Scallop Festival Boosts Winter Trade

Rye Scallop Festival was an outstanding success, due in no small part to the enthusiasm and drive of Festival co-ordinator Lorna Hall. Almost every event was fully booked and some seats could have been filled twice over.

Participating restaurants report they were busier than they had ever been at this time of year and local fishermen and fish outlets were hard put to keep up with demand.

An excellent video, introduced by popular local reporter Andy Hemsley, on the Observer website, was an added boost to the event which had already been publicised worldwide on the Rye Scallop Festival website run by webmaster Lorna Hall.

This is the fifth and by far the most successful in the series of Rye Scallop Festivals. The event was brainchild of former Rye Town Manager Yolanda Laybourne who introduced it to “shorten the winter for the hotel and restaurant industry in the town”. Judging by results this year her idea was certainly a step in the right direction.

“One of the best things about this year’s scallop festival was enabling the diner to learn about the role of the fishermen in Rye in relation to the restaurants” said Paul Phillips of the Ypres Castle Inn. This was especially obvious at the very successful Boat to Plate Experience run by the Ypres Inn on Saturday 23 February when Russell Drew of Market Fisheries gave a talk and demonstration on scallop harvesting and preparation at Simmons Quay followed by a cookery demonstration and scallop tasting at the Ypres by chef Paul. Owner and head chef of the Fish Café, Paul Webbe, was also very informative about locally caught fish and scallops at the cookery demonstration and lunch at the Fish Café on Friday and Saturday. He is very keen to encourage his customers to try not just Rye Bay Scallops but also the locally caught less well used fish such as Gurnard, Dabs and Huss. Over 90 customers attended the two demonstration events at his Tower Street restaurant.Winter1

Other events that took place and were sold out during the week were the Try a Scallop sessions at Simmons Quay on 15th February, the Sussex Wine and Scallop Dinner at Webbe’s at the Fish Café and the two fabulous Gourmet Scallop dinners at the George Hotel in Rye and Webbe’s. Those who were unable to attend the Fun Food Quiz on Wednesday missed a great treat. Searching food related questions came first followed by a very testing tasting session – again hosted by Paul Phillips and the Ypres Castle Inn. Brian and Jill Elliott of the Windmill Guest House were admirable winners and amazed everyone with their knowledge of herbs, wines and cheeses.Winter3

Food Quiz winners at the Ypres Castle Inn, The Windy Millers (Brian and Jill Elliot) centre with Chef Paul Phillips and event organiser Lorna Hall.

The organisers were also delighted that local brewery, Shepherd Neame, produced a very tasty Scallop Stout especially to help us celebrate the festival which is available at the Cinque Ports Inn in Rye. Feed-back on the Scallop Festival has been very positive again this year with restaurants and accommodation providers reporting increased bookings and local fish suppliers inundated with new customers.

The organisers are very grateful to all the participating businesses who helped make this such a special and very interesting event and to 1066 Country Marketing for their assistance in promoting it so well.Thanks go also to the Rye Partnership for their help with funding, to Richard Hayden of Hayden’s for the brochure design, to Brian Elliott for all his help and to  for acting as ticket office.

“Rye’s Own” March 2008

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