Foodies rejoice! If you’re hungry to meet celebrity chefs and home-grown Sussex superstars from the local culinary scene you’re in for a treat as the UK’s biggest food and music festival is back. Foodies Festival, the nation’s celebrity food and music festival, returns to Brighton for the May Bank Holiday weekend.

And it’s all in the best possible taste as this year’s festival is even bigger than ever with a sizzling line-up of local chefs as well as champions from MasterChef, Great British Bake Off and Great British Menu.

Showcasing the best of Sussex, many of the region’s most-highly acclaimed Michelin and multi-award-winning chefs will appear alongside MasterChef champion Tom Rhodes, Great British Bake Off favourite Jürgen Krauss and MasterChef: The Professionals champ Alex Webb at Preston Park 4-6 May.

The local line of chefs includes Jamie Halsall, Head Chef from Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded Cin Cin, Mark Charker, Head Chef from 2AA Rosette-awarded The Bell in Ticehurst, Alun Sperring, co-founder and chef from Bib Gourmand awarded Chilli Pickle, Lee Parsons, Chef-Patron from 2AA Rosette-awarded The Parsons Table, and Paul Peters, Head Chef from 3AA Rosette-awarded Amberley Castle.

But you don’t need to wait until then as Sussex Life has spoken to some of our favourite chefs and persuaded them to share their recipes for you to make at home.

4-6 May, Preston Park, Brighton. £21 adult, £4 child, weekend (3 day) tickets from £38. Entry to all theatres is included in the ticket price.

Great British Life: Mark CharkerMark Charker (Image: Mark Charker)

Mark Charker, 35, Head Chef at The Bell in Ticehurst, who lives in South Chailey

What made you interested in cooking?

Ever since I was 14 or 15 I always loved to be in the kitchen, watching my dad try and cook for us. That was around the same era when Gary Rhodes and Rick Stein were in their prime on TV.

How did you get started in the culinary world?

I started off in a small fish and chip shop where I grew up in Burgess Hill. Soon afterwards, at 17, I was lucky enough to land a commis chef job at Ockenden Manor Hotel, which has a Michelin Star restaurant, under the close supervision of Stephen Crane and Vincent Fayet.

Which ingredient would you take with you to a desert island?

I would have to choose potato, just purely for its versatility and to fill me up.

What is your signature dish?

I’m not sure I have a signature dish. I try not to repeat dishes too often and like to come up with something new or improved from the last dish, but I always like to have a Chocolate Pave on with something seasonal. I like my crab salad tartlet which I’m sharing the recipe of, and I also like a vibrant quail dish in the spring with asparagus and peas.

Who is your food hero and why?

That would have to be Gordon Ramsay or Michael Roux - both legends in their own right.

If you could invite anyone round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be and what would you cook them?

It would have to be coach and former player John Terry - I'm a massive Chelsea and football fan) and would love to hear all the inside stories during our prime. I’d cook handived scallops.

Tell us your foodie goals – what do you hope to achieve with your career/restaurant?

I have always dreamt of getting to the ultimate Michelin Star level, but I am getting older and simply enjoy cooking great food for our guests, which has to be more important.

Your food motto is…

Do it nice or do it twice

Your final meal would be…

fish and chips

What's next in your culinary career?

A new restaurant and open kitchen is being built for early 2025 at The Bell, where we hope to go on to achieve bigger and better things. The sky’s the limit.

Great British Life: Mark Charker's BBQ pulled pork and crab tartletMark Charker's BBQ pulled pork and crab tartlet (Image: Mark Charke)

BBQ Pulled Pork and Crab Tartlet

With avocado puree, pickled cucumber, smoked confit tomatoes, and sea vegetables

  • 2 pork cheeks
  • Table salt to season
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • Smoked paprika, pinch
  • 200ml of red wine
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 4 tbsp spoons of bbq sauce
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cardamom seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 fresh crab claws or pre-cooked and picked crab meat
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1tbsp natural Greek yoghurt
  • Half a bunch Dill, chopped
  • 1 feu de brilliant pastry or puff pastry
  • 4 baby tomatoes (baby plum preferably)
  • Olive oil, drizzle
  • Clove garlic, chopped
  • Half a bunch of thyme, chopped
  • Half a cucumber, cut into quarters and seeds removed (but keep them for later), then cut into squares.
  • 100ml water
  • 100g samphire, sea asta
  • 100g sea trout roe
  • 1 Frisee Lettuce, dressed in lemon juice and salt

Pre heat oven to 150C. Removing any sinew from the pork cheeks and then dry well.

Season the pork cheeks with table salt and dust in plain flour and smoked paprika.

Over a medium heat, caramelise the cheeks on both sides then transfer to a deep tray or casserole dish.

Pour over the red wine, chicken stock, bbq sauce, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, star anise, garlic clove and fresh thyme. Place in the oven and braise gently for 2 to 3 hours until the cheeks are soft.

Transfer to a bowl and gently break the cheeks using the back of a fork. Add some of the task braising liquid back with the cheeks, just to bind.

You can buy cooked crab claws or picked and cooked white crab meat or you can cook them yourselves.

Mix the white crab meat with the freshly squeezed lemon juice, natural Greek yoghurt, freshly chopped Dill and season with table salt.

Roll out and bake pastry tart cases or you can buy and use pre-made ones.

Blanch baby plum tomatoes in boiling water for five seconds then refresh into cold water.

Peel skins and cut into halves.

In a bowl, toss the tomatoes in the oil, freshly chopped garlic and thyme, and place onto a tray and bake in oven at 120C for five mins until just tender.

Pickle the cucumber by pouring the water in a pan and adding the sugar and cucumber seeds for flavour. Bring to boil and pass off any bits. Then strain over diced cucumber and set to one side.

Start by putting the warm pulled pork into your tart case until it is a quarter full. Do the same with the white crab mix. To garnish finish with the cucumber, fresh sea vegetables, confit tomatoes, and Frisee lettuce and add a few drops of sea trout roe.


Great British Life: Alun SperringAlun Sperring (Image: Alun Sperring)

Alun Sperring, co-founder of The Chilli Pickle, Brighton

How long have you been in the business?

I’ve been a chef for a long time - I won’t divulge how long!

What made you interested in cooking?

I was full of wanderlust as a lad and always wanted to travel the world. Cheffing was something that could make that a possibility. The passion for food came a bit later after spending time in some amazing kitchens.

How did you get started in the culinary world?

I studied catering in Brighton. My first ‘proper’ job was in Switzerland in 1989. I then basically spent the next 20 years as an expat working around the globe. This was way before the internet and email and the best places to work were always the top hotels. I used to have a copy of ‘The Leading Hotels of the world’ book, so I’d choose a country and then hand write a bunch of letters to all the hotels from that place and then patiently wait for a reply. I ended up working in eight countries and four continents including a stint on the now retired QE2.

Which ingredient would you take with you to a desert island?

Probably pepper. It makes everything taste better. It was the original Indian spice used for heat.

What is your signature dish?

There are a few but probably the one talked about most is our Oxtail Madras.

Who is your food hero and why?

When I first started out, it was all about classical French cookery, so the Roux brothers, Nico Landenis and Swiss Chef Anton Mossimon to name a few.

My first inspiration in the world of Indian cuisine many years later was Vivek Singh from The Cinnamon Club. I have always had a passion for Indian cuisine and spending time with and working for Vivek and his team gave me a new direction and with my travels in South Asia and the Middle East, The Chilli Pickle was born.

If you could invite anyone round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be, and what would you cook them?

David Lynch would be pretty cool, The French gastro god Ferdinand Point and [actress, food and travel writer] Madhur Jaffrey as a nod from her would mean a lot. Of course, the food would be Indian. A feast of at least 20 dishes nose to tail showing off my knowledge and passion for India and its vast diversity. There will also be a side of my 50% butter mash for Ferdinand.

When I’m home alone I eat…

Anything and everything. Curry for breakfast is common in our house. I’ve been known to have a fish finger sandwich with a generous helping of Nando’s hot sauce.

If you were chosen to present King Charles with a dish what would it be?

I’d research Queen Victoria’s favourites as she had a passion for Indian cuisine and her feasts were legendary.

Tell us your foodie goals – what do you hope to achieve with your career/restaurant?

The Chilli Pickle has had a tough few year, to be honest, but things are on the up now so watch this space…

What impact have you made on the local culinary scene?

I think when we first opened The Chilli Pickle in Brighton over 15 years ago we changed the perception of regional Indian cuisine in a more casual dining market.

Your food motto is…

Great ingredients, big flavours

Describe your style of cooking…

Unapologetic, rustic, bold. Food that makes you smile.

Your final meal would be…

A dozen oysters and sea urchin with condiments with ice cold Martinis. Then some momos [a type of steamed dumpling] - a mix of veg and non veg.

For main, a really spicy, thin chicken curry ‘village style’ on the bone with plenty of pooris for mopping with a side of Dal and a crunchy salad.

Then Singapore black pepper crab followed by Hot Gulab Jaman (I have eaten thousands - one more before I die) and Vanilla Ice cream. Finished off with a big glass of Johnny Walker Blue.

What do you want people who eat your food to say about it?

You changed my life!

What's next in your culinary career?

Let’s see. I’m always fizzing with ideas.

Great British Life: Alun's Tamil Mussel RasamAlun's Tamil Mussel Rasam (Image: Alun Sperring)

Tamil Mussel Rasam

For the Rasam Powder

  • Masoor Dal 2 tsp
  • Chana Dal 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds 2 tsp
  • Dry whole Kashmiri Chillis 6 pieces
  • Black peppercorns whole 1 ½ tsp
  • Cumin seeds 2/3 tsp
  • Curry leaves 12

For the Broth

  • Toovar Dal 2 tbsp
  • Water 1.4 litres
  • Passata 1 cup (fresh tomato pulp)
  • Tamarind water ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder 2 pinch
  • Sea salt - to taste
  • Extra virgin coconut oil 1 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds black ½ tsp
  • Hing ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves 12
  • West country Black mussels 1kg
  • Fresh coriander Chopped 3 tbsp

To garnish

  • Extra virgin Coconut Oil to drizzle
  • Fresh coriander 1 tbsp
  • Black cracked pepper

To make the Rasam Powder, place all the ingredients on a baking tray and cook in a preheated oven at 180c for 8 minutes (you can alternatively toast in a frying pan for 5-6 minutes). Cool and grind to a powder

For the broth, place the toovar dal in a pan with 2 cups of water, simmer until dal is soft. Whisk when soft.

Add tomato pulp, tamarind water, turmeric powder, salt, mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rasam powder and the rest of water, mix well, and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a hot, small frying pan add coconut oil, add mustard seeds to crackle, add Hing, and add curry leaf to crackle. Pour over broth.

Mix well and check seasoning.

Add cleaned mussels to boiling broth, along with the coriander and cover with a lid. Once all the mussels are opened (discard ones that don’t open), ladle into bowls, drizzle with some extra virgin coconut oil, fresh coriander and extra cracked black pepper

Serve with toasted garlic sour dough or spicy chips.


Great British Life: Jamie Halsall will be taking Cin Cin's flavours to the festivalJamie Halsall will be taking Cin Cin's flavours to the festival (Image: Jamie Halsall)

Jamie Halsall , 36, is Chef Patron of Cin Cin, Brighton

How long have you been in the business?

Coming up to seven years.

What made you interested in cooking?

I was working in a restaurant whilst at college and realised I was more interested in food than the courses I was studying.

How did you get started in the culinary world?

I undertook an apprenticeship with the restaurant I was working at and did 1 day of college per week. I liked having the best of both worlds - and made sure I ate out as often as I could.

Which ingredient would you take with you to a desert island?

Chocolate - at least I'd go out happy

What is your signature dish?

I’d say our rabbit croquette with pesto emulsion is by far the dish we're most known for, so I’d have to go with that.

Who is your food hero and why?

Thomas Keller - he exudes finesse, respect and something to always aspire to. His book The French Laundry had a massive impact on me as a young chef and is still my favourite to this day.

If you could invite anyone round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be, and what would you cook them?

I’d invite Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers so we could talk music and he’d give me a little bass lesson. He’s had a really interesting life and would definitely make an interesting night.

When I’m home alone I eat…

It has been known for me to eat an entire tub of Ben & Jerrys...

What impact have you made on the local culinary scene?

When we first opened Cin Cin in Vine St there was nowhere doing freshly made, hand rolled pasta in Brighton - I’d like to think we had a positive impact on bringing high quality, Italian food to Brighton.

Your final meal would be…

Rib eye steak, skinny chips, and béarnaise sauce.

What do you want people who eat your food to say about it?

Wow that was delicious, creative and we’ll definitely be back!

Great British Life: Jamie's Salt Cod MousseJamie's Salt Cod Mousse (Image: Jamie Halsall)

Salt Cod Mousse

The perfect appetiser to whip up for entertaining.

50g Cod


1/4 of 1 White of a leek

1/4 of 1 Onion

1/4 of 1 Banana shallot

1/2 of 1 Garlic clove

Oil, drizzle

Salt & Pepper

60ml Milk

1.5 Bronze gelatine leaves

100ml Double cream

Chopped chives, optional

24 hours prior to preparing the mousse, cover the cod in rock salt for 24 hours, washing the salt off prior to preparing the mousse. Start by finely dicing the vegetables. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the vegetables to the pan, season with salt and pepper and sweat them for 5 minutes.

Add the cod and milk to a pan, cover in cling film and bring to a simmer.

Leave covered for 5 minutes, and in the meantime soak the gelatine in cold water.

When ready, add the gelatine leaves into the cod and milk mixture. Remove from heat and blend everything on high for a few minutes.

Pour the mixture into a bowl to set.

Once set, in a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks

Beat down the set cod cream. Fold the whipped cream into the cod mixture. Add chives if using. Season with salt and pepper and serve with crackers.


MasterChef Champion 2021 Tom Rhodes, 34, lives in Newcastle

How long have you been in the business?

I've loved to cook pretty much my entire life but it's only become part of my career since winning MasterChef in 2021

What made you interested in cooking?

I think it started wanting to be part of my parent's dinner parties. I would watch them and try to help out where I was allowed. Soon I was coming up with menus and cooking for them.

Which ingredient would you take with you to a desert island?

Vinegar. I'm really into great vinegar at the moment and I love a good pickle so I could make those on the island. I could get all the salt I need from the sea. I mean who doesn't love salt and vinegar!

What is your signature dish?

Some people might find this a bit boring but I make a mean roast chicken.

Who is your food hero and why?

Nigella is the OG. She's the cook I grew up watching and she makes everything look so effortlessly, fabulously delicious, and isn't that the goal?

If you could invite anyone round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be, and what would you cook them?

David Attenborough - as well as loving food as a child, I was fascinated by nature documentaries and David Attenborough is the godfather of nature docs. I'd keep dinner relatively simple, maybe the roast chicken, a salad and some bread and butter. Having people over for dinner is more about the people and less about the food, and it’s David Attenborough for goodness’ sake. I haven't got time for cooking, I've got questions to ask!

When I’m home alone I eat…

Beans on toast with loads of sharp cheddar and hot sauce, or instant noodles. Chef who?

Who does the cooking at home for the rest of the family?

It depends what we're having. Mum makes the family favourites, lasagna, the world’s best meat and potato pie, and a mean curry. Dad has a few recipes under his belt that he has absolutely perfected. I guess the rest is up to me.

If you were chosen to present King Charles with a dish what would it be?

Dare I say roast chicken again?! I mean it’s perfect for everything. Switching things up though I think I'd do my winning dessert from MasterChef, a yuzu tart with olive oil ice cream. It's a real showstopper and is the perfect combination of delicious and interesting - fit for a king.

Your food motto is…

Keep it simple, season it well and practice makes perfect. People always ask me what the secret to great cooking is and I think these three things sum it up.

Your final meal would be…

Oysters, Roast Chicken (have you learnt nothing?) and Tiramisu.

What do you want people who eat your food to say about it?

Can I have some more please?

What's next in your culinary career?

I’m working on a newsletter to share more about me and my food, my hot takes and, of course, delicious food and recipes so keep your eyes peeled.