Organisers of the hugely popular Bishop Auckland Food Festival have confirmed a trio of celebrity chefs will headline the event’s Saturday line-up.
The festival, run by Durham County Council, pulled in a record 30,000 visitors last year and returns to the town on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 April.
A weekend of delicious food and fantastic entertainment is in store, with some well-known faces taking to the stage throughout.
First up is chef, presenter and cookery book author, Phil Vickery.
Having been part of the ITV This Morning family for over 22 years, Phil is firmly regarded as one of Britain’s favourite chefs.
After starting his career as a commis chef at The Burlington Hotel on Folkestone seafront, Phil worked his way up the kitchen ranks.
Phil has worked in Michael’s Nook hotel in Grasmere, the Michelin starred Gravetye Manor in East Grinstead and Ian McAndrew’s Michelin starred restaurant, 74, in Canterbury.
As head chef of The Castle hotel in Taunton, Phil won an incredible string of accolades including a Michelin star and 4 Rosettes in the AA guide.
He’s been a fixture on the nation’s television screens too, appearing on Ready Steady Cook, Proof of the Pudding, Phil Vickery’s Pudding Club, and Save Money: Good Diet.
As one of the longest standing chefs on ITV This Morning, he presents live and pre-recorded cookery items as well as his own cookery segments from locations across the globe.
An award-winning author, Phil is also a leading authority on gluten-free products and the National Food Ambassador for Coeliac UK.
Phil will share Saturday’s stage with Rachel Allen, a bestselling cookery writer, TV chef and celebrated teacher at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork.
Raised in Dublin, Rachel studied at Ballymaloe from the age of 18, remaining after graduation to cook at the Ballymaloe House Hotel and Restaurant.
She then set off to cook around the world, returning afterwards to Ballymaloe to work at the cookery school. It was there she found her passion for teaching, where she continues to lecture to this day.
Rachel is a popular figure in the culinary world, with an international audience for her bestselling cookery books and food writing, her live demonstrations, and her much-loved television programmes.
Rachel’s first book and accompanying TV series, Rachel’s Favourite Food, was published and broadcast in 2004. Her books have sold more than one million copies worldwide.
She currently co-hosts The Restaurant alongside Marco Pierre White for RTE and writes a weekly food column for the Sunday Independent.
Saturday’s fun will continue with Janusz Domagala, aka “Janusz”, the stand-out star of 2022’s Great British Bake Off.
Having moved to the UK from Poland 11 years ago, the 34-year-old baker not only achieved his dream of appearing on the show but also went through to the semi-finals.
Janusz’s popularity with the British and international public has grown throughout his journey, and he was named one of Heat magazine’s 2022 Stars of the Year.
A keen LGBT+ activist, Janusz has featured on CBBC’s Saturday Mashup and was a guest in the Christmas special of Channel 4’s The Last Leg.
All three celebrity chefs will be wowing visitors with their mouth-watering food demonstrations on Saturday 22 April.
And they’ll be joined by crowd favourite and TV presenter Chris Bavin, who returns as host.
Chris co-presents BBC One’s popular series Eat Well for Less? alongside Jordan Banjo and is a regular on The One Show.
He’s also presented Tomorrow’s Food with Dara O’Brian, Food: Truth or Scare with Gloria Hunniford, and was a judge on Britain’s Best Home Cook with Mary Berry.
Sunday’s celebrity guests are set to be announced very soon, along with details of all of the food traders, family entertainment, and cookery workshops.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “The Bishop Auckland Food Festival is one of the most popular in the region and it’s a real highlight of our annual events calendar.
“Last year was the biggest yet, with glorious weather helping us attract around 30,000 visitors across the weekend. That’s a record high and it shows there’s clearly a huge appetite for it!
“To pull in those kinds of numbers is a massive boost for the town.
“Of course, the presence of the celebrity chefs is always a big draw and today’s announcement confirming the first three lined-up for this year means the countdown to the weekend of 22 and 23 April is well and truly under way.
“There are more big names still to come but it’s not all about the big names – we’ve got all kinds of wonderful food traders, workshops and entertainment up our sleeves too. It’s definitely a case of ‘watch this space’.”
Bishop Auckland Food Festival is just one of the many cultural events taking place in County Durham this year, cementing Durham’s position as the ‘culture county’ and demonstrating the county council’s ongoing commitment to cultural-led regeneration.
This includes delivering key projects within County Durham’s shortlisted UK City of Culture bid; progressing major capital projects and raising the county’s profile as a fantastic place to live, work, visit and invest.
Bishop Auckland Food Festival is supported by Bishop Auckland Town Council and Durham County Council’s Towns & Villages programme.