River Cottage is 20 years old! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the team will be celebrating their birthday throughout 2019 with a full diary of exciting events, special guests, unique feasts and their most extensive course schedule to date.
From the first series ‘Escape to River Cottage’ which hit our TV screens in March 1999, Hugh - chef, broadcaster, campaigner and writer has continually championed food provenance and sustainability, not only through his media work but at River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon border. Over the years an incredible team have joined him for some or all of his journey so far and will be an integral part of the year-long birthday party.
The Legacy of River Cottage
To find out more about River Cottage's anniversary, Hugh told us about more about what the past 20 years have meant to him:
"When I began renting the original River Cottage - a tiny lock keeper’s cottage near Netherbury in Dorset – it was simply meant to be a bolt-hole from London. But that idyllic place soon got under my skin. Before long, I was inspired to leave the city altogether and seek out a more self-sufficient and sustainable way of life in the West Country. Those early days fired me with a desire to get closer to the source of the ingredients I chose for myself and my family, to reject the mass-production of food and the intensification of farming and to respect the environment I lived in. These ideals have guided me ever since, informing my writing, my broadcasting and my campaigning, from the first River Cottage Cookbook, to my Fish Fight and War on Waste campaigns."
"It’s a quest I’ve been delighted to share with the many wonderful and talented people who have become part of the River Cottage story over the last two decades. I’ve learned so much from them - and been privileged to share that knowledge with the legions of viewers, readers, supporters and guests without whom none of this could happen. Thanks to this spirit of collaboration, River Cottage has become a truly collective enterprise. As we celebrate our 20th birthday this year, I am unbelievably proud of what, together, we have achieved – our cookery school and smallholding, our many TV series and award-winning books, our restaurants, and our trailblazing, law-changing campaigns."
"We have exciting plans for the future, of course. And we look forward to sharing them with you. At their core will always be our unshakeable commitment to honouring and respecting the source of our food; to resisting its industrialisation, and the devastation of our planet that so often entails; and above all to celebrating the deliciousness of food prepared with love, from ingredients grown with respect, by people who care."
River Cottage Food Fair 2019
One of the most significant birthday celebrations in the calendar this year is the River Cottage Food Fair on May 25th-26th (May Bank Holiday weekend in the UK), which will be full of cooking, demos, growing, tours and (most importantly) eating. Hugh has curated a line-up of stellar food talent and speakers including Yottam Ottolenghi, Kate Humble and Samin Nosrat to provide thought-provoking and possibly controversial, debate and discussions and of course the usual suspects of the talented River Cottage team including Gill Meller, Steven Lamb and John Wright will be there too.
This hugely popular, family annual event is a food lover’s dream and a chance to learn new culinary skills, get up close to the animals as well as being treated to wonderful entertainment such as chef demos, cooking over fire in the new BBQ area, artisan food stalls, craft workshops, masterclasses, talks and live music. At the River Cottage Food Fair, you can relax in our wonderful surroundings or fully immerse yourself in what’s on offer. Tickets for the River Cottage Food Fair cost £15 with free admission for under 16’s and can be bought here.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary, F&W editor Dee Laffan will be at River Cottage all this week. Make sure to keep an eye on our Instastories to check out what she's getting up to!