CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Tetbury Food and Drink Festival

PUBLISHED: 08:45 08 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:11 20 February 2013

Hortensia Chocolate Shop

Hortensia Chocolate Shop

Tetbury Food and Drink Festival only began two years ago, but local foodies have developed a real appetite for all it has to offer.

Tetbury Mayor Stephen Hirst is professing disappointment. "I only got two 'seconds' in Cherington Show yesterday, which wasn't particularly good."

He's more used to his outstanding cakes - particularly his signature sticky ginger, using real stem ginger - sweeping the board. His secret? "Patience," he says. "I rarely use a mixer. My uncle was a baker and confectioner in Yorkshire and, when I was young, I used to go and work with him in the holidays.

"Do I get ribbed about my cake-making?" he grins. "Yes, it's terrible. But I have the last laugh when I get my certificates."

Sitting beside him, having a coffee in The Close Hotel, is Kathryn Limoi, chair of the town's chamber of commerce. She's a bit of a foodie, too. "I like experimenting with recipes," she says. "We have a regular delivery from the Veg Shed [the Duchy Home Farm organic vegetable box], so you never quite know what you're getting."

They're meeting up to put the finishing touches to Tetbury's third festival of food and drink. The festival's popularity - in spite of having been launched a mere two years ago - is rising faster than a loaf of Duchy Organic bread. This year it was meant to run from Wednesday, September 23 until the Sunday. By popular demand, it's now going to fill the whole week.

"Hotels are looking at doing all sorts of special menus and events," Kathryn says, "and if we only stuck to those few days, we'd end up with everybody competing against each other."

Stalls for the popular Sunday Farmers' Market are also selling like... well, like Mr Hirst's hot cakes. Last year, several thousand people passed through the Market Place, buying the produce, enjoying the entertainment. This year promises to be just as good: already on board are stallholders offering everything from a Cotswold Country liqueur, to cheese, honey, game and crepes. Daily Telegraph columnist Xanthe Clay will be there, doing a cookery demonstration. "The Sunday market was my favourite event last year. There was a real buzz to it: a feel-good day," Kathryn says.

Another big hit was the cookout at The Chef's Table in Long Street when half a dozen local chefs went head-to-head, cooking their own recipes. "There was such a good competitive spirit," Stephen Hirst says. "They were obviously prima donnas in their own right, and there was a real spark between them." It's an event that will run again this time.

In fact, this year, more people than ever will be involved. The Priory Inn is running a competition in which children have to devise a healthy lunch menu, using as many local ingredients as they can. Their prize is a family meal for four. Highgrove, courtesy of that great local food supporter the Prince of Wales, will host events that are open to the public, including a banquet in the Orchard Room in the grounds. Cotswold Chef Rob Rees is doing a cookery demonstration at The Close, with Bona Wines providing suitable liquid accompaniment.

In 2008, the Gloucester Old Spot Sausage Appreciation Society was launched at the festival, and the theme continues. The Snooty Fox has had an overwhelming response already to its 'design a sausage' competition.

"I'm also a member of the Pork Pie Society, which is based in Yorkshire," Stephen says. "My ideal 'last meal' would be a Gloucester Old Spot pork pie with mushy peas!"

The festival was born from a town 'health check' Tetbury conducted a couple of years ago. The main focus was on developing the economy and the tourism trade, which provides around three quarters of local jobs. Food-wise, Tetbury may not have any raw materials indelibly associated with its name; but when someone suggested a food and drink festival, the idea was taken up with gusto. For the town has a wealthy, discerning clientele (and plenty of visitors, thanks to the country's only high-street Highgrove shop), and some top food outlets.

Relatively recent arrivals on the scene include Quayles, an outstanding delicatessen; and Hortensia, with its stunning chocolates. Michael Bedford and his wife, Sarah, who opened The Chef's Table two years ago, epitomize the sort of passion Tetbury exudes. Of course, their deli, bistro and cookery school is a business that, like any other, has to make money. But this Michelin-starred chef is not going to fill the menu with popular food for the sake of it. "It's not just a case of getting people to spend," Michael says. "The menu is designed around what makes me happy, too. It's got to be a balance."

Other outlets have been valued in the town for years. Jesse Smith, the Tetbury butcher doesn't just win prizes because of the fantastic quality of its meat. Its staff are also a cut above the norm. John Newman is the shop's manager - and what he doesn't know about meat simply isn't worth knowing. The perfect master butcher, John has taken the 21st century and pared off all the indigestible bits: as a result, Jesse Smith's today has the same core values it began with in 1808, garnished with the best contemporary standards. Put another way, the cabinets are state-of-the art, but the bacon-slicer is vintage 1960s.

In short, whether you've a few pounds or a fortune; a love for steak or sausage, Tetbury will satisfy your appetite and quench your thirst.

"If you want a pizza, you can go and get a very good one at the Priory; then the Snooty do their 9.95 deals; or there are places such as Whatley Manor and Calcot just outside," Kathryn says.

"The beauty of Tetbury is that you can go to almost any level you want. We've fantastic hotels and restaurants - and the fish and chips are good as well!"

Tetbury Food and Drink Festival runs from Monday, September 21-Sunday, September 27; for more information and a programme of events, visit Look out, too, for special menus in hotels, restaurants and tea shops in and around the town throughout the week.


More from Food & Drink

Yesterday, 11:43

Wine Wednesday’s with Vintopia of Tetbury.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:37

Festive a la carte menu launches in Grey’s Brasserie from 26th November.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:31

Cotswold Life readers enjoy a complimentary glass of wine with our compliments when joining us for our Autumn Feast Lunch Offer.

Read more
Tue, 12:00

Whether you’re after something for an adults’ stocking filler, a little something while you slave over the turkey dinner or a tipple to enjoy with your festive party guests, we pick 9 drinks from the Cotswolds you need to try this Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

If we can continue to show our support for talented and industrious jam-makers like these, we might just pull our favourite preserve out of the sticky situation it’s supposed to be in!

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

‘If its autumn in Gloucestershire, then it must be time for Apple Day when we celebrate cider’

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Here’s our pick of some of the very best chefs from our local pubs, restaurants and hotels in and around the Cotswolds and sharing their advice and tips on how they made themselves and their businesses successful

Read more
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Can you keep a secret? This offer is just for you!

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

Ciderologist Gabe Cook is on a one-man mission to promote the many benefits of drinking REAL cider

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Fresh, locally grown plums are the unsung heroes of the fruit world so seek out local varieties and rediscover the joy of your childhood fruit

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We’re fortunate to have fantastic pubs and restaurants on our doorstep in the Cotswolds, with many serving delicious dishes as well a great round of drinks. Here are six which champion local produce, and seasonal ingredients, to create mouthwatering menus

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Niall Keating of The Dining Room at Whatley Manor enjoys showcasing the best of the world’s cuisines to his diners

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Awe-inspiring views, picture-perfect scenery and iconic landmarks, the Cotswolds is the perfect place to enjoy a countryside ramble. We pick 7 walks for you to try with nearby cafes to rest your weary feet and indulge in a cream tea

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Discover the local pioneers who are creating delicious destinations for food-lovers

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search