Wells Food Festival is going virtual this year, with two days of online foodie fun from October 10-11. We caught up with festival sponsor Charlie Bigham of Bigham’s to find out why he’s keen to support the foodie extravaganza
Give us the lowdown on Bigham’s
Simply put, we’re a business that prepares really delicious food which can be cooked in the oven easily at home. We’re entering our 25th year now so we’ve been doing it for a little while.
What sets your dishes apart from ‘ready meals’?
We don’t make ready meals. For me, ready meals are all about compromise: they usually go in the microwave, are made to last a long time and are packaged in plastic. Our food is designed for people who really care about what they eat; people who often cook from scratch but fancy a night off. The crucial driver for us is not how long the meal lasts or how much it costs but how good it tastes.
What’s your favourite type of cuisine?
Personally, I love Middle Eastern food. We have a couple of Moroccan dishes in our repertoire but, at the moment, Middle Eastern food isn’t widely popular across the UK so there’s a limited market for it.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world and I’ve visited quite a lot of the Middle East – it’s an extraordinary cuisine. Even now, with the popularity of chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi, we’re still relatively underexposed to it in the UK and I’ve been waiting for it to become a trend here for 20 years.
What would your desert island meal be?
It would be a very long one with multiple courses – I’m quite happy to sit down and eat 20 courses over a couple of hours. I’d take an extraordinary chef with me, probably someone like Mark Hix, who’s fantastic at doing brilliant things with seasonal British food, and ask him to create 20-25 extraordinary mouthfuls for me to enjoy while I drank several glasses of good wine.
If Mark came with me, not only would he cook some delicious food, I know we’d have some great laughs and that’s a key part of enjoying a meal.
What’s Bigham’s connection to Wells Food Festival?
For the past three years, we’ve produced most of our food from a fantastic kitchen located in an old quarry just outside Wells. As soon as we heard there was a food festival in the area we wanted to be involved as we’re passionate about food and believe it should be talked about and celebrated. We’ve been supporters of the festival since the day we arrived in Wells.
What can we expect from the festival this year?
Events have overtaken us this year and the festival cannot happen in the normal way, so it’s all gone virtual.
We’re helping out in every way we can to support the small producers who’ve had a tough time over the past couple of months and hopefully this is going to give them a leg up. We’ve created a website which showcases over 100 producers with links to all of their websites so you can read stories about the people behind those businesses and order from them.
We’ll also be setting up an online shop so you can browse and buy from them all in one place. On top of that, we’ve got talks, demonstrations and there’s even some live music – it’s going to be a really fun weekend.