THINGS are hotting up for this year’s Christchurch Food Festival which takes place on the weekend of May 10-11.

This year will see special appearances from the festival’s patron Lesley Waters, as well as Cyrus Todiwala, a regular guest on Saturday Kitchen and co-presenter of BBC’s The Incredible Spice Men, who will both demonstrate their amazing cooking skills over the weekend The Christchurch Food and Wine Festival was originally held as an event to celebrate the Millennium in 2000 and its success that year led the organisers to make it an annual event, now in its 15th year.

The idea for the event came from Mary Reader, then at Christchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce, to promote Christchurch as a place to visit, which in turn would help to promote the town’s businesses where there were already many great eateries.

The festival built on this as well as developing it as a community event which aimed to educate people in healthy eating especially with the work of the Festival’s Education Trust, which focuses on the local schools, as well as organising the Kids’ Kitchen, which is a favourite event each year at the festival.

Now seen as one of the best food festivals in the UK, it has attracted a number of celebrity chefs over the years including: Anton Edelman, James Martin, Gary Rhodes, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Paul Rankin, Brian Turner and Nick Nairn, to name just a few. Well-known TV chef Lesley Waters is a regular at the event and has now become the patron of the festival The festival has gone from strength to strength with new events, ideas and offers each year. This year it has expanded its events for youngsters.

Following the success of the Kids’ Kitchen at previous events, this year there will be more workshops at two venues. Four Kids’ Kitchen workshops will be taking place at The Priory School in Wick Lane on the same days as the Festival Market – Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11 – with a further two at The Kings Arms Hotel in Castle Street.

All six sessions have been sponsored by the Rotary Club of Christchurch and Waitrose, Christchurch. All workshops will last for an hour and a half and cost £5 per person.

The workshops with Lesley Waters have sold out already. Festival president Mary Reader said: “We are extremely grateful to The Rotary Club and Waitrose for their support for these workshops, which means we have been able to keep the cost of each session down and expand into two venues.

“I am confident any young person taking part will not only learn some valuable cookery skills but also have fun.”