Thousands of culinary fans can expect some tantelising treats and exciting flavours at the Southsea Food Festival
A wave of flavoursome fun will sweep through Portsmouth as tens of thousands are expected to gather to celebrate local cuisine.
The number of visitors to the Palmerston Road precinct is likely to hit nearly 40,000 as Southsea Food Festival returns for an 11th year next weekend.
The event is forecast to be as popular as ever, with foodies having the chance to tempt their tastebuds with oodles of freebies from more than 50 stalls – one of the biggest events of its kind in the south.
One vendor gearing up for the occasion is Pete Hunt, 28, who is preparing to roll out tasty meat treats served by his mobile hot dog company.
Founded in 2016, his Southsea-based pop-up, Feed Hot Dog Co, is a street food joint with a twist. While his top-notch dogs garner fans wherever he may be, it’s their overseas impact – transcending the local scene – which really stand out.
For every hot dog Pete sells he gifts a packet of life-saving peanut paste to a programme fighting desperate hunger. This nutrient-rich product is known as Plumpy’Nut and Pete has shipped more than 2,377 packets to Syrian children suffering acute malnutrition.
Pete explains the ethos behind his business. ‘The concept began with us wanting to create great food that made a difference. That was the main driver. Over the course of the past year we’ve sent more than 2,000 packets of food to programmes in Syria. It’s been a real adventure. I’m now looking to get out there to see how the product is used.’
It’s through cutting his teeth at events such as Southsea Food Festival that has enabled Pete’s mission to pick up traction.
Having exhibited his food at the festival last year, Pete says local people are united by the event. ‘It’s great to see the community come together like they do at this festival.
‘Businesses can test their new products and have a great time – the weather always seems to be good too.’
He says festivalgoers can expect a host of exclusive new products from him across the two days, including kimchi fries and a slow-cooked pulled pork hot dog.
Also returning to the festival is Southsea-centric Mexican food outfit, Al’Burrito.
After the closure of its Albert Road branch earlier this year, it has been operating from the double-decker ‘Burrito Bus’ taking its South American flavours to music festivals across the UK, including Glastonbury last month.
‘It’s certainly a completely different set-up,’ says co-runner of the bus, Matt Sinden. ‘Now we’ve got the bus it’s so much easier to attend events.
‘When it’s not being used it’s parked opposite the sea by the Pyramids. People can hop on between midday and 10pm every day when we’re serving, and we even offer delivery within a local catchment area.’
Like Feed Hot Dog Co, the boys on the bus will branch out their menu for the festival. This, Matt says, has a lot to do with modern culinary trends.
‘What we’ve found recently is that vegan and vegetarian options are selling faster every year, so we are now putting more of those dishes on our menu.
‘It’s becoming apparent, everywhere that people are making a conscious effort to watch what they eat for their general health and wellbeing.
‘People are taking a bigger step to eat local produce and some are willing to pay more for it.
‘Mass-produced food is not only bad for the environment, but it also wastes a lot of food. It’s great to stay on-trend and it’s great that people can find food which suits their own beliefs and adapt what they eat around that.’
At the heart of the festival, which will not only feature business stalls, but live cooking demonstrations and music, is Becci Loghlan.
In her role as an economic growth officer at Portsmouth City Council, she has been involved with the event for years.
She says the existence of Southsea Food Festival is testament to the wealth of talent and cuisine the area has to offer.
‘The event really is rooted in the local community. The whole point of it is to showcase local business. The outlets we have operating in Southsea are undoubtedly special.
‘It is their festival and if it were not for the number of traders here, we would not be able to put the event on each year.’
Becci says while these businesses benefit the festival, the effect the event has on local trade is important.
‘There is a big expectation from people that certain traders will be there – they get enormous queues.
‘If it were not for this event, there is a chance some of the really little businesses might not be able to survive. They can give out tasters and hopefully get people into their restaurants.
‘Everyone says they love taking part. It’s an event they would not miss, because it really can be quite profitable for them.’
There’s a financial carrot to encourage hyper-local outlets to take part in the festival too. Businesses located between postcodes PO1 through PO6 receive a preferential rate for setting up their stalls, while those coming from farther afield pay more.
The final result of these businesses coming together across the weekend, says Becci, is ‘really special’.
‘It is amazing – the footfall is massive. The event attracts about 40,000 people.
‘As soon as you get into the road you feel part of something really special.
‘Food and drink brings people together – there’s something about it that makes them connect. As a result, there is a real family and community feel to the festival.’
TASTES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Starting next Saturday at 10am, crowds at Southsea Food Festival can expect to try and buy products from traders specialising in cuisine with Thai, Italian, French, Indian and German roots, to name but a few.
The event runs until 6pm on Saturday, restarting at 10am on Sunday morning and continuing until 5pm.
For more details, visit Southsea Food Festival’s Facebook page, at facebook.com/southseafoodfestival.
A FEAST OF MUSIC
There will be music to accompany the food throughout the festival. A stage will be set up and, courtesy of The Wedgewood Rooms, here are the artists expected to perform across the two days:
- Lewis Smith and the Collision
- That Dani Bird
- Dave Barrett
- Simon Cattermole and Friends
- The Alastair Goodwin Band
- Luke Ferre
- Andrew Foster
- The Vinalls
- Members of
- Assorted Sax
- Waif & Stray
- The Day Of The Rabblement