Hunks of meat slow cooking over an open grill, hand built using old brewery equipment. A renowned chef whose signature style is cooking superb dishes over open fires. And a bar stocked chock full of Skinner’s beers. Oh yes!
We can’t think of a better combination for a summer festival. That’s why we’re pulling out all the stops at this year’s Port Eliot.
We’ve been to the Festival before but not like this. As well as the usual bar selling our range of beers, this year we’ll also be transforming some of our beautiful old metal brew tanks into a mega wood-fired bespoke cooking contraption.
We’ve invited our friend and top chef Freddy Bird from the Lido in Bristol to cook for us. And we’re just a little bit excited.
Freddy grew up in Devon where he loved nothing more than foraging, fishing and building fires. He’d catch fresh fish with his Dad then cook them over open flames on the beach (he still does when he gets the chance) and it’s that process that fires up his love of cooking.
He says: “It’s the simplicity of fresh fish and fire – there’s just something about those simple combinations and the freshest ingredients — knowing that the food just tastes right and you know where it’s come from.”
Freddy has cooked in top restaurants including The Square and Moro in London. Then he returned to his native West Country and opened The Lido, where his distinctive style of cookery – ‘BirdFood’ – with a focus on Moorish and Mediterranean tastes cooked over fire – has won him critical acclaim. It’s relaxed, unpretentious and just plain scrumptious.
We’ll be building Freddy a series of bespoke Skinner’s fire pits forged out of old metal brew tanks where he can suspend joints of meat to slow cook over the flames and take on those delicious smoky, charcoal flavours. He’s already got plans to create some distinctive dishes to complement our beers as well as using the beer itself as an ingredient.
He explains: “I’m cooking Friday and Saturday so I’m going to look at doing two things. One will be an American-style barbecue with slow cooked sticky ribs and burgers and a classic BBQ sauce made with Skinner’s Hops ‘n’ Honey. Then the other will have a Spanish feel – something light and tapas-style with whole chunks of meat – perhaps Spanish pork or Pyrenean lamb hung over the fire and slow cooked to go with a Lushingtons for an amazing summer vibe.”
It’s his first time at Port Eliot but Freddy has cooked at a host of events including Camp Bestival and the Abergavenny Food Festival. He also co-presents Channel 4’s Hidden Restaurants alongside Michel Roux Jnr.
He says: “I don’t like doing festivals with standard set-up kitchens – I like a fire and find people are drawn to it. I also think it’s much more real and where I’m most comfortable. And people see you’re not using gadgets and gizmos and complicated techniques – it’s simple tips and ingredients and it means people feel they can go off and have a go themselves.”
After the festival we’ll also be collaborating with Freddy to create a brand new brew for his restaurant. So what’s he looking for?
“Basically I’m looking for the perfect beer to accompany tapas. Maybe a saison-style. We’ve talked about using champagne yeasts and creating something light and delicate with a sour and fresh taste.”
We can’t wait!
Port Eliot Summer Festival
Port Eliot Festival takes place on July 27-30 in St Germans, Cornwall. Join the party and watch Freddy cook by buying your tickets here. Or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and keep an eye out for our latest images from the site.
(If anyone else builds a barbeque using unusual equipment we want to see it!)