Get set to party in the park
2nd February 2019
Last summer Dunorlan Park was transformed into a ‘gastro and grooves’ wonderland courtesy of Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park. With the news it’ll be returning in 2019 Eileen Leahy caught up with the Michelin star chef to see what’s cooking for this year’s event
After the huge success of last year’s Pub in the Park at Dunorlan, its mastermind Tom Kerridge clearly can’t wait to get back there judging by how happy he sounds about the prospect when I interview him.
The Michelin star chef, TV personality and successful author, is positively brimming with excitement as he reminisces about last year’s inaugural event.
“Last year you guys in Tunbridge Wells were just the best,” he smiles. “The people and weather were amazing! Everyone was such great fun and there was a great vibe at Dunorlan. The fantastic weather made it special and the fact it was the first year there. But what I also liked was that everyone knew what Pub in the Park was going to be all about. Everyone grabbed it, got and loved it!”
And that, is precisely why Tom and his team are really looking forward to returning again this summer over the weekend of July 12 to 14 for lots more servings of gastro food, good grooves and everything else in between.
Like last year the set up will be the same: There’ll be a raft of famous foodie faces including Angela Hartnett, Atul Kochhar and the Tanner brothers – who run The Kentish Hare in Bidborough – all cooking up a storm at their individual pop up restaurants. There will also be a variety of local artisan food and drink producers present as well as a stellar music line-up: Rick Astley, Soul II Soul Sound System, Basement Jaxx, Will Young and Gabrielle to name just a few. There’s also lots more acts and chefs to be announced says Tom so watch this space . . .
Pub in the Park began in 2017 in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, where Tom Kerridge runs his two Michelin star pubs The Hand and Flowers and The Coach. Last year it successfully branched out to three other locations: Knutsford, Bath and Tunbridge Wells, and this year Pub in the Park has also added Chiswick, St Albans, Warwick and Leeds to its touring schedule. But Tom says that although it’s doubled the number of Pub in The Park venues it will not be doubling the size of each event or compromising on its quality food and music offering.
“Each one will still be the same size because we don’t want it to be packed, we want it to be personal. That was how we found the vibe at each venue last year and that was amazing. I was wandering around seeing people eating loads of food, enjoying the sunshine, having a couple of drinks then watching a band. Now, it really doesn’t get better than that does it?”
Will there be any different elements to this year or will it be a case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? “Well it’s going to still be the same sort of vibe,” explains Tom. “But there will be different dishes and a different slant to things. Think of it like going to your favourite restaurant and ordering something different from the menu this time.
“We’re still growing lots of ideas and thinking along the lines of having more veggie and pudding options as well as more things for kids to do. There are some really fun ideas buzzing around and it’s good to get involved in something like this so heavily because it has a really good vibe.”
And anyone who went to last year’s events will know that’s certainly true. And what makes it such a good ‘vibe’ is that Tom is totally involved in proceedings. If he’s not cooking up some amazing gastronomic fare from his pubs’ pop-ups he’s doing cookery demos, talking to stall holders or donning a high vis jacket to help keep the traffic flowing.
“Yes I am not averse to putting on a high vis if it means I can help out with something,” he chuckles. “Every time we do Pub in the Park we learn from it and ask ourselves how we can do things better. But ultimately if the chefs are all happy then so will everyone else be!”
Is there anyone Tom would love to have on board for this year? “Well not really,” he says. “I have my dream team. I just ask all my friends to do it and most of them say yes! It gives them a chance to have fun and it’s a great time for everyone involved.”
And what about that other essential ingredient – the weather? “Oh my God it would be amazing if the sun shone again wouldn’t it?” laughs Tom. Somehow I think that given his Midas touch with successful festivals Tom might just be able to pre-order some sunshine from the menu . . .
The fantastic music line-up for the Tunbridge Wells Pub in the Park will include:
SOUL II SOUL SOUNDSYSTEM
BASEMENT JAXX (DJ SET)
NATALIE WILLIAMS AND THE SOUL FAMILY
Here are just a few of the pubs who’ll be cooking up a storm at Pub in the Park:
The Kentish Hare, Bidborough
Indian Essence, Petts Wood
The Compasses Inn, Canterbury
The Sportsman, Seasalter
The Hand & Flowers, Marlow
Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia
The Half Moon, Kidford
Café Murano, Covent Garden
For all the latest information on the Pub in the Park bands playing at Tunbridge Wells visit https://www.pubintheparkuk.com/tunbridge-wells/music