Chefs will cook up delicious ‘free-from’ foods at Shropshire Frestival

A Shropshire festival specialising in free-from foods and those suffering with allergies has lined up three top chefs for the event in May.

Chefs Richard Fletcher, Lajina Leal and Chris Burt
Chefs Richard Fletcher, Lajina Leal and Chris Burt

Frestival 2019 will take place at the Greenhouse West Mid Showground on Saturday, May 18.

Organisers are aiming to put on an event that allows people to access information about free-from foods and products, learn about free-from lifestyles and take advice from those who already live, and cook, free-from.

The cookery theatre will welcome Mytton and Mermaid head chef Chris Burt, who will be cooking up some Paleo recipes, Richard Fletcher, chef and proprietor of The Pheasant Inn at Admaston, who will be demonstrating dairy-free dishes, and Lajina Leal, of Lajina Masala, with her gluten-free and vegan home-style Indian cooking.

Organiser Ian Bebbington said the festival aims to show people that although cooking free-from can be a daunting prospect to some, it can be easy to incorporate into everyday life.

He said: “There are so many reasons why a person may choose to look for items that are free-from a certain ingredient and why a person may have to avoid certain products.

“We have lined up three expert local chefs who will be able to introduce visitors to the free-from dishes they cook on a regular basis – and show our visitors how to make them too.

“They will be cooking up delicious delights in our cookery theatre throughout the day and will be on hand for any questions.”

Lajina Leal said she wanted to become involved with Frestival to better understand the free-from movement.

“I believe customers should come first so I like to understand their dietary needs and requirements, so it was natural for me to become involved,” she said.

“For my family, I make lots of dairy free gluten free dishes. My favourite curries to cook are simple, tasty ones, especially daals (lentils) as I can stir in a salad at the end, which adds texture and makes them super healthy and tasty.”

Lajina will be revealing nearer the time what she will be cooking for visitors to Frestival as she uses the local produce available to her whenever she can.

Frestival is fantastic,” she added. “It will offer a fresh approach to everyday meals that can be eaten by all members of the family, whether they have intolerances or not.”

Richard Fletcher, who runs the Pheasant with his wife Susan, said he is looking forward to the event.

He said: “I want to showcase my chef skills and the fact that I am passionate about local food. My favourite dishes to cook are fresh fish, local lamb and game.

“Events such as Frestival help show the best of Shropshire chefs and our local produce. It’s important to cook seasonally because you get the best quality, best flavour and good price.”

Richard said his top free-from recipe to make is a lactose-free Yorkshire pudding.

“I’m from Yorkshire after all,” he added.

Chris Burt, who has more than 30 years experience in the industry, said he tries to keep most of his dishes free-from so they can be eaten by a wide range of people.

He said: “At the festival, I’ll be cooking local, season produce minus the butter and gluten and it’ll be Asian inspired and healthy too.

“I love to be involved with as many festivals as possible as there is an abundance of questions about dietary requirements. This is an amazing opportunity to answer a lot of questions for the general public, from vegan to veggie, dairy free to paleo.”

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