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Dartmouth Food Festival, which welcomes around 20,000 visitors annually, is one of the most important dates on the Devon calendar, and is a landmark event on the culinary calendar.

What to expect at Dartmouth Food Festival 2018

One of the most important things to report about the Dartmouth Food Festival is that it’s completely free to attend, and this even applies to most of the individual talks and events.

Most of the action takes place undercover, either under marquees in Coronation Park, along the Embankment or in indoor venues, from the town’s cosy bistros to larger spaces like the Flavel Arts Centre and Dartmouth Guildhall, meaning the festival is a joy to attend, come rain or shine.

Every year the Dartmouth Food Festival includes:

  • hands-on workshops to inspire keen amateur chefs
  • demonstrations from chefs from Devon, elsewhere in the UK and overseas
  • tastings and educational sessions to help food and wine enthusiasts develop their palates.

Over 90 food and drink exhibitors have already confirmed that they’ll be attending 2018’s event, providing festival-goers with a fantastic opportunity to sample the best of the South West.

Highlights of this year’s festival

The events programme is looking jam packed and has now been published on the festival website. Boasting an exciting schedule of events including the popular pre-festival feast, cookery lessons with Manna From Devon (for both grown ups and children!) and the Salcombe Gin Festival bar, it’s set to be an epic weekend for food lovers! As always, local, regional and nationally acclaimed chefs will be holding demonstrations throughout the weekend, including those such as:

  • Mitch Tonks, celebrity chef, festival patron, and the restaurateur behind Rockfish and the Seahorse restaurant
  • Restaurateur, chef and writer/broadcaster Romy Gill MBE, who has been a Celebrity Masterchef judge and resident cook for the Guardian newspaper
  • Jane Baxter, chef and co-owner of Wild Artichoke, Devon

Dartmouth Food Festival for Children

Dartmouth - Food Festival

The festival organisers are keen to make people of all ages feel welcome throughout the event, and this year is especially child friendly. Not only are there various cookery workshops (curry, pasta / pesto and artisan bread to name a few!) throughout the weekend specifically for youngsters, but Thursday 18th October is solely child focused, with fun events like a sumptuous tea party held in the afternoon.

Catching up with the compere: A conversation with Gina Carter

Regular visitors to the Dartmouth Food Festival will all recognise Gina Carter, who acts as compere at the Chefs’ Demo Theatre in Royal Avenue Gardens, where most of the free demonstrations take place. Gina performs this role for all three days of the festival, a job she describes as “three full days of talking and trying to be witty, interspersed with the occasional glass of Prosecco!” As well as chatting with the chefs to ensure the audience gets the maximum benefit from their demonstrations, she also likes to involve the crowd directly, often eliciting questionsto ask the experts. “I feel very honoured to be on stage,” she told Coast & Country Cottages, “alongside some of the UK’s top chefs where I can see them working at such close hand.”

Gina has been involved with the festival “pretty much right from the start” in various ways, including handling the PR and running food stalls. During this time, she’s been able to sample a lot of fabulous food and wine – “all in the name of research obviously!” she added. There have been too many highlights for Gina to single out any one demonstration as her favourite, but “Mitch Tonks and Mark Hix are always very entertaining together, and Matt Tebbutt is fascinating.”

This year, Gina will be back in the Chefs’ Demo Theatre for more or less the entirety of Dartmouth Food Festival, so what is she looking forward to most of all? “I always go around all the stalls first thing on Friday as they are setting up,” she explained, “so I can grab samples or get some information on any new products. This means I’ll be able to talk about them, so finding new local products is always good. Back in the theatre it’s always good to welcome back [chef and restaurateur] Angela Hartnett MBE, who is a complete joy.”

Pop along to the Chefs’ Demo Theatre to find out more about – and more importantly sample – the best food and drink from our region.

South Devon for foodies

Before and after the festival, there are still plenty of fantastic places to eat and drink in Dartmouth and South Devon. Amongst the finest restaurants in the region are the Seahorse restaurant on the Embankment in Dartmouth, run by Mitch Tonks himself, and the Laughing Monk in nearby Strete. Excellent café options in Dartmouth itself include:

  • Saveurs for French-inspired light bites
  • The Anchorstone Café, for fresh, locally-sourced al fresco meals
  • Café Alf Resco, for hearty breakfasts and lunches.

Our locally-based team also put together this article on the top restaurants in Dartmouth. You can vote for your favourite in our one-click poll too!

South Devon is also home to a huge number of renowned food and drink brands, such as the South Devon Chilli Farm, Riverford, Tideford Organics, and Sharpham Vineyard and Cheese Dairy. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are a big part of the local food culture in South Devon, making it a great place to visit for foodies at all times of the year.

Find out more about our thriving food culture from this free download, the South Devon Cookbook, featuring original recipes from the best chefs and brands in our region.

Accommodation during the Dartmouth Food Festival

Dartmouth is a picturesque harbour town in South Devon, with a busy programme of annual events thanks to its lively local community.

Why not treat the festival as an excuse to take a well-earned break, and choose from our enviable selection of luxury holiday homes in Dartmouth managed by Coast & Country Cottages?

If you can’t make it down for this year’s Dartmouth Food Festival, there are plenty of other exciting events held annually in this picturesque harbour town, all of which feature stalls from leading local food producers, namely, the Dartmouth Regatta and Candlelit Dartmouth.

For more information about what’s going on in our county this year, see our guide to festivals in Devon.