Abergavenny Food Festival loading now
21-22 SEP 24

Guest line-up puts heart back into hospitality.

Photo: Hywel Griffith – The Beach House, Oxwich Bay, Gower Peninsula

This year’s guest line-up is a gift for anyone buying a stroller ticket. The current situation dictates fewer individually ticketed events (like masterclasses and tutored tastings), but the big plus for Stroller Ticket holders is that AFF’s brilliant and generous guests will be performing on public stages and at outdoor venues for all to see.

Cookery demonstrations will take place in the Market Hall, talks and debate in the Dome and cooking with fire in the grounds of the Castle.

There’s an exciting line-up for both days, so the flat price £10 Stroller Ticket gets equal access and equal rewards on either Saturday 18 or Sunday 19 September. All tickets are for sale online and must be bought in advance. With reduced capacity they’re going fast, so don’t delay. Buy now. No walk-up. Organisers are working hard to ensure a safe experience for all. 

Kim Waters, Chief Executive says, “We are so thrilled to be up and running again after a very difficult time. We know how valuable it is to connect socially. And, of course, we also realise how badly the whole hospitality sector has been hit. Come join us and show your appreciation. Support our growers, producers, chefs, writers and caterers. Shop from over a hundred stalls, take time out to eat great food with friends, learn something new and get inspired. It may be a slightly different event this year, but our reason to be remains the same. On behalf of the Festival I would like to personally thank our headline sponsors: Schroders Personal Wealth, Naked Wines, and Griffiths Civil Engineering and Construction whose support has been crucial.”

So here’s how the programme is shaping up. The website will go live with detailed event information on 1 August. A map with stallholder listings and scheduled events (including guest book-signings) will be available to download nearer the time, and to pick up on the day.


The Robert Price Kitchens Stage in the Market Hall will showcase: Raymond Blanc’s protégé, Chris Harrod (awarded a Michelin Star for The Whitebrook, Monmouthshire) cooking with wild and foraged produce; top food writer Tim Hayward sharing delicious and decadent things you can do with a slice or two of bread; Chetna Makan (Great British Bakeoff) nailing flavours with her ‘Thirty Minute Indian’; and millennials’ answer to Delia Smith and TikTok sensation, Poppy O’Toole, whipping up ‘The Food you Need’.

If a top-notch pie is the way to your heart, check out pastry obsessives Calum Franklin and Nokx Majozi (founders of The Pie Room, Holborn). And there’s a surprise dem from Matt Tebbutt and Olly Smith, hotfooting it from BBC Saturday Kitchen Studio – maybe something from Matt’s new book, ‘Weekend: Eating at Home’ and paired with a delicious concoction from Olly’s ‘Home Cocktail Bible’.

Italophiles Jane Baxter (Wild Artichoke, Kingsbridge) and Christine Smallwood, expert on Italian cuisine, present dishes from Christine’s book ‘Italy’ (the latest from the World Vegetarian series); Hywel Griffith (Michelin-starred, The Beachhouse, Oxwich Bay) highlights harvests of the sea; Vanessa Kimbell, aka ‘Queen of Sourdough’, shares tips from her latest book, and Jenny Chandler, author of ‘Green Kids Cook’, has easy recipes to get youngsters up and running.


There’s nothing quite like the immediacy of cooking with fire – sizzle and spark and scintillating smells… That’s how it will be at the Castle when: Hang Fire Girls, Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn (back by popular demand) rustle up American-style BBQ; James Strawbridge goes veggie with recipes from his book ‘The Complete Vegetable Cookbook: A Seasonal, Zero-waste Guide to Cooking’; AFF legend and all-round hospitality industry hero, Cyrus Todiwala OBE, showcases sea trout and Welsh Lamb; forager Yun Hider combines the fruits of his wanderings; Ollie Hunter (Wheatsheaf, Chilton Foliat – Sustainable Restaurant of the Year) goes green for revolution with veg from local growers, Langtons Farm; while Kathy Slack makes ‘hero’ helda beans the star of the show.  


The programme of events in the Dome at the Castle continues AFF’s drive to deliver informative talks and hard-hitting debate as well as a good measure of entertainment. 

The debate strand kicks off on the Saturday with ‘Route to 2030: taking action now to solve the health, nature and climate crises.’ A panel of leading figures discuss the actions governments in Wales (and other UK nations) are taking that have the potential to bring about real change, exploring how governments can be both practical and radical in face of the challenges ahead. Speakers include: Henry Dimbleby, (Independent Lead, England National Food Strategy), Sophie Howe (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales), Sue Pritchard (Chief Executive of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission – FFCC) and Simon Wright (food writer, restaurateur and broadcaster). The event will be chaired by Jane Davidson, Chair of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s Wales Inquiry.

The pros and cons of a divisive staple will be discussed in ‘Bread – Friend or Foe?’, chaired by Tim Hayward. Participants include Vanessa Kimbell (founder of The Sourdough School) and Rob Penn who’s lived through the whole making process as documented in his recent book ‘Slow Rise: a Breadmaking Adventure’. 

Sunday’s first debate looks at ‘A Different way to Feed Ourselves: how we can adapt our food systems to meet the challenge of climate change.’ Panellists include Dr Angelina Sanderson Bellamy (Associate Professor of Food Systems at UWE Bristol), Chris Smaje (author of Small Farm Future) and Phil Haughton (founder of the Better Food Co and author of Food for Thought: Celebrating the joy of eating well and living better.

Hamstrung by staff shortages and loaded with debt, the hospitality sector is struggling to recover from the pandemic. But was this all foreseeable and what can we done? Industry professionals bring their experiences to the table in ‘The Crisis in Hospitality  – a victim of the pandemic or an accident waiting to happen?’. Calum Franklin (Executive Head Chef, Holborn Dining Room), Nokx Majozi (who heads up The Pie Room there), and Ollie Hunter (former Masterchef semi-finalist and author of ‘Join the Greener Revolution’) are all taking part.

On the talks front, fans of legendary food writer, Claudia Roden, can enjoy watching her live-streamed in discussion with Telegraph columnist Xanthe Clay as they discuss her new book ‘Med’; and Gilly Smith, presenter of podcast ‘Cooking the Books’ has a session lined up with Tim Hayward to get the lowdown on his latest book ‘Loaf Story: A Love Letter to Bread’.

There will also be hands-on workshops for children on both days. Cook School founders Amanda Grant and Kristian Dean are passionate about teaching children to cook healthy, delicious meals from scratch. They’ve also developed a range of home-delivered recipe boxes. A chance to get younger family members fully engaged before having fun at the weekend. Do check out @cookschoolclub.

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