Final preparations are being made for Falmouth Oyster Festival, which takes place from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th October. The Festival brings together a blend of esteemed local chefs, hardworking oyster fishermen, food and drink enthusiasts and an eclectic mix of musicians, all in celebration of the start of Falmouth’s unique oyster fishery season.
Thursday is a full day of culinary activity and Cornish seafood. Award-winning chef Chris Eden will open the festival sharing his secrets of Michelin star success and Juan Jose Gonzalez Leon, originally from Tenerife, brings a bit of Mediterranean flair to the afternoon. Then Matt Slater, a Marine Awareness Officer from Cornwall Wildlife Trust returns to share an update on the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide project, joined by Nick Hemming, Catering Development Manager at St Austell Brewery, who will be demonstrating some great recipes for Cornish sustainable seafood.
On Friday, George Pascoe, from Philleigh Way, a Cornish farmer’s son, guarantees a down to earth and fun demonstration and Nick Hodges returns in the afternoon. Currently working at The Greenbank Hotel, Nick has been delivering demonstrations at the Oyster Festival since day one. A firm believer in simple and stylish dishes, Nick has garnered press recognition and accolades for his delicious, seasonal creations.
To finish off the day, if you are serious about cooking fish, don’t miss Annie Sibert’s cookery master class. “My underlying passion is to get people cooking more fish and using the best quality seafood in the world, which is on our doorstep” says Annie from My Fish Kitchen. “All of these fabulous chefs cook this amazing product to inspire us all and not forgetting the use of our stunning native oyster, which they are using in such creative ways more and more each year”.
On Saturday the festival welcomes back Paul Wadham from Hotel Tresanton. Over the past fourteen years, Paul has managed to create a passionate kitchen, using the best locally sourced ingredients. He believes that the passion comes from the heart, through the hands and onto the plate. St Michael’s Hotel and Spa chef will be in the afternoon, followed by a second chance to gain top seafood skills from Annie.
Sunday sees Arty Williams return to the stage. This year Arty’s demonstration will be filmed for inclusion in Hot Shots from Hot Spots, a foodservice video for Tabasco and in the afternoon, Bruce Rennie from The Shore Restaurant in Penzance will provide the final demonstration of the festival. Bruce moved to Cornwall from Edinburgh in 2009 where, as one of Scotland’s leading chefs, he led the kitchen at Martin Wishart’s Michelin-starred restaurant and set up the Wishart Cook School. Enjoy a multitude of practical tips and insider knowledge on how things work in the kitchen of a top restaurant.
Wielding knives, whisks and saucepans, last years Hot Chef Challenge was a very close call. In support of Shelterbox, on Friday evening the culinary battle returns with Arty Williams and Nick Hodges competing for this year’s champion title.
If you’re more about sampling food than cooking it, there is a host of food and drink stalls offering local delicacies and pride of place must go of course to Cornish seafood and in particular the humble oyster, the star of the show. Not to be missed is the annual oyster shucking competition. Competitors will have to prove their skill in shucking oysters by opening and displaying 12 native oysters as quickly as possible without compromising on quality.
In addition to the daily cookery demonstrations, local food and craft stalls, sea shanties and live music and annual oyster parade, this year the Festival celebrates its 20th year with an extra entertainment line up including the cool retro tones of The Grace Notes and energetic jump jive tunes from Company B.
To round off the festival Sunday sees the Oyster Working Boat Race take to the water. With the oyster season running from October to March, the festival’s race is the last before the hard graft begins – a great way to draw the annual celebrations to a close.