NEW dishes are being served up on a menu already overflowing with tasty treats at the Echo-backed Christchurch Food and Wine Festival from May 9 to 18.

Tried and tasted events like the popular International Food Fair and the Rangemaster Cookery Kitchen have been retained, but new will be a Kiwi beach barbecue courtesy of guests from twin town Christchurch in New Zealand.

Cliffhanger Café chef Ian Hewitt will get the festival underway by dishing up sizzling holiday fare in an island paradise in a marquee in the town centre.

Festival patron chef Lesley Waters will be taking part in an Education Day which will include the final of the Junior Cook of the Year competition on the first Friday. She also teams up with fellow chef Brian Turner again on Saturday afternoon for cookery demonstrations, after they've officially opened the festival from the Mayor's Parlour balcony, overlooking the international food market at 10.30am.

The High Street will be closed to traffic for the food market. In its place will be thousands of hungry people enjoying the aromas and flavours wafting from about 100 food and drink stalls.

In the demonstration kitchen, Antipodean delights will be whisked up by some top Kiwi chefs while telly chef Nick Nairn will entertain at two Sunday sessions. There will also be a Kids' Kitchen in Druitt Hall, where children aged five to 12 can try their hand at some special recipes and taste foods they may not have had before.

All 10 days of the festival feature special meals and events in restaurants, cafés and pubs across the borough.

Festival president Mary Reader said: "This year's programme is really exciting as there are a number of newcomers to the festival as well as some of our regular contributors.

"So many establishments have agreed to take part that there really is something for everyone."

This year's programme has just been published and is available from the information centre and civic offices. Visit