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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Town to welcome top chefs for food festival

A GALAXY of Michelin-starred chefs are set to descend on Dalton as the town plays host to the greatest array of cooking talent ever assembled in Furness.

Over five nights some of the world’s most decorated culinary masters will personally prepare dishes guaranteed to send the tastebuds of 500 diners into overdrive.

Months of meticulous planning and negotiating by Lindal-based meat supplier Lake District Farmers will finally be rewarded when the One Week Only food festival opens tonight.

The charity event is being held to raise money for the Lake District Farmers Armstrong Family Charitable Trust which, in association with the Evening Mail, will hand out £24,000 to local causes.

Fifty-two-year-old businessman and philanthropist Ray Armstrong, after which the trust is named, was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and liver last August.

His colleagues at Lake District Farmers, with the support of PKA in Barrow where he is managing director, drew on their contacts at the country’s best restaurants to help raise money for local causes. Lake District Farmers managing director Dan Austin said the excitement had been building for weeks as more and more top industry figures added their support to the event.

He said: “We feel absolutely exhilarated. The whole company’s buzzing. We’ve had great discussions with the chefs and we’re very, very confident it’s going to be the perfect event.”

Barrow’s own Hairy Biker, Dave Myers, has rearranged his busy filming schedule to make himself available to greet guests as they arrive at Clarence House tonight.

Diners will eat canapes and sip champagne before award-winning chefs Simon Rogan, of L’Enclume in Cartmel, and Nigel Haworth, of Northcote Manor in Lancashire, cook three courses of their signature dishes. London chef Marcus Wareing, who is tipped to add a third Michelin star to the two held by his restaurant The Berkeley, has handmade special chocolates to accompany desserts on each night.

An auction of cookbooks signed by some of the biggest names in the business, including Gordon Ramsay, Rick Stein, James Martin, Michel Roux jnr, Monica Galetti and Pierre Koffmann, will be held each night to raise extra money for the trust fund.

Mr Austin said the support shown by so many leading luminaries had exceeded all the organisers’ expectations.

“We believed it would be a success, but we didn’t for one minute believe it would turn into the event that it has,” he said.

Victoria Barber-Bolam, from Clarence House, said preparations could scarcely have gone better.

“The hotel is so proud to be hosting this,” she said.

“The phenomenal response just goes to show that the people in the local area really do care about supporting charity – and having a good time.”

Mr Austin said his close friend Mr Armstrong was stunned by the support.

“It has really, really touched him,” he said. “Ray’s been overwhelmed by all the messages he’s been receiving, by the speed with which all the tickets sold and he’s been touched by the work that the team, myself and Steve (Winward) have put in.’’

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