Sunderland’s first food and drink festival is underway.
The three day festival which began this morning and runs through until 4 pm on Sunday, is expected to attract thousands of people into the city to enjoy tasty treats, street food and speciality food and drinks.
Visitors can also enjoy live cookery demonstrations from celebrity chefs, music and street entertainment. Michelin-starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli is the headline act at the Sunderland Food and Drink Festival.
Jean-Christophe who has catered for royalty, heads of state, Hollywood stars and celebrities, will be cooking up a storm with his speciality dishes in the Demonstration Marquee at the heart of the event in Keel Square at 12 noon, 2 pm and 4 pm on Saturday. Katy Ashworth, from CBeebies will be doing live cookery demonstrations at the same venue at 11 am and 1 pm on Sunday.
Dean Edwards, TV chef and author, as seen on Masterchef, This Morning and Lorraine will be taking to the stage with his masterclass at 12 noon and 2 pm the same day. While early bird visitors to the festival today will be able to enjoy cookery demonstrations from Washington born chef Ryan Riley, who earlier this month opened the UK’s first cookery school for cancer patients at Mowbray Lodge in Mowbray Park.
For a full list of events and timings visit: https://www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/sundfoodfest
Elsewhere in the city centre, High St West, Market Square and Blandford Street are home to a variety of stalls with some offering local produce from local traders, street food and speciality food and drinks plus music and street entertainment.
The event is free to attend and is funded and organised by Sunderland City Council, Sunderland BID and RR Events.
Councillor John Kelly, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “We’re delighted to be hosting our very first food and drink festival in partnership with Sunderland BID and RR Events.
“This builds on the success of events like the award winning Tall Ships Races which brought in the region of 1.2 million visitors to the city last summer, the Airshow, the Illuminations and Festival of Light, and more recently the Leonardo exhibition which all contribute to Sunderland’s growing reputation as an events city.
“After such a huge year of events last year, we did a lot of research to see what other kind of events people would like to see in Sunderland and food festivals featured highly. So its fantastic to be able to follow up last month’s Scrantastic food festival in Houghton with this event.
“We hope that people will come from near and far to enjoy the food festival and the other city centre events planned for this summer including an Active Sunderland festival in Mowbray Park on Wednesday 31 July and a city centre music festival towards the end of September.”
Recent work to make sure that Sunderland is looking its best for residents and visitors alike over the summer have included the commencement of a city centre deep clean, bunting, flower filled planters in Market Square, Borough Road and Fawcett Street, hanging baskets along Fawcett Street and planted barrier troughs on Vine Place and Holmeside.
This ties in with major plans to improve the city centre, with half a billion pounds of private and public sector funding set to be invested in its transformation by 2030.