Though social distancing means meeting in real life is currently out of the question, the complete programme for the Virtual Abergavenny Food Festival 2020 (14th – 20th September) is now live, promising a week packed full of lively debates, inspiration and food for thought.
A collection of top chefs, cooks, food writers, producers and masters of their trade will gather online to share their stories, passions and insider knowledge with hundreds of online attendees.
Since its inception, the Abergavenny Food Festival has grown its audience from 3,000 visitors to become the largest food festival in Wales with over 35,000 attendees last year, showcasing the very best food and drink from Wales and across the world.
It was created in 1999 by two local farmers in response to the BSE crisis and the resulting lack of consumer confidence in British produce. With the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001, difficulties worsened and pushed the Festival forward in terms of showcasing the wonderful food Wales has to offer, and the passion of the people who produce it.
Abergavenny Food Festival now enjoys a reputation as a place for chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers and food producers to come together, and it aims to transform the way people think about food; challenging and promoting new ideas, pushing the boundaries of current thinking and encouraging people to look differently at where their food comes from.
Over the years, the festival has attracted top food heavyweights such as: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc, Magnus Nillsson, Sandor Katz Monica Galetti, José Pizarro, Asma Khan and Valentine Warner, to name but a few. I visited for the first time in 2017 and absolutely loved it – you can read about my first experience here. I went back in 2018, and in 2019, I freelanced as part of the festival team and even ran my own food blogging masterclass as part of their weekend schedule of events.
So, although gathering in Abergavenny town centre is out of the question this year, I am so glad that the organisers have pulled out all the stops to create a week’s worth of online events – and the best part, is that most of them are completely free to join.
The Virtual Abergavenny Food Festival 2020 – Full Schedule
On Monday 14th September at 7pm, long-time festival friend Kate Humble will be kick things off with her talk, A Year of Living Simply. Kate will be interviewed by BBC Wales Economics Correspondent Sarah Dickins, and will look at the way that having ‘stuff’ is all too often peddled as the sure-fire route to happiness. To sign up for Kate’s talk, click here. Attendees will also have a chance to win a signed copy of the book.
On Tuesday 15th September at 6.30pm, Carolyn Steel will be in conversation with writer and broadcaster Sheila Dillon, taking a look at why a good food revolution is needed, and how we can ‘build back better’ through food. To sign up for Carolyn’s talk, click here. Attendees on the night will also have a chance to win a signed copy of her new book, Sitopia.
On Wednesday 16th September at 6pm, Sabrina Ghayour – chef, cookery teacher and best selling author – will host a cook-along class demonstrating how to make her much-loved staple of Persian cuisine, Maast-o-esfenaj – spinach & yogurt with walnuts. To receive the ingredients list and to sign up for Sabrina’s class, click here. Attendees on the night will also have the chance to win a signed copy of her latest cookbook, SIMPLY.
At 7.30pm, join Kate Jenkins as she tells the story of Gower Cottage Brownies, her kitchen table business that has grown into so much more. In the spirit of the Abergavenny Food Festival, Kate will send out 100 Gower Cottage Brownie gift boxes to random attendees – sign up to her Online Food Business masterclass here.
On Thursday 17th September at 4pm, join food writer, stylist and cook Anna Jones for AFF’s version of Gardener’s question time, but with vegetables! Anna will take you through the veg in peak season now, ideas for what to do with a glut, and how to cook more unusual veg varieties. Sign up here.
Later that evening, transport yourself to the Chase Distillery with an exhilarating tour and tasting event from the comfort of your sofa. Tasting “supplies” can be ordered from the distillery by clicking here – sign up to the free event by clicking here. Attendees on the night will also have the chance to win some delicious prizes.
On Friday 18th September at 6.30pm, Olive Oil sommelier Bob Curbishley will guide attendees through an Olive Oil Masterclass. To order a tasting pack of olive oils for this event, visit Belazu, and sign up for your free space at the online tasting here.
At 7.30pm, join beer and cider experts Pete Brown and Susanna Forbes for a tasting of craft beer, cider and perry from Wales. Please click here for details on what the pair will be tasting, and info on how to order your own supplies from our friends at Discover Delicious.
Saturday 19th September
Festival weekend kicks off with the Cook School Club at 10.30am – a chance for your child to cook along with Amanda and Kristian, the co-founders of Cook School. To sign up click here.
This is followed at 3pm by a chef demo from Cyrus Todiwala and Mike Warner in the Café Namasté Kitchen – cooking up a storm with Welsh Seafood sourced from the Port to Plate team. To sign up, click here.
At 4pm, join Caws Cenarth Master Cheesemaker Carwyn Adams direct from his dairy in the Teifi valley, who will be joined by the irrepressible Fiona Beckett to taste some wonderful Welsh cheeses with matched tipples. Sign up by clicking here, and purchase your cheeses direct from Caws Cenarth by clicking here.
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On Saturday 19th September at 4pm we will be taking part in a Cheese and Wine Tasting event online with @food_writer Fiona Beckett and the Abergavenny Food Festival @afoodfestival We have the Cheese tasting packs or the complete Cheese and Wine tasting packs available on our website now (see link in bio ⬆️) So, if you want to start your Saturday evening off with our guided event and carry on into the evening with some delicious wines and Cheeses, then this is the place to be! #abergavennyfoodfestival #fionabeckett #winetasting #ukwine #welshfood #cheeseandwine #weekendideas #weekend #weekendvibes @apple_county @afonmeluk #welshwine #welshcider #cider #wine #sparklingrosé #winetasting #winenight
At 5pm the Food & Agricultural Debate will look at Agriculture in all its forms – will it be “fit” for future generations? Very different systems produce very different outcomes. In the absence of this years fireworks, maybe we will get to see some at this event! Sign up for your place by clicking here.
At 6.30pm, join us for what promises to be an action-packed talk on all things bread, and a chance to ask award-winning writer and broadcaster Tim Hayward a few questions along the way. Attendees will also have a chance to win signed copies of Tim’s new book, LOAF STORY- A Love-Letter to Bread. To sign up, click here.
Sunday 20th September
Sunday’s festival programme kicks off at 10.30am with another session at the Cook School Club at 10.30am – to nab a place for you and the family, click here.
At 11.30am, join Ollie Hunter, (Chef, restauranteur and author of the book ’30 Easy Ways to Join the Food Revolution: A sustainable cookbook’) visits the Langton’s Farm in Crickhowell – an organic, start-up farm that’s already in production providing veg boxes to the community. Take a tour of the farm and watch Ollie cook a delicious dahl made on-site with super-fresh produce, by clicking here.
At 3pm, join chef Hywel Griffiths for a demonstration in his Michelin starred kitchen at The Beach House, followed by a Q&A on all things food from the Gower – and beyond. To sign up, click here.
At 5pm, writer, broadcaster and restauranteur Simon Wright leads the charge to talk about issues around the restaurant business with a discussion on Today’s restaurants – do we need them? Get involved – and come armed with some questions – by signing up here.
All events at the Virtual Abergavenny Food Festival 2020 are free to attend, but spaces will be limited, so booking for each event as soon as possible is highly recommended. Running over 7 days from 14th September, there will be multiple events each day. All events are free to attend apart from the tutored tastings where product can be purchased direct from the supplier.