THOUSANDS of visitors enjoyed three days of free culinary capers and one red-hot chilli showdown as part of Woking Food and Drink Festival 2019.

Foodies from across the region turned out in vast numbers to enjoy a large helping of celebrity and local chef demos, expert talks, pop-up dining experiences and a fantastic assortment of food and drink stalls, all served with a side of street entertainment and live music.

The French Cainté duo preparing food

Located in Jubilee Square, the professional demo theatre hosted a smorgasbord of top culinary experts, including Sabrina Ghayour, TV presenter and author; Martha Collison, Great British Bake Off quarter finalist and food writer; Laurence Henry, MasterChef: The Professionals 2018 winner; and Chris Bavin, co-presenter of BBC’s Eat Well for Less.

A welcoming Wannat from the Happy Hungry Buddha offers a sample

As well as the alluring pull of the Michelin star heavyweights and celebrity chefs, the Hot Pods chilli eating competition drew the crowds, with three finalists making it through to the tenth and final round, eating the world’s hottest chilli (the Carolina Reaper), before a tie breaker of six random chillies.

Cllr Colin Kemp, Woking Borough Council’s portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said: “It was fantastic to see Woking town centre buzzing with visitors of all ages enjoying the chef demos, free activities and talks, street entertainment and live music, as well as the selection of cuisine available from across the world.

For the full story and special picture feature, get the 5 September edition of the News & Mail

VOTE, vote, vote for Rooster Shack. That’s the message from Imran Mamud, the owner of the fast-food takeaway on Maybury Hill, as he seeks to win a respected Good Food Award.

“We were contacted by the awards group last week that we had been nominated by customers for serving very good, freshly-made food,” said Imran.

Proprietor Imran Mamud is asking his loyal customers to keep voting for Rooster Shack

“We would love to get Woking on the map for winning it, but the important and pleasing point is that it’s our customers who put us forward.

“We’ve been nominated to the shortlist for our category, the takeaways, but to take the next step and win the award, we need our customers to please keep voting for us. That’s what we’re asking them to do.

“We’re very grateful to those who have already helped us, and we hope that anyone who has been impressed by us will take a minute or two to vote.

“The customer vote closes at midnight on August 14, so we’re getting quite close to the finishing line.”

The results will be announced on November 1.

“We’ve done extremely well, with a 6,000-customer following, and we’re aiming to franchise the brand out next year.  We offer a home-delivery service and our app will be available soon.

To vote for Rooster Shack, please visit, or to learn more about its menu visit

For the full story get the 8 August edition of the News & Mail