Held at Chester Racecourse from Saturday 7th until Monday 9th April, the Chester Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival saw over 9,800 visitors through its doors on the first day alone, a new record.

Officially opened by the Lord Lady Mayoress of Chester, Eleanor Johnson, said: “I am delighted to be here today at this year’s Food and Drink Festival; the sixth on the Racecourse and eleventh in Chester.”

In its eleventh year, over 120 exhibitors, including international producers, displayed their products for the visitors to taste and buy.

With demonstrations from TV chef Simon Rimmer and ex-Coronation Street star, Sean Wilson, crowds flooded in to watch their favourite chefs cook in front of their eyes.

Chairperson of the festival, Jane Mooney, said: “It’s been eleven years since we’ve being doing this and it gets bigger and better every year.”

The main aim of the festival is to show local producers stock and encourage visitors to engage more in local products rather than foods from the local supermarket.  A range of products were on display at the event; from selected oils, cheeses, relishes and all kinds of meat, from traditional to exotic game.

Stephen Wundke, one of the main organisers of the event, said: “We’ve got more exhibitors and more people camping than last year, we’ve taken up even more space and that’s what we wanted.”

The busiest stall at the festival was that of Cheshire Cheese Company, winners of the Chester Cheese Rolling Competition 2012. The company was so popular they had to have two stalls. It was clear that the title had boosted their awareness by miles.

With some producers making their debut; one oil company from Wales, Flower of Gold, launched their “Cheshire rapeseed oil” at the Festival and with popular reception from the crowd. Many of the chefs who demonstrated at the Festival recommended using rapeseed oil to fry instead of olive oil as it contains unsaturated fats and creates a better general fry.

This year the festival aided the charity The Academy of Culinary Arts. This charity aims to aid children in exploring the world of food by experiencing through the senses what different foods are like.

James Holden, a main chef at The Academy, ran a number of child cooking sessions at the festival. He said: “The earlier they learn about food the better. We have a generation gap, I think, where some of the parents who have young children now didn’t learn about new foods and can’t pass it on.”

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