What’s the connection between Elizabeth David and the South Downs Food Festival?  It all started when Johnny Grey walked into the Farm Shop to buy cheese and we started chatting.  It turned out that Johnny lives locally in Rogate and is a renowned British interior designer, author and educator, known for his influential work in kitchen design. He is also the nephew and literary executor of the Elizabeth David estate. I suggested that we must start a food festival.

Elizabeth David published Mediterranean Food in 1951, followed by a series of iconic books that include Italian Food, French Provincial Cooking and Spices, Aromatics Herbs and In the English Kitchen. She wrote about food as a source of pleasure and sensuality, bringing the magic of the sun and landscape of the Mediterranean to embrace the idea that regional cooking is the key to an authentic cuisine. For Britain, a country in the food doldrums or post-war rationing, with no recognised cuisine at the time, she offered a pathway to a new food culture.  Auberon Waugh once said that food writer Elizabeth David would get his vote as the single person most responsible for improving British life in the twentieth century,

Elizabeth David lived in Folkington in the South Downs, and while it seems you need to be of a certain age to know who she is, her influence over the current leading lights of food is enormous.

“She was a true trailblazer, a woman who has inspired the finest cooks in this country” Jamie Oliver

“I tell all our students to read her books. Not only does she write wonderful prose but the books and the recipes are still very of the now. French Provincial Cooking would be my desert island book” Darina Allen

“Elizabeth David was a friend of my parents … They had all her books, including a first edition of Italian Food, so her style of cooking was a great influence on me.” Rick Stein

“Her recipes are timeless, and all her books wonderful works of reference (and tirelessly researched) as well as beautiful reads.” Tom Parker Bowles

Prue Leith bought Elizabeth David’s kitchen table at auction and has agreed to open the South Downs Food Festival.  I hope you can join us in September to find out more…

South Downs Food Festival Tickets

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