A couple on a mission to improve the quality of vegan food at festivals already has a pair of celebrity endorsements in the bag.
Peter and Paula Horsley, from Gateshead, started Nomad Curries 18 months ago and over the weekend their food proved highly popular at the Whitley Bay Proper Food and Drink Festival, which attracted thousands of visitors to the Spanish City Plaza.
Paula’s sister is the actress, singer and dancer Jill Halfpenny and her daughter Chelsea is currently starring in the role of Dr Alicia Munroe in Casualty.
“Chelsea, who is a vegan, has also been an inspiration for us,” said her step-father Peter, a former solider with The Light Dragoons. “They both love our food,” said Paula.
She works as a supply maths teacher and Peter, an engineer, has had a number of jobs, but their ambition is to work full-time on Nomad and one day open a restaurant.
“We haven’t quite reached that level yet. We are making inquiries, but at the moment we’re trying it out for size at festivals and see how it goes,” said Peter.
“We’re both vegans and big festival goers, but there was never anything available for us – apart from chips.”
As well as making food for vegans, Nomad’s curries are also free from soy, gluten, nuts and dairy products.
“Our aim is to make good and tasty food that anybody can eat – and it seems to be really well received,” said Paula.
Proper Food and Drink Festival organiser Mark Deakin said: “We’re always trying to widen the choice of food available at our events. We’ve been on the lookout for good vegan food and we’re delighted to have Nomad Curries on board.”
Harrison & Griffiths are also on a mission: to bring a taste of the Caribbean to the UK.
Colin Harrison had worked in the maintenance team for 20 years at a secure children’s unit in Nottingham, but was baking cakes – based on his mother’s recipes – in his spare time. He met Paulette Griffiths, who was a cook in a care home, and the couple started making cakes together, set up their business and got engaged.
“People travel more these days and go to places like the Caribbean,” said Paulette. “They’ve been on a cruise and tried the rum cake. There it’s very dense and dark. We wanted to make something lighter. It took Colin three years to perfect it, but it’s now paying off.”
The pair are busy visiting food festivals all over the country. Their cakes have already been sold in Harrods and they are confident that other retailers will stock them as well. Their products do not use additives or preservatives and they are increasing their range of cakes so they are suitable for diabetics and customers who are gluten intolerant.
The Proper Food Festival has already visited North and South Shields this year, attracting a record number of people. Each weekend provides a showcase for producers – whether they are brewers, butchers, distillers, bakers or chefs.
As well as enjoying the variety of food and drink available, visitors to the festivals also have a chance to win a fantastic prize provided by Smooth Radio. It is offering a weekend for two in London, staying at the five star Renaissance Hotel with dinner at Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant. Travel is also included. Smooth Radio will be running other promotions and competitions in partnership with the Proper Food and Drink Festivals throughout the summer.
There are two more Proper Food and Drink Festivals this summer: Cramlington on 28 and 29 July and Blyth on 11 and 12 August.
Mark and his wife Shelley also run the ever-popular North East Chilli Fest – which this year has a new home at Meggies Burn Fields at South Beach in Blyth and takes place from the 13-15 July – and The Great North Feast, which returns to South Shields over the August Bank Holiday weekend.