BBC Good Food Show in Scotland
As if there wasn’t enough food and drink on television, this weekend sees the Scottish debut of the BBC Good Food Show at the SECC. Still, a live show does mean you can smell, touch and taste the stuff, as Donald Reid discovers
This has been the year of the food fair. Events organisers up and down Scotland have sniffed the air and have, in their droves, turned to food and drink as a way of celebrating local identity and drawing crowds young and old. Numerous towns around the country have launched food festivals, farmers’ markets have grown more prominent, and good local food has even become a significant component of music festivals such as Connect. From organisations based south of the Border we’ve had local versions of successful event formats such as Taste of Edinburgh and the Soil Assocation’s Organic Food Festival. This weekend they’re joined by the largest of the lot, the BBC Good Food Show.
There’s a strong argument that the best food fairs are small, community-based affairs, where small producers have a chance to show off their wares and there’s a real sense of discovery and connection. The bigger food festivals become, the more expensive and time-consuming it is for small producers to attend and the more dominant the branding, the marketing and the sponsorship. On the other hand, larger food festivals are able to parade famous names, grab media limelight and pull in impressive crowds. Food and drink might be popular but at the same time it’s big business.
Over the weekend of 2–4 November the BBC Good Food Show arrives at the SECC in Glasgow for its inaugural Scottish show. The original Good Food Show has been running at the NEC in Birmingham for 18 years and these days attracts 350 exhibitors and some 130,000 visitors over five days. Almost everyone, the organisers included, describes the Birmingham show as ‘overwhelming’ and ‘exhausting’. Yet, it’s a hugely successful and powerful part of the Beeb’s operation. There’s also a summer version in the same venue, a London show and now an event north of the Border, fed by numerous TV programmes as well as spin-off books, Olive and Good Food magazines and various well-padded websites.
In Glasgow there will be around 150 exhibitors and some 15,000 visitors. However, it’s still an event dominated by big names. There are plenty of TV celebrities, including (another, sort of) homecoming for Gordon Ramsay, who’ll be appearing at the Winter Kitchen alongside well-kent faces Nick Nairn and James Martin.
Elsewhere, Henrietta Green’s Foodlovers’ Fair will showcase smaller scale food and drink producers from around the UK while a Tasting Theatre offers in-depth insights into a number of dishes. Familiar local names such as Inverawe Smokehouse, Mackies ice-cream and Valvona & Crolla will be in attendance. Wiseman Dairies have a retro-styled Milk Bar and there will be lots of harder stuff too, from wine tastings to a tie-up with Whisky Live, which takes place over the same weekend in another part of the SECC.
Show director Laura Biggs says, ‘We’re not trying to recreate Birmingham. The Glasgow show will create its own atmosphere generated by the exhibitors. I’m sure it will look great as well as smell and taste beautiful. You can expect a certain standard with a BBC show and we’ve invested in some superb entertainment – a bit of stardust on the top of everything.’
As the Beeb knows well, there’s not much wrong with repeats.
SECC, Glasgow, Fri 2–Sun 4 Nov.