The crowds came out with the sun in their thousands to make South Croydon’s annual foodie fest – the 2015 South End Food Festival – which left many traders virtually sold out.
A staggering 10,000 people flocked to this fourth annual food event in the famous South Croydon Restaurant Quarter, which this year attracted a record-breaking 70 plus food stalls.
Beats and Eats hosted the AmbitionFest stage with acts that got the Croydon crowd cheering for more. They also enjoyed a “fantastic range” of quality international cuisine, al fresco dining, summer cocktails, street entertainment and a packed programme of cookery demonstrations by leading chefs on the Kitchen Theatre Stage.
Many traders – who include top South End restaurants likes Bagatti’s and Brasserie Vacherin, as well as quality streets food traders - either sold out or reported record trade. David Barnini from Imbert Street Food said they broke their one-day record for food sales. “It was really fantastic – our best day ever!” said David, whose business specialises in authentic Italian cuisine. “We couldn’t cook fast enough and sold much, much more than we expected.” The organising committee of the South Croydon Business Association was equally ecstatic, particularly as early showers gave the event a damp start before the sun came out. “The Festival has been a fantastic success – we rely on the support of the public and traders and our wonderful sponsors who have all helped to make this day possible,” said Linda Arthur, chairperson of SCBA, and owner of South End cocktail bar, Bar Txt. “We will definitely be back next year - even bigger and better!”
Malcolm John, chef patron of French restaurant Brasserie Vacherin and SCBA committee member, said it proved beyond doubt that the town had “brilliant restaurants with amazing food.”
“It’s been another excellent festival – I am very proud to live and work in Croydon and this is an excellent showcase for our brilliant restaurants.”
Festival goers enjoyed a Battle of the Malcolm’s, with Malcolm John and Malcolm Ozwaldo, head chef of SCBA member Peter Bagatti’s Italian Restaurant, competing in a ‘cook-off’ on the Kitchen Theatre Stage.
Malcolm John came out on top with three judges from the audience, with his dish of seabass, clams and mussels followed by caramelised pancakes with New Zealand cherries – using ingredients supplied by sponsors Lidl.
The Festival was formally opened at noon by Mayor of Croydon Patricia Hay-Justice who thanked the organisers and festival-goers and said she hoped they would enjoy themselves so much they would continue to return to the Food Quarter as often as she did with her family.
Run by South Croydon Business Association, the other major sponsors include Bagatti’s Restaurant, Barratt Homes, London Borough of Croydon and Croydon Partnership, Malcolm John Restaurants, Lidl, Quantum, and Veolia Environmental Services.
Thanking the sponsors, Councillor Toni Letts, Croydon Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Jobs, revealed that South End Italian Restaurant Bagatti’s – a Croydon favourite for 25 years – has a major celebrity fan.
“Francis Rossi of rock band Status Quo has said in the press that he rates Bagatti’s as the best Italian Restaurant in the world – that’s a real compliment from a star who has travelled all over the world,” said Councillor Letts.
Demonstrations on the fully equipped Kitchen Theatre Stage were hosted by restaurants: Brasserie Vacherin, Olde Goa, Jam ‘N’ Jerk, Uncle Lim’s Kitchen and Quantum with Peter Bagattti.
The live music line up included Da Groovestation, Skylar Lawson, Love 2 Dance, Meyers Jazz Quartet, Soul Symphony Choir, Jules Phoenix & Remi F, Celtic folk rockers Homebrood, Tenyson, Hipsinc and The Penny Fathers.