Cambridge’s local food and drink scene was celebrated with another successful Eat Cambridge festival, organised by Heidi White with the help of her team of volunteers. The Main Event kicked off at the Corn Exchange on 7 May 2016, leading the way to a series of fantastic fringe events over a two-week period. Eat Cambridge is a foodie’s dream and I tried to attend as many events as I could.
I started off by volunteering at The Main Event. Heidi put a lot of work into organising Eat Cambridge and I thought the best way I could show my support was to volunteer and help out that day. There were about 40 stallholders, all local independents, showcasing their fabulous food and drink products.
On 14 May 2016, Cambridge Eat Up! (exclamation mark intended) held its first ever Pot Luck Lunch, a fringe event for Eat Cambridge. The lovely and talented Karen Harvey had the foresight to create the Cambridge Eat Up! group on Facebook (you can read about its origins in her blog post here) and it has grown organically since then. It’s become a great virtual “meeting point” for food enthusiasts of all types (not just bloggers) to share good foodie news and plan get-togethers.
Photo by Karen Harvey
Photo by Lisa Durbin
So when Eat Cambridge organiser Heidi White thought the group would be ideal for a fringe event, Karen and I jumped at the chance to create something. In the spirit of Cambridge Eat Up!, we wanted to hold an event that reflected foodies coming together, sharing and supporting each other. The result was a Pot Luck Lunch where everyone would bring a dish and we would gather around a table in an informal setting to enjoy each other’s company and good food/drink. We planned this back in December and the next thing we knew, the application was submitted, the entry fee paid (courtesy of Paulo at P A Safety Management Limited) and my home was confirmed as the location. Everyone jumped at the chance to be included and the places filled up very quickly, as soon as the Eat Cambridge programme was released. I even increased the numbers from 15 to 20 but there was still a long waiting list. However, this indicated that the pot luck format appealed to a great number of people, so the group is discussing hosting more of them.
Hot Chip was founded by Hugh Crossley (Lord Somerleyton) and Toby Marchant. Their combined business acumen and restaurant expertise led to the creation Hot Chip, purveyors of gourmet chips matched with intriguing sauces and toppings. Some of their combinations with the humble chip taking centre stage don’t readily spring to mind, but they work!
Hot Chip had a presence in Norwich for two years and built quite a following at their shop. In order to bring their delicious chips to a greater number of customers, they decided to embrace street food and go mobile… and so the eye-catching Hot Chip Land Rover was born.
They have already started taking East Anglia and London by storm but held their official launch in Cambridgeshire on 16 October at Burwash Manor. The fabulous launch was organised by Vhari Russell and Emma Bearpark of The Food Marketing Expert.
I was delighted to be invited to Hot Chip’s launch to sample some of their original menu items. Firstly, I was impressed by the chips themselves. Hot Chip definitely have the foundation right. It’s not a matter of heaping sauces and toppings to disguise an inferior chip. In fact, the chip is the focus and the other ingredients serve to enhance the dish.
Only in its third year, this food and drink festival has already become one of Cambridge’s best foodie events.
The aim of Eat Cambridge is to showcase independents that can produce, source or make their products easily available in Cambridgeshire. It’s a great way to discover our local producers, restaurants, cafes and farms.
Strictly not-for-profit, Eat Cambridge is organised by Heidi White and Sian Townsend, with the invaluable help of their team of volunteers. Heidi and the volunteers all worked really hard to make the day run smoothly. (Sian is expecting a baby any minute now so she wasn’t able to attend). As last year, the Corn Exchange was a fabulous venue to hold all the stalls and there were lots of rooms available for the various talks and pop-ups.
Grub Club Cambridge is run by Vhari Russell (The Food Marketing Expert, providing marketing and retailing support for food and drink businesses) and Kelly Molson (Rubber Cheese, a design agency working with the food, drink and hospitality sectors). It is a networking club based in Cambridge for food and drink professionals and their aim is to put producers, retailers, buyers and businesses together in order to build relationships. And they do it at some mighty fine places. As the Producers’ Dinner was part of Eat Cambridge, it was open to anyone with an interest in good food and drink who wanted to feast on Fitzbillies’ tantalising menu.
Photo courtesy of Vhari Russell
The event was very well attended. Fitzbillies had a full house with three very long tables all occupied by fellow food and drink enthusiasts.