Goods for sale at last year's festival Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes
Goods for sale at last year’s festival
Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes

Calling all food-lovers (that’s everyone): the annual Fife Food Festival returns to Younger Hall this Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm. Organized by the Fine Food and Dining Society, the Festival brings local food and drink producers from all over Fife as well as other areas of Scotland together under one roof. Their products include jams, chutneys, ciders, beers, wines, macarons, cakes, chocolates, honey, smoked salmon and even handmade, gourmet dog treats.

“We’ve tried to go for a really wide mix,” said Stephanie Belenkov, events officer of the Fine Food and Dining Society and the event director of the Fife Food Festival. “It’s such a wide variety that I think everyone will be able to find something they want to jump at in there.”

For just £3, everyone—students, local residents and anyone else—can go into Younger Hall for a look and a nibble. Most vendors will give out free samples for visitors to try (including those selling alcohol).

“We’ve encouraged everyone to give samples,” said Stephanie. “I think especially as students, no one wants to shell out a fiver for some awesome chutney if you have no idea what it’s going to taste like.’”

Don't forget dessert! Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes
Don’t forget dessert!
Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes

Hot food will also be sold at the Festival for those who want to dine on the spot. Inside the venue, visitors can enjoy Ghanaian food by Esi’s Ghana Hot Pot, Afro-Caribbean cuisine by Blue Banana and Japanese gyoza and noodles by Harajuku Kitchen.

Outside Younger Hall, there will be Mexican food by Mighty Mexican, vegetarian Alpine dumplings by Alplings and hot drinks by Nicattos, as well as free canapés handed out by the Fine Food and Dining Society. This means that people passing by or stuck at the library can quickly grab a delicious bite without paying the £3 entrance fee.

While local producers can sell their wares at the monthly St Andrews Farmers Market, the Fife Food Festival will feature a larger number of businesses—approximately 45—and bring in more exhibitors from further away. Although several familiar St Andrews businesses will be at the Festival, such as Eden Brewery, Forgan’s and Iain Burnett, many more will be coming from other areas of the county and country.

“All of them are really quite small, local businesses,” Stephanie said. “A lot of people literally make [their products] in their kitchen, which they have certified, of course, but it’s their home kitchen, and they make their jam and their chutneys or whatever it is, and they bring it [to the Festival].”

Visitors can also watch cooking demonstrations by Jamie Scott, winner of MasterChef Professionals and head chef at The Rocca Grill here in St Andrews. Mr Scott will be doing two demonstrations, at 12 pm and 3 pm, each lasting an hour. Those interested should book a place by emailing fifefoodfest@gmail.com.

Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes
Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes

Another treat at the Festival is the raffle bag. For just £5, visitors get a canvas bag with long handles—perfect for food shopping—filled with vouchers for local businesses. These include St Andrews-based shops as well as those from other parts of Fife, from whom you can order online.

The raffle bag also comes with a ticket for the Festival’s raffle. Prizes include food—for instance, a Macsween Haggis goodie bag, a £10 voucher from Pret A Manger, a bottle of champagne from Forgan’s and lunch or dinner at their restaurant—as well as non-food items, such as a Nutri Ninja blender, a signed Jamie Oliver cookbook and an overnight stay for two at The Peat Inn, complete with a six-course dinner at their five-star restaurant. For those who do not purchase a raffle bag, a raffle ticket costs only £3.

The Fife Food Festival is not only about feeding its visitors but also feeding the less fortunate. The Festival is a collaboration between the Fine Food and Dining Society and the University’s Raising and Giving (RAG) Week. Proceeds from the raffle ticket and raffle bag sales as well as the entrance fee will go to FairShare. FairShare takes surplus food from the UK’s food and drink industry that would otherwise be thrown away and gives it to various charities and organizations around the country. These charities and organizations then give the food to those in need. In this way, FairShare feeds about 82,100 people a day.

The Festival should raise a solid sum of money for FairShare if the popularity of last year’s event is any indication. Younger Hall was so crowded during the 2014 Fife Food Festival that some businesses, the venue and the organisers from the Fine Food and Dining Society were concerned about fire safety. However, this year, there should be more space for visitors to walk around. Although 45 businesses is still a relatively large number, there will be about 10 fewer exhibitors in this year’s Festival compared to last year’s. Furthermore, the hot food stands inside the building and their inevitable lines will be sequestered in the conference room on the side of the hall, while the other three will be outside the building. The cooking demonstrations, too, will take place in a separate room. This reorganisation should prove for an even more enjoyable event this year.

Ultimately, that is Stephanie’s hope for the Fife Food Festival. “Our biggest goal is for everyone to enjoy it to its fullest extent,” Stephanie said. “For three pounds entry, it’s open for anyone who wants to come, really. It’s really accessible.”

“It’s important for everyone to get their little bit, for producers to get their business and to spread the word about themselves, for visitors to get their taste of Scottish local cuisine… and at the end of the day, to be able to make a difference at FairShare by donating our profits,” said Stephanie.

Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes
Photo: Stephanie Belenkov for Owl Eyes

To find out more about this Sunday’s Fife Food Festival, visit their website (www.fifefoodfestival.co.uk) or their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fifefoodfestival).

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