Food news in Kent

Michel Roux at Shipbourne Farmers' Market

Michel Roux at Shipbourne Farmers' Market - Credit: Archant

June is Kent Farmers’ Market Month, when we especially celebrate the great products our stallholders have to offer. With the soft fruit season just beginning, now is a wonderful time to visit your local market

Kent Farmers’ Market Month

June is Kent Farmers’ Market Month, when we especially celebrate the great products our stallholders have to offer. With the soft fruit season just beginning, now is a wonderful time to visit your local market.

And for those who are already regular shoppers, at this time of year we invite you to act as ambassadors for your local market and Bring-a-Friend.

As Bob Taylor, Vice Chairman of Kent Farmers’ Market Association and long-time manager of Shipbourne Farmers’ Market, explains: “Word of mouth is the most trustworthy advertising, so our shoppers can make a huge difference by asking just one or two friends to come with them.”

Or people can use social media to support the month. Through their Twitter followers and Facebook friends, people have the chance to make a difference by encouraging their contacts to visit their local markets.

Beth Davies, who runs the new Alkham Valley Farmers’ Market in East Kent, says that one of the hardest things about getting a new market going was letting people know it existed, especially when there is no money for marketing.

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“However, if current shoppers could tweet the Kent Farmers’ Markets’ website address, it would help potential shoppers quickly find their nearest markets.”

The website ( lists each market’s dates, venue and stallholders, and it also has details of special events being held at many markets as part of Farmers’ Market Month.

“We have a vibrant food culture in Kent,” says Association Board member and manager of Rochester Farmers’ Market, Annette Lebreton. “In the last seven years, we have grown from around 200 stallholders to over 650, and there are over 100 wonderfully dedicated volunteers organising 50 different markets across Kent.

“By shopping at Farmers’ Markets, you don’t just enjoy delicious food, you are directly supporting our local economy. Please come and join in the celebration of great Kentish food.”

Have you made your nominations in the Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards? Don’t delay, nominations close on 31 July 2015 – visit today!

Dinner with Sarge

Mark (‘Sarge’) Sargeant is best known in Kent as the celebrated chef who trained at the former West Kent College and four years ago this month opened two restaurants in Folkestone - Rocksalt Restaurant and The Smokehouse Fish and Chips.

But he also juggles a busy portfolio of restaurants and hotels in the capital and has just launched his new Great British menu at The Strand Dining Rooms, where he is chef director.

Kent Life had the chance to try dishes from Mark’s new menu, which offers British classics in a modern style and focuses on the use of local and seasonal British and especially Kent produce.

Look out for meat dishes such as a 28-day aged Angus Porterhouse steak or whole roast wood pigeon, along with fish dishes such as poached Loch Duart salmon and vegetarian offerings including Romney Marsh salt-baked beetroots served with horseradish, purple sprouting broccoli and honied walnuts (voted a winner by the veggie diner in our party).

Desserts continue the Great British theme with rhubarb crumble with clotted cream and lemon cheesecake with Earl Grey prunes.

Just a minute’s walk from Charing Cross train station, it’s an easy ride for Kent diners keen to discover Mark’s latest venture, which has a sunny terrace overlooking Trafalgar Square.

The Strand Dining Rooms restaurant and bar is at The Grand Buildings, 1- 3 The Strand, London WC2N 5EJ, 020 7930 8855.

Summer food festival

Walmer Food and Drink Festival arrives on Walmer Green for its inaugural event on 13 and 14 June.

Curated by the team behind Canterbury Food and Drink and Whitstable Oyster Festival, 2015 promises to be a great first year for the new kid on the block in Kent’s summer calendar.

With food and drink traders joining in from all over the county, Walmer Food and Drink promises to offer something to suit all tastes, with food from around the world made with the best of Kent produce.

Two days of musical entertainment on the Deal Memorial Bandstand, encompassing the best in local talent, some from further afield and some mainstays in the local music spectrum, brings the perfect accompaniment while you make your way around the food and drink stalls.

And to entertain your children over the weekend, take them along to the kids’ area, where there will be face painters, a selection of fairground rides and much more to keep the kids amused on a summer’s day by the sea.

Entry is £2 for adults who will then receive a weekend wristband and a goodie bag.

Hand picked

Award-winning Hand Picked Hotels has chosen Chilston Park Hotel as its Hotel of the Year in recognition of an outstanding performance in 2014.

The Grade I-listed 17th-century manor house in Lenham, which has four Red Stars, was chosen from the Hand Picked portfolio of 21 hotels.

Julia Hands, chairman and ceo of Hand Picked Hotels, paid tribute to the team effort at the hotel, led by General Manager Gareth Davies. “The guest feedback was consistently good, with guests commenting on the warmth and professionalism of the team in all areas of the hotel,” she commented.

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