The Gloucester Quays Free Food Festival, back this July with a line-up including Jean-Christophe Novelli, is an ideal event for culinary fans
The most popular food festival in the South West is returning to cook up a storm in Gloucester on July 23 and 24. If you love cooking or simply watching talented TV chefs show you how it’s done, the Gloucester Quays Free Food Festival is a must- save date for your diary.
In an open-air Cookery Theater hosted on both days by chef, TV presenter and author Chris Bavin, live cookery sessions will feature a mouth-watering line-up of celebrity chefs. Saturday’s roster of talent includes MasterChef 2022 champion Eddie Scott, as well as home cook and family food writer Alex Hollywood and TV chef Joe Hurd. Sunday, meanwhile, will see Michelin-starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli take to the stage, with MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Chef Philli and Dirty Vegan star Matt Pritchard also appearing at the theater.
Over the festival weekend, food-lovers will also be able to savour over 100 stalls offering a selection of local food, quality produce and artisan crafts, as well as some of the region’s best street food. There will also be a pop-up bar serving a selection of local brews and craft beer, as well as live music as visitors soak up the atmosphere. Waterside bars and restaurants like Bill’s, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Côte Brasserie, Portivo Lounge and Coal Kitchen will additionally be serving their own freshly-cooked specialties and dishes, while inspired shoppers can take home stylish cookware and accessories at up to 70 per cent off the RRP at top-brand stores like Le Creuset, Denby and ProCook.
All of the festival’s open-air events, displays and cookery sessions are free, so there are lots of things for visitors to see, do and taste. There is no need to buy tickets for the chef sessions or Cookery Theater, though places for all events are first come, first served. They go like hot cakes, so it’s crucial to get to the festival early.
On Saturday, the festival’s street food stalls and pop-up bar will be open from 10am to 7pm. The Quays’ outlet stores will additionally be open between these times. On Sunday, stalls and outlets will be open from 10am to 5pm.
Meet the experts
Get to know some of the celebrity chefs set to appear at this year’s festival
Jean-Christophe Novelli is a multi-Michelin-starred and 5/5 AA Rosette-winning chef, author, and restaurateur. He is very approachable and often gives more than expected to please audiences and organizers alike.
Following a number of renowned restaurants in London, Cape Town and Normandy, Jean-Christophe’s passion for sharing his talent led him to open his own cookery school, The Novelli Academy, which has grown in popularity ever since. In spring 2018, he opened a brasserie restaurant, Novelli at City Quays, within the Marriott AC Hotel in Belfast, and it is going from strength to strength. He has also appeared in a number of TV programs (such as Hell’s Kitchen, This Morning and MTV Cribsand more recently was one of the fugitives on Celebrity Hunted (with millions watching him beat the Hunters and raise huge amounts for Stand Up To Cancer).
Jean-Christophe is known around the globe for his amazing cooking artistry and unique healthy cooking techniques. He’s cooked and consulted on many projects and catered for heads of state, royalty and renowned personalities, and he continues to host private and corporate dinners and run cookery classes and team-bonding events. When not busy with the above, you are likely to find him demonstrating at a food festival or similar. Whatever the occasion, time with this passionate and highly talented chef will be an informative, fun and truly memorable experience!
Chris Bavin is one of the leading faces in food and consumer television. He started his career in fresh produce by working with growers supplying wholesale markets, first with flowers and plants and later moving to fruit and veg. Chris has worked across all areas of fresh produce including founding The Naked Grocer, one of the first zero-packaging, no-plastic retail businesses, which he ran for nine years. During his time at the helm, the business was awarded the National Independent Retailer of the Year twice.
Chris first appeared on our screens in the BBC’s Eat Well for Less? in 2013 and has since gone on to present a further six series of the show. Alongside this, he has also presented Tomorrow’s Food, The Truth About Meat, Food: Truth or Scare and Shop Well for the Planet, all for BBC One. He has also appeared as a judge and the resident fruit and veg expert on the BBC’s Best Home Cook.
As well as being a regular reporter for The One ShowChris has presented several consumer and property-based formats including Wanted: A Simple Life and Escape to the Country. He has also shown us his horticultural roots by presenting two series of Britain in Bloom, and he is a regular feature on the BBC’s Chelsea Flower Show coverage. He is currently filming exciting projects for both the BBC and Channel 4.
Chris is also a published author, with two cookbooks to his name. His first, Good Food Sortedwas published in March 2019, while his second, Fakeawaywas published in January 2020. Chris has additionally become a regular face at food festivals across the country, hosting sessions as well as leading informative, fun and entertaining food demos.
Alex Hollywood is a passionate home cook and family food writer with two popular cookery books under her belt as well as a devoted following on social media. She incorporates flavors from her Scandinavian and French heritage, and her ‘waste not, want not’ attitude resonates with busy mums across the globe. Her infectious humor and relatability have been noticed by TV producers, resulting in her featuring on numerous programs including This Morning, Nadia’s Family Feasts and Ainsley’s Food We Love.
Her simple but effective recipes are always a hit on social media, so it was no surprise that in 2015, she secured her first book deal with My Busy Kitchen. She published her second book, Cooking Tonight, in 2017, continuing to inspire home cooks with fuss-free family meals that have become her trademark. During lockdown, she teamed up with Lotte Duncan from Ready Steady Cook to present their own popular weekly cookery slot on Instagram called Chop and Chat.
Alex lives in the Kent countryside where, along with cooking, recipe development and working on her third book, she is also a keen gardener. She has created an extensive kitchen garden, grows all her own produce and gives regular tips and updates to her growing Instagram followers.
As a proud Yorkshireman with Italian heritage, Joe Hurd’s interests in cooking were inspired by these influences from day one. Joe’s cooking style is unfussy, accessible and always about the flavor, and he’s passionate about sharing his knowledge of traditional Italian recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques with home cooks.
As a chef, Joe has worked alongside Jamie Oliver, Gennaro Contaldo, Francesco Mazzei and the late, great Antonio Carluccio. He’s a regular guest presenter on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchenonstage at festivals and events across the UK and has most recently opened his first Italian grocery and provisions shop, V.Botteri at Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire.
Philli Armitage-Mattin (Chef Philli) is an acclaimed chef with a passion for big flavors. As a finalist on BBC One’s MasterChef: The Professionalsshe entertained the nation with her take on playful Asian-inspired dishes.
Philli’s career started in Michelin-starred kitchens with the Gordon Ramsay Group in the UK, Tokyo and Hong Kong. She has additionally developed and launched hundreds of products for different brands, with these including Tesco and Starbucks. An MSci in Chemistry has also allowed her to design and launch macro-calculated restaurant concepts focusing on nutrition.
Philli has a passion for Asian Street food after spending a year working and researching across Asia to find unique recipes that would appeal to the Western palette. In addition, she has cooked for Alison and Dermot on This Morning.
Formerly known as the frontman of MTV’s Dirty Sanchez, Matt has left his pranking days behind for his love of vegan food, health and fitness. His first cooking series, Dirty Veganpremiered on BBC One Wales to wide acclaim, coinciding with his vegan cookbook bearing the same title.
The series featured Matt cooking a variety of exciting dishes to win over the Welsh public, from a hearty vegan paella for a women’s rugby team to tasty, energy-fueled meals for school dinners. His mission? To make Wales fitter, healthier and stronger, convincing the public that plant-based food can be a sustainable lifestyle option.
Following the Dirty Vegan brand’s success, Matt published a second cookbook, Dirty Vegan: Another Bitewith this soon followed by a second season of the Dirty Vegan TV programs. The second series encouraged the public to try Veganuary and consider a much healthier lifestyle.