In the seven years since the Universal Cookery & Food Festival (UCFF) was launched by a team of professional chefs, it has become one of the most renowned festivals designed exclusively for chefs. This roving festival, which this year took place at Westland Nurseries in Evesham, features a packed day of speakers, a Great Taste farmers’ market of local and national suppliers and producers, a new Distillery Stage, plus an evening social barbecue.
A highlight of the speaker programme was Gerry Ludwig, Will Matier and Tom Beeston, who discussed the soaring interest in meat-free meals and how chefs can make plant-based food suitable for fine dining. The panel created great discussion about using meat alternatives and gave an insight into the plant-based dishes they are creating in their restaurants. Gerry also provided an insight into food trends and menu solutions in the US and what trends could make their way over here in the UK.
Chefs were also given a tour of Westlands itself, a pioneer in speciality leaf and growing techniques using cutting edge technology and hydroponics. For example, the nursery will grow a single red stem lettuce to brighten up the bags of salad leaves for Christmas.
For Clive Singleton, general commercial manager at the University of Warwick, the exhibition allowed him to source some interesting products and solutions for his institution, from making your own fresh chocolate, tasting some delicious relishes from the Lake District, to finding a supplier for kombucha that offers ambient products.
“UCFF is a small event in its physical size, however it’s what you get out of these things that is important, I had been to UCFF before through recommendation and I would certainly recommend it anyone who has an interest in food to make their way to the event next year, especially using TUCO’s subsidised rate.”
– Delegate from Warwick University
“The most enjoyable part was that we could interact with all the chefs so that we could speak and talk to them in a relaxed atmosphere. [I] Found the whole day fantastic and [I] was able to get something from all parts. The only problem was deciding which demo to watch.”
– Delegate from Winchester University