The Big Feastival today have announced the remaining musicians and chefs who will comprise the line up at the festival in August. Held on the Cotswolds farm owned by Alex James, bassist of Brit-pop legends Blur turned cheesemaker, the Feastival features a dual billing of musicians and chefs, supported by street food vendors, a producers market, and something called the “collaboration kitchen”. It adds to (or perhaps, as it has been running for close to a decade, began) an emergent trend that is increasingly seeing chefs elevated to the ranks of artists and musicians in event promotions across the UK.
The Big Feastival’s headliners include past heavyweights Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, and Pierre Koffmann, making for a somewhat retrograde representation of the restaurant industry compared to that which will feature at Oxfordshire’s Wilderness Festival just three weeks prior. Then again, this is a festival hosted by a guy from Blur, and featuring Peter Hook, so it’s fair enough.
Other attendees — perhaps more representative of today’s industry — include Andi Oliver, Gizzi Erskine, and 2017 MasterChef winner Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, as well as Merlin Labron-Johnson and Ashley Palmer-Watts.
On one hand, it is exciting to see such public validation of the creativity and artistry that is intrinsic to cooking and hospitality, and yet so often seems to be forgotten by a public who still largely view work in the industry as less a career, and more a stop-gap for students.
On the other, it also raises questions as to the “rock star” aspirations of those in the industry. Simon Rogan is eager to present his sort-of eponymous restaurant, Roganic, as “rock ‘n’ roll”, as if that moniker actually communicates some essence of what the restaurant is about, while the rock star behaviour of chefs like Tom Sellers and S Yuma Hashemi —who both very publicly lost it at respected critic Fay Maschler — or Gordon Ramsay, for example, is well documented and does little to quell ideas of chefs as egomaniac sociopaths.
And yet, also none of that likely matters. Because food and drink and music have gone hand in hand for millennia, and they will continue to do so. Maybe it’s just that all the millennials who used to take boxes of Pot Noodles with them to sleep in the mud at Glastonbury are growing up, and now, with partners and children in tow, are forcing festival promoters to re-think their target audience.
Either way, it’s fair to assume Jay won’t be attending:
I can't lie. I think 'Alex James Cheese Hub' may be one of the most depressing arrangements of words I've ever come across. https://t.co/yLADDGhEZE— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) April 19, 2018
When I ride a bike the saddle catches on my Alex James Cheese Hub.— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) April 19, 2018