Boycie enjoys the Chefs Table Hospitality at Ludlow Food Festival

More than 20,000 people enjoyed the best food and drink from Shropshire and the Marches at Ludlow Food Festival.

They enjoyed demonstrations, met producers, bought from vendors and feasted on great produce at a pop-up restaurant, called The Chef’s Table. The event was hailed a success by organisers, who described the 2012 Ludlow Food Festival as being the biggest and best ever. Festival boss Phil Maile said: “The Food Festival has gone from strength to strength, without ever losing its original ethos.

“When we started the event we wanted to help Ludlow and local producers. We have always avoided going down the corporate route, we’re a not-for-profit event and our aim has always been to help producers in Ludlow and the Marches.

“We have a number of schemes that provide support for local producers, including our bursary for up-and-coming producers.”

This year’s event took place under sunny skies and TV chefs The Hairy Bikers were the special guests on Saturday, visiting Ludlow to film a new TV programme and thrilling crowds by judging the Ludlow Sausage Trail.

The Chef’s Table Restaurant also proved popular, as visitors to the event enjoyed the finest local produce from a number of Shropshire producers and local chefs.

James Day, joint operator of The Chef’s Table, said: “The restaurant was extremely popular at lunchtimes, during our afternoon tea service and at evenings, when people enjoyed gourmet dinners.

“We had a number of exceptional chefs, from the Midlands and further afield, who served up some wonderful creations each evening. Friday saw Chef David Kelman of Ellenborough Park in the Cotswolds, cook with Chef Tom Court of the Granary Hotel Restaurant in Worcestershire, and Michelin Starred Chris Hruskova form London. Friday saw Award Winning Thai Chef Suree Coates cooking Wild monkfish and prawn Green curry, and Adam Bateman’s Light Horn Lamb dish, from Nuthurst Grange in Warwickshire alongside Michelin-inspired dishes such as Alex Penhaligons ‘deconstructed Jaffa cake, from Hotel La tour in Birmingham – all in celebration of Relish Cook Books. We were also pleased to help local charities, raising money for the Ludlow-based British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

“The quality of the food was astounding – and we also welcomed a special guest, the actor John Challis, who plays Boycie, in Only Fools And Horses, who enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea. We enjoyed operating the restaurant and will talk to the directors of Ludlow Food Festival with a view to returning in 2013.”

Festival operations director Beth Heath said the event had been an unqualified success. She said local traders had enjoyed a busy weekend and there had been plenty of visitors from both Shropshire and from further afield.

Mrs Heath said: “The event keeps on improving and we were delighted with the 2012 version. It was great fun all weekend and people really enjoyed themselves.

“The festival provides a very important boost for local producers, who sell their produce and also develop a new group of customers. Our thoughts are already turning to our Spring Festival and we are also looking forward to next year’s event.”