Tom Kerridge's popular Pub in the Park festival is coming to Kent

PUBLISHED: 15:01 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:01 12 March 2018

Tom Kerridge (photo: Craig Matthews)

Tom Kerridge (photo: Craig Matthews)

CMatthews Photographer

TV chef Tom Kerridge is bringing his new food and drink festival Pub in the Park to Tunbridge Wells

~~~

WIN 2 TICKETS TO PUB IN THE PARK

~~~

When Tom Kerridge walks through the door of Sankey’s restaurant in Tunbridge Wells for our meeting, it’s hard not to beam as if at an old friend.

Despite the dramatic weight loss (he’s gone from 30 stone to 18 by cutting out carbs and alcohol), the celebrity chef remains one of the most recognisable faces on TV and is as likeable in person as he comes across on screen.

Tom Kerridge and Rob Taylor of The Compasses at Crundale (photo: Craig Matthews)Tom Kerridge and Rob Taylor of The Compasses at Crundale (photo: Craig Matthews)

“Alright, mate?” he greets me in his lovely West Country burr, as he proceeds to tell me about his new venture, Pub in the Park, which launched last year in his home town of Marlow and is now coming to Kent this summer.

That first event sold all 18,000 tickets in 24 hours and the organisers are hoping for more of the same at Dunorlan Park, when the heady mix of great food, live music, shopping and chef demos is brought to the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells on 6-8 July.

The loyal ‘Marlowvians’ are being treated to another glorious festival feast in May, then it’s on to Bath (8-10 June) and Tunbridge Wells, which will see chefs from both events (including Tom’s own Michelin-starred pubs, The Hand & Flowers and The Coach) – plus a handpicked quartet of Kent’s finest.

And alongside such luminaries as “great mates” Steve Harris of Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Seasalter (where Tom has a holiday place) and Mark Sargeant (bringing Spanish delights from the transformed Wife of Bath) and the Tanner brothers (The Kentish Hare), I am delighted to see my friend Rob Taylor of The Compasses at Crundale.

He’s looking a little ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ sitting next to Tom, but says he leapt at the chance when he got the highly unexpected ‘call’ and that his customers are already very excited for him.

Tom explains: “This event is not all about showmen, it’s about great food. That’s what is separating Pub in the Park from other chef-led cookery festivals. This is a celebration of food that includes great music – and represents Kent, which Rob does brilliantly.”

The original idea came from talks with his business partner Chris Hughes. “It started off as tenth birthday celebration for the Hand & Flowers but it took so long to organise three years went by and we’d missed that landmark moment,” laughs Tom.

“But the more we thought about it and structured it, the better the idea got and it became a proper celebration of British food, not just the pub.”

He adds: “The first one was all people nearby who I knew really well and are great mates, so they’re coming with me plus wherever we go we’ll work with chefs I know and who are making great use of local produce.”

As well as Tom on stage, expect to see his friend Angela Hartnett (“she’ll just rock up and do something amazing”), Paul Ainsworth, Atul Kochnar (the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star) and other household names.

Each pub set-up will do three different dishes, which you can sample at £5 each. So you could set a budget of, say, £30 and wander around choosing six Michelin-star quality dishes for lunch.

And then of course there’s the music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Confirmed acts include Tom Odell, Toploader, Razorlight, Mel C and Scouting for Girls – rather different to Tom’s music of choice.

“At the moment I’m listening to Men of North Country signed to the Acid Jazz label. I like a lot of Indie/Mod stuff too. But I’m a big fan of all music.”

Both Tom and Rob have young sons (“by 8pm last year my little man Acey was out of it!” laughs Tom) and love that the festival has a proper family feel, with five hours each afternoon to wander around with younger members.

“The most important thing for us is that the people of Tunbridge Wells and Kent love it,” says Tom. “It would be deemed a success for me if Rob here came away telling me he and his customers had had a fantastic time.”

Pub in the Park

Where: Dunorlan Park, Pembury Road, Tunbridge Wells TN2 3QN

When: 6-8 July 2018

Sessions (five hours each): Fri eve, Sat pm, Sat eve, Sun pm and Sun eve: timings tbc

www.pubintheparkuk.com/tunbridge-wells

More from Food & Drink

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Shrove Tuesday falls on 25 February so why not make some classic pancakes using local eggs from your favourite market and maybe even stoneground flour from Pure Kent?

Read more
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Led by a female Australian head chef, the Twenty Six is benefiting from a menu that celebrates sharing, seasonality - and the joys of brunch

Read more

Escape from the mundane into an elegant country house experience complemented by a rather gorgeous spa

Read more
Friday, January 31, 2020

Think pink for Valentine's Day with these blush tipples

Read more
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Greensand Ridge, the craft distillery near Shipbourne in the Weald of Kent, has been recognised in the annual Spirits Business awards with the 2019 Distillery Sustainability Award

Read more
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Kent Life spends a festive morning with Christmas Bake Off star Jane Beedle in her Faversham home

Read more
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Bake Off star Jane Beedle shares her recipe for this delicious festive cake

Read more
Friday, December 13, 2019

If you're keen to explore when the 18th-century equivalents of the Krays held sway, read on and explore some of Kent's evil history

Read more
Friday, December 6, 2019

Nothing beats finding a corner next to a crackling fire in a cosy pub, so we rounded up 12 of our favourites in Kent to escape the cold

Read more
Friday, November 29, 2019

After a glittering ceremony on 28th November, we can now proudly reveal the winners of this year's awards

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life