Eileen Leahy caught up with the Michelin star chef and popular TV presenter to find out what’s cooking for 2022…
Later this month Dunorlan Park will be transformed into a majestic mecca of gastro goodies and great grooves as Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park returns to town.
Happening over the weekend of July 8 to 10, the three-day festival, co-hosted by Michelin star chef Kerridge and Sunday Brunch’s Simon Rimmer, it promises to be an unforgettable weekend.
And when I caught up with the Michelin star chef, TV personality and successful author, he was positively brimming with excitement, telling me that he can’t wait to return to our town.
“This is the fourth time we’re coming back to Tunbridge Wells,” Tom smiles. “We’ve always found you guys to be so supportive of Pub in the Park. It always goes down very well here and we wouldn’t be coming back if we weren’t always made to feel super welcome and super loved. We can’t wait!”
And why does Tom think that the festival, which boasts great food, live music of all kinds and artisan shopping, goes down so well in this part of the country?
“I think quite simply it’s because of the demographic: people here are really into good food; they love music; they enjoy being out and about and like supporting smaller businesses. Pub in the Park ticks all the boxes: it’s family-based, welcomes some great top-rated Michelin star chefs but also local independent ones too and we always have great music. It hits the sweet spot perfectly for people,” explains Tom.
And on that note, visitors to this year’s festival can expect to savour tasty treats from plenty of local establishments including The Tanner Brother’s from The Kentish Hare in Bidborough, Will Devlin’s The Small Holding at Flimwell and also Sankey’s.
In addition to being able to buy and try exclusive epicurean offerings from each venue’s designated pop-ups, there will also be the opportunity to watch lots of specialist cooking demos which Tom will be co-hosting with Simon Rimmer.
“Yes, he’ll be there cooking and chatting away! He’s just fantastic and this is the first time he’ll be coming along to the Tunbridge Wells event.”
Pub in the Park kicked off last month in Dulwich and will also take place in various other venues including Chiswick, St Albans and Brighton – a new venue for 2022 – over the rest of the summer.
Pub in the Park began in 2017 in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, where Tom Kerridge runs his two Michelin star pubs The Hand & Flowers and The Coach. Over the past four years it has successfully branched out to other locations thanks to its great mix of fab food and brilliant live music.
Talking of which, taking to the stage in Tunbridge Wells this year will be Sophie Ellis Bextor, Supergrass, Faithless, The Feeling and former Spice Girl Melanie C.
Local bands appearing include Two Weeks in Nashville, Suncharmer, The Charlie Rivers Band and the Paul Dunton Orchestra.
Anyone who’s been to Pub in the Park before will know that Tom – likes to get totally involved in proceedings.
If he and his famous friends are not cooking up some amazing gastronomic fare, they’re doing cookery demos, and this year Tom reveals that there will be a new addition to proceedings…
“We’re introducing fire pit cookery demos. This type of cooking is always super exciting but during the lockdowns it became a big thing as more and more people spent a lot of time at home and in their gardens. There’s a lot more to it than just BBQing so we will be doing both regular cooking demos and fire pit ones as the stages will be next to each other.
“We want to create a really fun and interactive environment that will be filled with gorgeous smells,” states Tom.
“And plenty of sunshine of course,” I quip.
“Ah yes, that’s right,” laughs the talented chef before adding: “But then the sun has always shone for us here in Tunbridge Wells. We can’t wait to return!”