13 May 2021

A CELEBRATED chef, a Bake Off finalist and a cooking legend are just some of the ingredients being added into the mix for this year’s Sunderland Food and Drink Festival.

The Festival – which will take place throughout June – will be the perfect concoction of virtual events and in-person socially distanced experiences.

And organisers Sunderland BID and Sunderland City Council have now announced some of the big names who will be taking part this time round.

Acclaimed French chef, Jean Christophe Novelli – who was a huge hit when he appeared in person at the first festival in 2019 – will be running a number of cook a long sessions, as well as an event where he will talk about his life and answer questions.

Food lovers can also tuck into virtual classes with television chef, Rustie Lee, who is as well known for her raucous laugh as her culinary expertise.

Great British Bake Off finalist, Alice Fevronia, has also been signed up to appear, bringing a touch of the tent to the festival.

And to ensure that youngsters also don’t miss out, CBBC’s Stefan Gates, who combines cooking with science and fronts up tv’s Gastronuts, will be running some online sessions.

Other events involving local restaurants and cooks will also be announced in the near future, along with an ambitious community cake decorating event.

The hope is also to encourage people to visit Sunderland’s fast-growing food and drink scene and support local businesses -in a socially distanced way -as part of the festival.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID is delighted the event can return.

“The Food and Drink Festival was a huge success in 2019 but then it had to be cancelled last year because of Covid-19,” she said.

“Although we can’t bring it back just yet in the same format, we have put together a really exciting programme with something for everyone to enjoy – even if it is in their own homes.

“We’re looking forward to being able to share details of more of the events in the coming weeks.”

Councillor Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Vibrant City, said: “It’s brilliant to see French chef Jean Christophe Novelli, who was hugely popular at the 2019 festival, making a return appearance.

“We’re also looking forward to welcoming tv chef, Rustie Lee who I think is amazing, Great British Bake-Off finalist, Alice Fevronia and CBBC favourite Stefan Gates to the mix. It should make for a really exciting festival.”

For further information on all events taking place visit Sunderland Food and Drink Fest on Facebook.