Full stomachs and happy faces - food fortnight is a big success

A special Community Harvest Festival Service with Emsworth Churches and Schools helped bring Food Fortnight to an end - pictured are Alistair Gibson, from the group of organisers, with Ruby Luxon (5), and Chloe Traill (5) from Emsworth / Picture by Malcolm Wells (161002-9102)
A special Community Harvest Festival Service with Emsworth Churches and Schools helped bring Food Fortnight to an end - pictured are Alistair Gibson, from the group of organisers, with Ruby Luxon (5), and Chloe Traill (5) from Emsworth / Picture by Malcolm Wells (161002-9102)

Emsworth’s participation in this year’s British Food Fortnight proved once aga inthe town is a wonderful ‘foodie’ destination and has an amazing community spirit.

Three words sum up what this fortnight was all about: Community, Education, Celebration.

There was a truly varied programme of events and activities over the fortnight from local producer markets to Apple Pressing Day, from a Community Seafood Lunch on the Quay to a Traditional Pie Masterclass and so much more in between. The many highlights included -

Emsworth Apple Pressing Day

A real community event. Local apples grown by residents were bought to the apple press in the Square to produce ‘Emsworth Apple Presse 2016’. The label for this year was unveiled on the day, designed by a pupil from St.James Primary School. This event also raised £250 for Stonepillow in donations.

Emsworth Community Seafood Lunch

It was pinch-me special. One of those rare occasions when everything is perfect. Fine weather, wonderful chefs from the town’s top restaurants, working with the freshest local fish.

Emsworth can trace much of its heritage back to its maritime history and although in the main the fishing boats and its once famous oyster industry may have gone, Emsworth, unlike so many similar communities, has still managed to maintain its sense of place.

This was celebrated last December with the Lobster Pot Christmas tree, which was a source of great pride and enjoyment for the whole community. The Emsworth Community Seafood lunch sort again celebrate this heritage and to make it available to everyone in the community; the lunch was served on the Quay, on long communal tables and was prepared by four of the areas leading chefs:

Lawrence Murphy – Fat Olives Restaurant, Giles Babb – Blue Bell Inn, Gary Pearce – Restaurant 36 on the Quay, Jon Scourfield – Brookfield Hotel.

In many ways this was the very essence of this years Emsworth British Food Fortnight - local chefs, using local ingredients from local producers, creating local dishes for local people and served on Emsworth’s historic fishing Quay which is a ‘touch stone’ to the community’s food past.

The event sold out within two hours of tickets being made available. All profits from the lunch were donated to Stonepillow raising almost £1000.

‘A Boost of Kindness’ - A Special Community Harvest Festival Service in St. Peter’s Square

Over the fortnight Food Bank Collection points were established in various points and at this final event, before the open-air service, a food mountain was built and then donated to the Beacon Food Bank. Once again the amount donated was staggering and needed five estate cars to transport it back to the Beacon Food Bank.

The ‘Great British Menu’ College Lunches - three local colleges – Fareham, Higbury and South Downs - had their catering students take over the Brookfield Hotel and design, prepare and serve a ‘Great British Menu’. All three lunches were fully sold out with over 250 guests enjoying seeing young people in a professional restaurant environment who will be the food industries future. In all more than 60 catering students were involved.

Taking the Harvest to Primary Schools

As well as students, one of the aims of the fortnight was to involve as many younger children as possible in food education and through a variety initiatives six local primary schools as well as one local school which provides 11-16 year olds with special education needs.

In conjunction with Hampshire Farmers’ Market Food Education workshops in three local primary schools. 64 pupils took part.

Six schools built ‘Harvest’ Scarecrows – many of them themed – which became a center piece of the fortnight and remained in Emsworth Square as a backdrop to many events

The Schools were invited to submit entries for this year’s Emsworth Apple Presse.

The Emsworth British Food Fortnight also hosted a wide range of cookery demonstrations, workshops and tastings., aimed at both being fun and also informative.

Emsworth Cookery School had a series of classes including a Bread Masterclass and a Knife Skills workshop and Jake’s Artisan Food held a Traditional Pork Pie Masterclass – all of these sold out.

There were also cookery demonstrations in Emsworth Home Hardware as well as cookery demonstration given by local restaurant Fat Olives at Tuppeny Barn entitled ‘Local, Seasonal & Sensational’.

One of the quirkier events was The Hungry Writer where participants could explore the pleasures of taste through this creative writing workshop led by local author Lizzie Chittleboro. It took place at the inspirational organic small holding Tuppenny Barn.

Other highlights:

Emsworth Market Day with Hampshire Farmers’ Market

Hampshire Farmers’ Market Award’s Dinner –Brookfield Hotel - A celebration of everything that is fabulous about Hampshire’s Food and Drink industry, think the BAFTA’s for local food producers! The awards went to - Best Food Product:  Ambrose Sausages; Best Drinks Producer:  MASH Brewery; Best Hot Food to Take Away:  Broughton Water Buffalo; Best Personality:  Phil & Sue Ambrose (Ambrose Sausages).

The Emsworth Wine Fair

Organised by the areas 4 local independent wine merchants, this is a wonderful opportunity to taste over 40 wines and spirits, together with some local cheeses and artisan foods. Focusing on award winning English wines, which will included amongst others Hambledon Vineyard, Chapel Down, Albourne Estate and Wickham Wines as well as the new wave in artisan Gins and other British spirits. All proceeds from the ticket sales went to Stonepillow - £250

Emsworth’s First British Beer and Cider Festival

Featuring some 30 great British beers and cider, both local and from further afield, as well as live entertainment and local food producers. This event completely sold out.

A ‘Thought for Food’ Local Showcase Market

Created to enable local food & drink producers from West Sussex and Hampshire to come together and showcase their products here in Emsworth. There was a series of live music, poetry and creative writing readings, The Portsmouth Shanty Men, food safaris and food demonstrations throughout the day.

Emsworth Beef, Oyster & Ale Pie

Many of the pubs, restaurants and Cafes put on special menus or dishes to celebrate British Food Fortnight and in many cases also featured some of Hampshire’s leading sparking wine producers as well as local gins and beers. The Bluebell Inn featured Emsworth Beef, Oyster and Ale Pie celebrating Emsworth’s links between the land and the sea – it sold out on a daily basis.

Here’s what they are saying about Emsworth’s part in Food Fortnight...

“Once again Emsworth has shown it self to be a real foodie destination but more than that it has shown it truly embraces its community. This year perhaps for the first time Emsworth British Food Fortnight has achieved a reputation that attracts people from further afield than the local area, establishing itself as an event on the calendar. Thank you to all our spnsors who really embraced the whole fortnight. We laid the dinner table and it appears as if people have pulled up a chair and sat down to eat!” - Alistair Gibson, Emsworth Business Association.

“We arranged four night break at The Brookfield Hotel to visit attractions in the local area. We needed to look no further than Emsworth. Emsworth was celebrating British Food Fortnight. We had so many different events to attend. Hats off to the organisers, we had a fantastic time, only disappointment was missing out on the seafood lunch on the quay. We will be taking

a part of Emsworth back to Dartford and extolling the virtues of such a vibrant community.” - Mr and Mrs Verry, Dartford, Kent

“It was pinch-me special. One of those rare occasions when everything is perfect. Fine weather, wonderful chefs from the town’s top restaurants, working with the freshest local fish. Beautifully cooked and presented in such a perfect setting. It was truly memorable. Thank you all.” - Lesley DiFonzo, local resident who attend the Community Seafood Lunch.

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