Lovers of the spicier side of life are in for tasty treats as one of the UK’s biggest chilli festivals returns to the North East.
For its fifth year the ever-popular North East Chilli Fest comes to Delaval Hall near Seaton Sluice in Northumberland on the weekend of 2 and 3 July.
It is the last time the festival will take place at Delaval Hall before it moves to a new location in the North East – so organisers are promising it will bigger and better than ever.
As well as more than 80 independent food producers the event will feature top quality entertainment, including performances from Brit nominee and multi-platinum selling soul star Kenny Thomas, Newcastle funk band Smoove and Turrell – fresh from an appearance at Glastonbury – eight-piece North East soul band SouLutions and The Din from London.
There is also a cabaret tent – where magician Chris Cross will perform alongside Burlesque dancer Suzie Sequin, daredevil Charlie Burns and Elvis impersonator Mike Memphis – and real ale and cocktail bars.
As ever, one of the highlights of the weekend will be the 2016 North East Chilli Eating Competition.
“But it’s not all about chilli,” said Mark Deakin who, with his wife Shelley, is organising the event. “There’s food and fun for everybody. It’s a festival in all senses of the word – a real family event – and as it’s the last one at Delaval Hall we want to make it a real celebration before we take it to an even higher level.”
The North East Chilli Fest attracts food producers from all over the UK, including Mr Vikki’s from Cumbria. It was set up by chef Adam Marks 10 years ago. He is a self-confessed chilli addict as well as a winner of 91 Great Taste awards. “I just love hot food. I’ve got a chilli addiction. I can’t eat a meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner – without it.”
The festival had helped people in the North East develop a taste for heat. “Everybody loves a bit of chilli now,” said Adam. “I believe that people in the North East like their chilli hotter than anybody because it drives out the cold and the damp.”
Nurse Suzanne Cannon – Mark Deakin’s sister – and her husband Gary, who is a window fitter, will be preparing their special brand of Hot Stuff Chilli Company sauces in their kitchen in Sheffield before travelling to the North East. “It’s a bit of a man thing – people come up and say what’s the hottest you’ve got,” said Suzanne.
Closer to home, Earl Gough from Newcastle has become a familiar face at North East food festivals with his range of Bernie Bumm sauces. “People just love chilli. It stops food being boring and bland. Once you’ve spiced up your food with one of my sauces you won’t forget it in a hurry.”
Organiser Shelley Deakin said: “We’ll be sad to leave Seaton Delaval Hall but the festival’s outgrown it. We’re determined to go out with a bang.”
The Deakins, who live in New Hartley, have had a busy summer organising and running a series of Proper Food and Drink Festivals in South Shields and Whitley Bay, with more to come in Cramlington and North Shields.
For more details about the North East Chilli Fest and to buy tickets visit its website www.chillifest-ne.co.uk/