THIS year marks the final Screen Bites Food Film Festival* for co-founders Gay Pirrie-Weir and Fanny Charles, and Caroline Tory from the Tarrant valley. The finale season, the 13th – dubbed the Bakers Dozen Festival – opens with a retro treat, when the original celebrity chef, Fanny Cradock, comes to Orchard Park Garden Centre, Gillingham, on Friday October 13.
Performed by Bristol-based Show of Strength Theatre Company, Fanny and Johnnie Cradock Cook the American Songbook is dinner theatre with a difference, a period-themed three-course meal, (think prawn cocktail, chicken supreme, Black Forest gateau and a glass of Cinzano!) with actors Kate McNab and John Telfer (best known as the vicar in The Archers) cooking, singing and evoking the spirit of the tippling Fanny and her long-suffering sidekick.
“Fanny was the original television cookery star,” says festival administrator Gay Pirrie-Weir. “She inspired others, notably Keith Floyd, who like Fanny enjoyed a glass of wine. In her day she was influential, although we shudder now at the things she did with marrows, not to mention her dyed green mashed potato! Orchard Park’s cooks will be serving something rather more enticing for our audience, and we hope people will get in the spirit and dress for the period!”
Screen Bites began in 2005 with three aims – to celebrate and raise awareness of Dorset’s artisan food producers, to put on affordable events in village halls as part of Dorset Food Week, to screen food-themed feature films from around the world and to show the Savouring Europe series of food and farming documentaries by Bridport-based film-maker Robert Golden. Over the years, all those aims were fulfilled and the one-off original festival grew and became an annual autumn event, covering Dorset from Cranborne to Wootton Fitzpaine and occasionally crossing into Somerset, Wiltshire and the New Forest.
The festival has been on television’s Ready Steady Cook and BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme, was involved in gold medal winning gardens at Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows, celebrated its fifth anniversary by taking over Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre for a day and its 10th anniversary with a memorable gala at Lord and Lady Shaftesbury’s St Giles House at Wimborne St Giles.
The Baker’s Dozen Festival will run from October 13-28, ending at Tarrant Keyneston village hall (the only hall which has hosted the festival every year). There will be a Dorset apple cake competition at Durweston on Saturday October 21.
For bookings and full details of dates, venues and films visit www.screenbites.co.uk or telephone 01963 32525.