We interviewed renowned Spanish chef and owner of Tapas Revolution restaurant Omar Allibhoy ahead of the first Foodies Festival in Mote Park, Maidstone

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The UK’s largest traveling food, drink and music festival, the Foodies Festival, comes to Maidstone for a weekend of delicious treats.

The three-day festival, which takes place in Mote Park, is making its Kent debut this year, bringing celebrity chefs, live bands and street food stalls to the county.

Omar Allibhoy will be at Kent’s first-ever Foodies Festival. Image: Food Festival

Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy is one of the experts who showcased his skills in a live cooking demonstration at this year’s festival, and told me all about his passion for cooking in front of a crowd.

“I love teaching and presenting Spanish cuisine,” says the chef. “It’s exciting, it’s the buzz. There’s something about cooking in front of an audience that gives you buzz and energy.

“It’s the interaction you get from the audience, from the bravest people raising their hands or asking you a quick question while you’re cooking. It looks like a cooking class.

Omar, who was born in Madrid and moved to the UK in 2008, has spent years bringing traditional Spanish cuisine to British restaurants.

“You still find a lot of people who don’t know tapas or Spanish cuisine at all,” says Omar. “Particularly with tapas and paella, everyone has heard of it, but they really don’t know how to deliver it home with friends, family, etc., so I just try to present it in the best possible way. possible way.”

Street food, world cuisine, sweet treats and delicious drinks are served at the festival.  Image: Food Festival
Street food, world cuisine, sweet treats and delicious drinks are served at the festival. Image: Food Festival

Omar has managed to do this with his popular restaurant chain, Tapas Revolution, which he first opened in 2010.

There are now nine Tapas Revolution restaurants across the country, including Bluewater, near Dartford. But will fans find one of their favorite dishes on the Foodies Festival menu?

“I have to say I haven’t planned what I’m doing yet – but I might bring some of the Tapas Revolution classics!” Omar laughs. “Just to show people how we make them so they can see that, even though we’ve grown into a group of nine restaurants, we’re still making fresh things using fantastic products. And also to highlight a paella that makes us famous too!

Omar opened his first Tapas Revolution restaurant in 2010 and now has nine restaurants across the country.  Photo: Ebury Press
Omar opened his first Tapas Revolution restaurant in 2010 and now has nine restaurants across the country. Photo: Ebury Press

The Foodies Festival could prove the perfect opportunity for Omar, and many other featured chefs and food producers, to boost their profile at a crucial time as the restaurant owner has raised concerns about the future of the hospitality industry.

“For us, in restaurants, we had hoped for a very long time,” says the businessman. “We hoped the pandemic would end and everything would be better, and now it seems, unfortunately, that things have become much more difficult. Before it was Brexit and staff, now it’s product costs and energy bills, and customers are tightening their budgets.

“It’s not looking very good for our industry, but we can only wait and see in the months to come.”

The Foodies Festival now draws huge crowds across the country with 12 events throughout the summer.  Image: Food Festival
The Foodies Festival now draws huge crowds across the country with 12 events throughout the summer. Image: Food Festival

However, Omar is hopeful, particularly about what the Foodies Festival has to offer not only him and his fellow chefs, but also the crowds of visitors eager to enjoy a day of food and drink. delicious.

“It’s an event I’m looking forward to,” says Omar enthusiastically. “They have three stages, one dedicated to pastry and bakery, one dedicated to wine and spirits and the other to street food, the one I do a show on.

“You have the carnival, lots of stalls selling food – and by plenty, I mean dozens of them! – the bars, small exhibitors trying to sell the craftsmen’s wares. And then you have the bands live which are super entertaining. Everyone who has enjoyed the Foodies Festival throughout the day finds themselves in front of the stage enjoying the live music and having a few drinks. That’s why I like to do it every year.

Boyband Blue's Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe will perform alongside Scouting For Girls, Liberty X and East 17. Image: Foodies Festival
Boyband Blue’s Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe will perform alongside Scouting For Girls, Liberty X and East 17. Image: Foodies Festival

This year Kent’s Foodies Festival features live music from Scouting For Girls, Blue, Liberty X and East 17. Performers will be joined by chefs such as MasterChef’s Tony Rodd, Dhruv Baker, Sandy Tang and Thomas Frake, as well as Patrick Hill and Alex Yates.

The festival started in Edinburgh in 2006 and now, 16 years later, travels across the country and hosts 12 huge foodie events every summer.

“It is a privilege to be able to take part in the Foodies Festival, to present my cuisine and to spread the word about good Spanish cuisine.”

With world cuisine around every corner, exciting live entertainment and Omar’s stamp of approval, the Foodies Festival is sure to cause a stir when it debuts in Kent.

The Foodies Festival takes place at Mote Park, Maidstone, from Friday 24th June to Sunday 26th June. Book your tickets online here.

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