look food festival put the region’s larder in the spotlight, showcasing the quality of Dumfries & Galloway food and drink while introducing festival goers to the people behind the produce.

The programme of talks, debates and demonstrations was headlined by celebrity chef Nick Nairn and it also included over 30 Dumfries & Galloway based food producers, many of them taking to the stage for the first time to talk about the passion that fuels their artisan food production.

Festival co-organiser Nick Morris of the soon to open Station House Cookery School said it was quality local produce that was the star of the festival.

He said: “I’m thrilled that so many people came along to hear talks by local producers including some of the newest producers in the region, like Salad Brew and Upper Senwick. These businesses are just starting out on their food journeys but they are already doing really exciting things, producing top quality food that we should all be supporting.

“I’m so pleased that we were able to give local producers a platform to explain why their food and drink is so special. Dumfries & Galloway has an outstanding local food culture and in terms of quality the local produce here is simply world class. What was nice about this weekend was the very clear support for the local producers - we had packed venues with people eager to hear direct from the producers themselves and the feedback from the businesses who took part has been tremendous.”

More than 30 local food and drink producers took part by hosting talks and demonstrations, manning catering and trade stands and taking part in events, debates and challenges over the weekend. John Finch of Saucy Desserts, who took part in the omelette challenge and the Producer’s Marquee, said:

“The Kirkcudbright Food Festival was a huge success for us, very busy but with time to chat. Everything just seemed to fit just right - a great atmosphere all round and it felt like a united crowd with stall holders, customers and celebs happy, relaxed and as one. Really well done to the organisers for putting on a seamless festival that has laid a marker for future success.”

Visitors too were full of praise for the event, with feedback forms including comments such as:

“Fantastic event! Didn’t realise there were so many entertaining folks in the area providing such fantastic food – well done to the organisers!” and “A priceless experience, such encyclopaedic knowledge.”

South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper congratulated organisers last week by lodging a motion in the Scottish Parliament, which noted that the Parliament ‘hopes that the food festival will be an annual event in the area’s food and drink calendar for many years to come’.

The motion has been backed by other local MSPs including Joan McAlpine and Colin Smyth.

Emma Harper attended a number of events at the festival and speaking afterwards said: “The food festival made for a fantastic day out. I met many local businesses, and stocked up on delicious products like By Heck Jam and Cocoa Kalula luxury handcrafted chocolates. I also stopped by Annette’s Baking in a Box and Kirkpatrick’s Kitchen. I even completed the 3 minute omelette challenge, and Nick Nairn helped me make the best omelette of the festival!

“Food and Drink is so important to our economy and way of life in the south west, so I am always ready to support fantastic events like these which do so much to promote local producers.

“I really want to congratulate the organisers who have worked so hard to make sure this event went ahead. I hope that this fantastic festival will be an annual event in the south west’s food and drink calendar for many years to come.”

Niomi Brough who co-organised the Food Festival said: “Thanks go to everyone who visited, participated and helped to make the festival such a resounding success. It was a real thrill to see people listen, learn, try and be inspired by the outstanding food and drink showcased throughout the weekend. Quite a few of our food producers completely sold out of produce, and many more have picked up new customers who will help our local food industry to grow and thrive over the coming years.

“It was heartening to hear the genuine praise from Nick Nairn for the quality and the breadth of produce on offer at the festival. As one of the most experienced food festival demonstrators in the country Nick Nairn is well placed to judge the potential of Kirkcudbright Food Festival, and it was just fantastic to hear such warm words of encouragement from him in terms of the quality of our local produce, and the huge potential he sees for Kirkcudbright Food Festival.”

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Pictured left to right are Emma Harper MSP, Graham Nichol and Niomi Brough, co-organiser.

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Crowds flocked to the Producer’s Marquee. Picture: CRAIG JOHNSON

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Nick Morris cooks the perfect steak. Picture: CRAIG JOHNSON

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Niamh Kenny from Kirkcudbright meets Nick Nairn.