THE ONLY problem for foodies in Leamington at the weekend was deciding what to have.
A grey start to the Royal Leamington Spa Food and Drink Festival on Saturday did not dampen visitors’ tastebuds with even the ice cream proving popular.
But it was Sunday that lived up to its name as the clouds parted and the sun shone on the thousands who poured into the Pump Room Gardens for the ninth annual festival.
As well as a host of tasty treats and entertainment, culinary competitions also proved popular as audiences gathered to watch the Great Leamington Bake Off and the Home Cook of the Year contests during the two-day festival.
Susann Gallion triumphed in the Celebration Cake category of the bake off with her offering decorated with the scenes of a summer town centre including Leamington’s parks and gardens.
Susann and her husband Michael moved to Warwick from Germany in 2001 when he was posted to the area with his job.
She said: “I wanted a cake to celebrate Leamington. It is such a lovely place and everyone is so very friendly. It is small enough that people get to know you and say hello when you are shopping. I love it.”
The following day saw four amateur chefs go head to head for this year’s Home Cook of the Year competition.
Contestants cooked up a storm in a bid to impress the judges, which included last year’s competition winner Jonathan Carter. After a close contest, Michael Abell triumphed with his three course menu featuring a desert made using his wife Colleen’s homemade honey.
The 38-year-old, who lives in Leamington, said: “The competition has consumed a lot of my time over the last three or four weeks, but I never expected to win.
“I’m a very passionate amateur cook – I travelled in Italy and that sparked a love of food and I also enjoy British food – so taking part was an amazing experience.”
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, which organises the festival, added: “After an overcast start, Sunday was a lovely sunny day attracting thousands of people.
“There was a great selection of stalls and it really underlined the quality of diversity of restaurants and food providers we have in and around Leamington.”