Willows

How coronavirus is bringing food innovation to Norfolk's communities

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The drive-through street food festival at The Silver Fox in Taverham. The team from the Willows Cafe Bistro in Drayton. Photo: Adam Coulton

The drive-through street food festival at The Silver Fox in Taverham. The team from the Willows Cafe Bistro in Drayton. Photo: Adam Coulton

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Our corner of the world is peppered with stand-out local produce and celebrated places to grab a bite to eat.

Nick Brewer, owner of Churros and Chorizo Spanish Street Food. Photo: Nick BrewerNick Brewer, owner of Churros and Chorizo Spanish Street Food. Photo: Nick Brewer

But with delivery options often limited and the promise of a chippy down the road not always guaranteed, food lovers in its more rural areas may have become used to hopping in the car for a meal made outside their home.

Coronavirus has hit the hospitality industry hard, with restaurants and pubs forced to close their doors, but it has brought with it a wave of innovation.

New businesses have been launched, delivery schemes started, restaurateurs forced to adapt and street vendors, with event-packed summers cancelled, now touring our villages and towns.

And it’s been met with a warm welcome – socially distanced queues now snake from food trucks on Friday nights and village centres are abuzz as households escape lockdown to enjoy the variety.

In Taverham, a drive-through street food festival proved such a hit in May it will now be held in other locations, and some of the county’s most prestigious restaurants, including Socius in Burnham Market, are now offering deliveries.

Ella Tarrant, from Hethersett, has been able to start her own cake delivery business during lockdown, Bakes by Ella.

ClearCompany CIC volunteer directors, from left, Ana Almeida, Steve Wiseman and Julie Briggs. Picture: ClearCompany CICClearCompany CIC volunteer directors, from left, Ana Almeida, Steve Wiseman and Julie Briggs. Picture: ClearCompany CIC

And the 26-year-old, mother to two-year-old daughter Lilah Walker, will this weekend sell her cakes at her first street food gathering in the village.

MORE: Luxury picnic delivery business to launch across Norfolk

“I was always baking,” she said, “and over Easter I did some treat boxes and sent them to my family. They said I should sell them so I started to, and sold six boxes in Hethersett to begin with.

“More and more people were asking though and the next thing I had 42 deliveries in one week and it just took off.”

The team at Frier Tucks fish and chip van. Credit: Supplied by Outside LiveThe team at Frier Tucks fish and chip van. Credit: Supplied by Outside Live

Since then, she has started creating custom orders, including birthday and baby gender reveal cakes.

With a background in both social media and the restaurant industry, she has been able to combine her skills to see the business flourish.

“There have been times where I have been covered in flour, my two-year-old is screaming and my dog is in the other room and I have wondered ‘am I doing the right thing’, but to see people happy when they receive their boxes is lovely,” she said.

Many of her customers, who live largely in the areas surrounding Hethersett, are older, she said, and not going out as much.

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She said she hoped the popularity of delivery and street food businesses continued after lockdown ended.

“People see it as a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening,” she said, “and it’s a surprise no-one thought of doing it before.”

The street food fair in Hethersett in which she will take part is one of several now being organised by community interest company ClearCompany.

Its founder and director Julie Briggs has spent the last two years looking for a site at which to base a new street food park, and hopes to make use of the former OPEN Youth Trust site on Bank Plain in Norwich city centre.

For now, she has launched street food fairs with a network of vendors, which began at Attleborough’s Connaught Hall last month and will soon start in other areas including Hethersett, Diss, Norwich and Wymondham.

MORE: You can now have a chocolate shop’s ‘lockdown boxes’ delivered straight to your door

“Outdoor dining and outdoor events will be really popular going forward,” she said. “It’s much easier to conform to the safety guidelines and people can have more confidence they are safe.

“Once we have got the social distancing rules established at each venue we can add more pitches.”

She their first event in Attleborough had been a sell-out, with a second equally as busy despite heavy rain.

“We sold out on the first week really quickly,” she said. “We had taken pre-orders but we could have done the same again and more.”

Despite the weather, people arrived en masse, and her team delivered to their cars, running back and forth in the downpour.

For businesses which rely on events throughout the summer, the banning of large gatherings was daunting. Several, including Spanish food business Churros and Chorizo, have taken to offering deliveries instead.

The team at Taverham-based fish and chip van Frier Tucks was faced with a string of cancellations, including Cromer Carnival and the Fakenham races.

They decided to try out home delivery in their local area, initially Thorpe Marriott, Drayton, Horsford and Felthorpe.

But Cheryl Pennell, who runs the business with son Troy Pennell, said demand had seen them requested further afield.

They now visit The Fox at Lyng pub, as well as the Queen’s Hill community in Costessey.

On Tuesday afternoon, she said they had roughly 30 orders in for Friday night.


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What festivals are happening in Suffolk this year and when are they on?

Lowestoft's First Light Festival will be the perfect event to allow families to let their hair down together. Photo: First Light

Lowestoft’s First Light Festival will be the perfect event to allow families to let their hair down together. Photo: First Light

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Suffolk has rich culture and heritage which is celebrated through a series of popular family friendly eventrs throughout the year. Here’s our guide to the diverse array of attractionswhich should keep everyone entertained over the next 10 months

Crowds at the East Anglian Game Fair at Euston Hall.Crowds at the East Anglian Game Fair at Euston Hall.

The East Anglian Game & Country Fair

Where: Euston Estate, Euston Hall, Thetford

When: April 25-26

The East Anglian Game & Country Fair is an annual two day, family event which celebrates the heritage and traditions of rural life. Headlining the main arena this year are The Bolddog Lings Freestyle Team who will amaze the crowds with their gravity defiant Freestyle Motocross Show.

Crowds enjoying the music at LeeStock as the sun sets Picture ANDREW DEERECrowds enjoying the music at LeeStock as the sun sets Picture ANDREW DEERE

There will also be an opportunity to see the exciting, fast and skilful British Scurry & Trials Driving in the main arena. Falconry is always a popular attraction at country fairs and Ray & Wendy Aliker’s Ye Olde Redtail Birds will be performing a very special tribute display to the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.

The East Anglian Game & Country Fair will also be hosting the Horseboarding UK Championships. It has been described as being “Somewhere between scurry racing and wake boarding.”

Bury St Edmunds Festival

The Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Where: The Apex, the Cathedral and various venues across Bury St Edmunds

When: May 14-24

Tony Christie, Dead Bones, Deadringers Live and Jenni Murray will appear at the 35th Bury St Edmunds Festival. Spread over 11 days, in 12 different venues and with 50 different events across the West Suffolk town, the locations for the scheduled activities range from the very modern and flexible Apex to the 800-year-old Guild Hall, the Theatre Royal – the last working Regency Playhouse in Britain – and The Abbey Gardens, an English Heritage site with monastic ruins.

This year also marks the 1000th anniversary of the Abbey of St Edmund. The Festival will perform a series of concerts at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, including by The Sixteen on May 18. On May 14 the Aurora Orchestra will play Beethoven’s Eroica. Over the following days there will be a Words Weekend from (May 15-17) with writers and actors including Jenni Murray, Robert Webb, Katie Piper and Alastair Campbell discussing topics, such as mental health and gender roles.

Partying on the beach as the sun comes up. First Light Festival in Lowestoft celebrates the arrival of summer with a 24 hour arts extravaganza Photo: First LightPartying on the beach as the sun comes up. First Light Festival in Lowestoft celebrates the arrival of summer with a 24 hour arts extravaganza Photo: First Light

May 19 will see jazz singer Stacey Kent perform.

Beccles Food and Drink Festival

Where: Beccles Town Centre

Welcome to the Maverick Festival at Easton Farm Park Photo: MaverickWelcome to the Maverick Festival at Easton Farm Park Photo: Maverick

When: Saturday May 23

After a record breaking last year, Beccles Food and Drink Festival is back in 2020 with a feast of culinary delights. The free Festival features over 80 food and drink stalls, many of them local artisan producers, as well as those from further afield in East Anglia. Based in the centre of the vibrant market town, the Festival will include cookery demonstrations and talks, world street food, musicians and children’s entertainment.

Hungate Church will be the new home of the Cookery Theatre offering people the opportunity to visit and taste some great local produce.

A free park and ride shuttle service will run throughout the day from Beccles Quay, where additional parking will be available. Building on the successful formula of previous years, the Festival is set to repeat Fringe events in the local area a week either side of the main Festival day.

Audiences enjoying the experience of Latitude at Henham Park. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodAudiences enjoying the experience of Latitude at Henham Park. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

LeeStock Music Festival 2020

Where: Melford Hall, (National Trust) Long Melford, Sudbury

When: May 23-24

Thousands of people will flock to Helmingham Hall for Suffolk Dog Day. Photo: Sarah Lucy BrownThousands of people will flock to Helmingham Hall for Suffolk Dog Day. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

LeeStock returns to celebrate its 13th anniversary with another top line up. This year’s headline acts include: Ash, Scouting For Girls, Toploader, Lucy Spraggan, Space, Electric Six and Stereo Mc’s. It’s a family event so there will be plenty for youngsters to do in the The Drage & Tozer Family Area including: Story time and music time, face painting, glitter tattoos, books to read, chalk table, colouring in as well as sand and water play.

Suffolk Show

Where: Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich

Festival of Wheels at Trinity Park in Ipswich. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGEFestival of Wheels at Trinity Park in Ipswich. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

When: May 27-28

The Suffolk Show is an event that celebrates both modern life and the county’s rich heritage. Traditional livestock share space in the show ring with various attractions like showjumping, motorcycle displays, parachute jumps, best in show parades even on one occasion dancing diggers.

Local craftsmen can also display their wares at the show. It is a unique celebration of everything that makes the county great and showcases the best of Suffolk’s food, farming and agricultural heritage. The aim is to promote food, farming and the countryside and its importance to Suffolk.

FolkEast music and art festival showcasing the best of Suffolk at Glemham Hall. FolkEast music and art festival showcasing the best of Suffolk at Glemham Hall.

First Light Festival

Where: Lowestoft South Beach

When: Saturday June 20

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, First Light Festival will return on the 2020 summer solstice weekend.

Join in the fun and frolics on the beach for 24 hours of non-stop multi-arts programming on Lowestoft’s South Beach. This is a free festival for thinkers, for dreamers and for fun-seekers. Pick the brains of some of the world’s top scientists, authors and broadcasters; dance on the sand to live music and DJs; watch films at the outdoor cinema; take a moment for yourself in the well-being tipis and see site-specific installations, art and sculpture as you discover 24 hours of imaginative programming.

Maverick Festival

Where: Easton Farm Park, Easton, Woodbridge

When: July 3-5

Maverick is the UK’s first and finest Americana music festival and an event that continues to build on its reputation for securing the best and brightest in American roots music from both sides of the Atlantic.

The Maverick Festival is set amongst the restored Victorian barns and out-buildings of Easton Farm Park, nestled deep in the Suffolk countryside, with films, workshops and performances from more than 50 different artists across six stages, indoors and out.

The music begins on Friday at 5pm and runs until around 11.30pm. Saturday’s programme starts at 11am and finishes around 11.30pm. Sunday is altogether more relaxed beginning around 10.30am and running until approximately 2.30pm.

This year’s line-up includes: Steve Forbert, California Feetwarmers, Legendary Shack Shakers, Terra Lightfoot, Henhouse Prowlers, Weeping Willows and Hank Wangford.

Latitude

Where: Henham Park, near Blythburgh, NR34 8AQ

When: July 16-19

Latitude is a major part of the UK’s festival season and an important corner-piece of Suffolk’s cultural jigsaw. What makes Latitude special is, in addition to the eclectic selection headline music acts, the festival held at Henham Park, just outside Southwold, is also home to a fascinating lineup of theatre, cabaret and comedy, while an inspiring variety of spoken word, poetry and film features regularly throughout the weekend. You’ll experience everything from the spectacular to the surreal at Latitude’s diverse array of stages, with the main stage (Obelisk Arena) sitting at the top of the hill overlooking the festival.

Among the headliners at this year’s festival are: Liam Gallagher, The Chemical Brothers, HAIM plus Bill Bailey and Simon Amstell.

Suffolk Dog Day 2020

Where: Helmingham Hall, Stowmarket

When: July 26

This is no ordinary day in the doggy diary, but a day to celebrate our furry friends in all their guises. Enjoy a great day out with your dogs, family and friends.

There are fun dog classes with great prizes, agility, dog scurry and lots of attractions and trade stands to keep everyone entertained. There are children’s activities as well as more than 50 stalls selling everything from dog accessories to cheese. There will also be a catering village as well as entertainments and demonstrations.

Festival of Wheels

Where: Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich

When: July 31 – August 2

An intoxicating mix of cars, bikes, trucks and all things motoring come together over two superb days for the Festival of Wheels.

The largest event of its kind in the South-East, the festival gathers together the east coast’s rarest and most glamorous cars, bikes and trucks. The Festival of Wheels is a unique event created for those with a passion for motoring in general. The festival format enables visitors to enjoy a full day or weekend of motoring entertainment.

Attractions include: Monster Truck Rides, Honda’s Official And The UK’s Number 1 Freestyle Motocross Display Team, 2 Bros Stunt Team, Extreme Bike Battle, Wall of Death and Happy’s Circus.

FolkEast

Where: Glemham Hall, Little Glemham, Woodbridge

When: Aug 21-23

FolkEast is a festival where a group of like minded people from across the generations, who gather together for a three day annual festival of music, arts, crafts, legends, traditions and frivolities on the Glemham Hall estate in Suffolk.

The line-up is hand-picked from first class national, international and local folk artists, the food and ale all locally sourced and fairly priced. With the feel of a large village fete and set amidst a Constable-esque landscape, there is plenty to sing and dance about.

This year’s line-up includes: Afro Celt Sound System, Drever McCusker & Woomble, Elephant Sessions, Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, The Shee, The Trials of Cato, Gigspanner Big Band, The Moulettes and festival patrons The Young’Uns.

Retro Dub Suffolk VW Festival

Where: Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich

When: Fri Sept 25 – Sun Sept 27

Retro Dub Suffolk VW Festival is an old school camping and live music weekend for all ages. Now in its sixth year, the event proves to be a chilled-out show, offering a genuine VW camping festival experience – like it used to be back in the day.

The show is hosted at Trinity Park, Ipswich, situated within a beautiful 300 acre secure complex, has rural landscapes, and even has 4G for most networks. On the Saturday, Norfolk and Suffolk Retro Riderz are hosting a bike show and shine with various trophies up for grabs. All old-school rides are welcome, be it chopper, cruiser, BMX or trike.

Sunday is the VW show and shine, where if you enter with a cool vdub, you could be in with a chance of winning a unique trophy. No pre-registration is required to enter and is just £1 to participate, with all the money raised being donated to charity.

We have a variety of traders and catering options, as well as a full programme of live music and children’s entertainment. The sponsors area will be full of invited guests from Europe along with top show cars, drag cars and some specialist traders.

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

Where: Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape

When: September 26-27

This event showcases products like raw milk, organic vegetables, sourdough bread, beer and spirits and much more. This year, the Festival promises to deliver a jam-packed weekend of fabulous food adventures, from tastings and demonstrations to ‘roll up your sleeves and get stuck in’ masterclasses.

Among the visiting chefs are Chetna Makan, Indian food writer and Great British Bake Off contestant, Jo Pratt, a TV cook, food stylist and author of seven books including The Flexible Vegetarian. She’s former food editor for both Elle and Glamour magazines, Galton Blackiston, chef owner of Morston Hall Hotel in North Norfolk where his restaurant has held a Michelin star for the past 16 years, Jack Adair Bevan, an award-winning drinks and cocktail creator, Thomasina Miers OBE, winner of BBC MasterChef in 2005 and James Morton, doctor, Scottish baker, brewer and runner-up of the third Great British Bake Off series in 2012.

Schoolchildren from Bury St Edmunds enjoy a visit to the RS Components Titan II truck at West Suffolk College

Children from St Benedicts got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Children from St Benedicts got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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West Suffolk College hosted a titan-sized visitor that opened up the word of science and technology to visiting youngsters.

Children from St Benedicts got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren from St Benedicts got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The college, in Bury St Edmunds, was the setting for a visit by RS Components Titan II.

This is a 35 tonne interactive truck and mobile innovation centre which provides interactive experiences allowing students to get ‘hands on’ with the latest technology.

Parked up at the college’s new Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Innovation Campus in Western Way, Titan II gave students the opportunity to get involved with some of the latest innovation.

This included 3D printing, robotics, Raspberry Pi mini-computers, thermal imaging and augmented reality.

Children from St Benedicts got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren from St Benedicts got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

As well as providing an opportunity for the college students and staff, three primary and secondary schools from Bury – St Benedict’s Catholic School, Walsham Le Willows Primary and St Edmundsbury Primary – also attended, with pupils fully immersing themselves into the interactive world before them.

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Nadine Payne, director of STEM Partnerships at the college said: “It was fantastic to have Titan II in with us for the day.

“This, for us, is about raising aspirations of young people and students across the county so they really can believe they could be scientists or engineers one day.

Analis McKee and Hannah Bradbury try out the thermal imaging Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAnalis McKee and Hannah Bradbury try out the thermal imaging Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We are also trying to make students aware of the different career pathways available to them in STEM and to work with different businesses across the region to help bridge the gap between industry and education and to address the skills shortage in STEM areas.”

As well as the Titan II activities, the schools were also invited into the STEM Campus where they enjoyed a session on what an engineer is and the type of jobs they do.

RS Components is the world’s largest distributor of electronics and maintenance products.

Ms Payne said the college plans to work with RS Components again, booking Titan II for different college events and giving local schools and businesses the opportunity to attend.

Children from Walsham Le Willows Primary School got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren from Walsham Le Willows Primary School got to try out the latest in technology on the Titan II innovation truck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

West Suffolk College is home to 14,000 students and 1,500 apprentices studying at the new STEM centre, its main site in Out Risbygate, and the Milburn Campus in Anglian Lane.

Nominees for 2019 UK Theatre Awards

Get ready for the 2019 UK Theatre Awards for regional and national theatre which are being announced on Sunday 27 October 2019.

The countdown has begun for this year’s UK Theatre Awards, recognising achievement in regional and national theatre. The wi…