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Slow Food East Suffolk food group launches

PUBLISHED: 14:41 09 August 2014

Slow Food East Suffolk launch at The Anchor in Wlabserswick, July 2014

Slow Food East Suffolk launch at The Anchor in Wlabserswick, July 2014

Archant

A new group has been launched in Suffolk which aims to promote seasonal, fresh and artisan foods made in the east of the county. Ahead of the group’s public unveiling at The Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival in September, we caught up with Julie West, the chair of the new group to find out more.

Suffolk is a haven for interesting food producers and eateries, being home to a number of passionate foodies who are driven by the desire to create new and exciting products and deliver the very best in taste and flavour.

And now, a new group in the county is hoping to draw even more attention to this with their aims of promoting local, seasonal food that is good, clean and fair.

Slow Food East Suffolk was formally launched to media representatives and local dignitaries at The Anchor at Walbserswick at the end of last month.

It is part of the international Slow Food movement which was founded in Italy in 1989 to promote good, clean, fair food for all and now has more than 100,000 supporters worldwide and more than 4,000 in the UK.

The new group has been set up to further Slow Food’s ambitions in east Suffolk and aims to showcase seasonal, fresh and artisan foods and drinks produced locally.

It was founded by Mark Dorber, owner of The Anchor in Walberswick and The Swan at Stratford St Mary, and Glynn Williams, food editor and restaurant consultant.

They are joined by PR and food media expert Colin Maunder, Jeremy Thickitt of Clarke’s of Bramfield butchers and Emmerdale Farm Shop and Julie West, who currently works for the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, specialising in food and farming.

Together they form the group’s launch committee.

Julie, a former CEO of the regional food and drink body Tastes of Anglia, is the chair of the group.

She said: “Slow Food East Suffolk was launched by a group of local foodies, all with a personal passion for delicious local produce and quality ingredients, as well as a professional experience in different fields within local food and drink.

“As unpaid volunteers, we have formed this group for the benefit of new and old Slow Food members across east Suffolk. Our epicurean enthusiasm runs deep and the ethical aims of the Slow Food movement to promote eco-friendly, affordable, nutritious, heritage, low-key food and drink production are close to our hearts.

“Slow Food is all about the enjoyment of local, high quality, seasonal food and drink, preserving its heritage and guaranteeing its future as well as helping everyone to have access to it. Members of the international Slow Food movement number over 100,000 in more than 150 countries worldwide. By joining Slow Food East Suffolk or another local group, members can get involved in local events, tastings, dinners, food safaris, cookery demos and other exclusive member get-togethers.

“Slow Food East Suffolk celebrates all that is great in cooking, eating out and general deliciousness in this part of the county and will highlight all the superb events and initiatives based around seasonal, high quality food and drink that happen in east Suffolk throughout the year,” she added.

As well as organising a number of events throughout the year, the team behind Slow Food East Suffolk also hope to engage with the media, politicians and communities in relation to food and drink issues and plan to give financial aid and impetus to launch projects and initiatives which conserve our local farming and food production heritage and help change it positively for the future.

“Our aim is simple, to help everyone enjoy the pleasure of great food and drink and the good company of other members,” Julie explained.

“We hope to be a showcase for all the different quality local food and drink events in this part of Suffolk by promoting them far and wide.

“We also want to become a recognised stakeholder and voice piece in the media calling for good sense in how we value food and drink production, farming, tourism and the countryside, which brings so much financial value and employment to the county, and above all we hope to leave a small but evident and worthy sense of change in specific ways on the local food and drink landscape.”

She continued: “Particular activities we hope to help support are cookery lessons and sensory experiences for young school students to encourage their love of food, a practical campaign to save local livestock and plant varieties unique to the county such as the critically-endangered Ixworth chicken and the wild Aldeburgh / Dunwich beach apple trees, and in the longer term to have culinary competitions for young people and local food awards to encourage a new generation of foodies and to build on even further on the strong local enthusiasm for great food and drink.”

The group’s first public appearance will be at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival on September 27 and 28, where there will be a Slow Food East Suffolk stand and fun sausage-making demonstrations to get involved with.

And, looking ahead, there’s plenty more planned for the rest of this year.

“We hope to be having an informal ‘mardle’, our SFES term for a members’ get-together at both the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival and at the Woodbridge Shuck seafood festival in early October,” Julie said.

“In mid-October, we will be having a group Fungi Foray in north-east Suffolk, foraging with expert guides for edible wild mushrooms, followed by lunch at The Bell At Sax in Saxmundham High Street for members and non-members. Whilst during November, members will be encouraged to meet for a bit of a ‘mardle’ at the Flavours Winter Food Festival on November 14 to 16 at the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s Trinity Park Showground.

“In early December, we are planning to have a group event at the excellent Kenton Hall Cookery School, with a culinary demonstration on a festive theme from award-winning chef Peter Harrison and a suitably seasonal lunch afterwards .

“Next year it will be much more of the same and other exciting new things, certainly lots of farm visits, food safaris, tastings and more of that general deliciousness!”

For more information about Slow Food East Suffolk and to find out how to become a member of the movement visit www.slowfoodeastsuffolk.org.uk.

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