Everything you need to know about Gefiltefest

Logo for Jewish food festival Gefiltefest 2016Gefiltestfest is seven years old. The quirky festival of Jewish food returns to JW3 in Finchley Road on 26 June. I spoke to the festival’s Lisa Helpern for the low-down.

1. What’s the origin of the festival? Who’s idea was it?

It was founded by publisher Michael Leventhal as a charity to explore Jewish heritage through the medium of food.

2. In London in the Summer you can’t move for food festivals and pop-ups. What’s going to make hungry people come down to JW3?

We offer something quite different – aside from our fabulous pop up market there are 40 sessions to choose from throughout the day – workshops, demos, learning sessions, all with the common thread of Jewish food and culture, led by Jewish Chefs, food writers, restauranteurs and so on. We are also kosher under the auspices of the SKA (Sephardi Kashrut Authority)

3. Is Gefiltefest just for Jewish foodies? Or for hungry people in general?

The festival’s for everyone! It’s part of the fabric of London’s cultural diversity.

4. Is Jewish food thriving and evolving? Or is it all about fading traditions?

Most definitely thriving – reinvented and renewed and very in vogue. Take Palomar, the award winning Soho restaurant; Emma Spitzer, last year’s MasterChef runner-up and Aron’s Deli in Bristol – all contemporary success stories in Jewish-inspired cuisine.

5. Who are the superstars at this year’s Gefiltefest? Who should I rush to see?

Everyone! Take a look at the programme (and there are two wine tasting sessions too).

6. What are the big trends in Jewish food you’ll be covering?

Babka, rainbow doughs, kosher prawns, and seasonal eating in line with the jewish calendar.

7. Can I learn to cook at Gefiltefest?

Yes – plenty of workshops and demos (your admission ticket also covers the workshops).

8. Is there anything for the kids to do?

We’ve got drop-off sessions for 5-11 year old through the day and supervised drop-in sessions for 2-11s. There are craft activities through the day, face painters and plenty of tasters in the food market.

9. What are you looking forward to most? What’s got your mouth watering?

Nof Atamna Ismaeel – Israel’s MasterChef winner from 2014 – she’s a microbiologist and an Arab citizen of Israel. Her dishes combine Arab and Israeli traditions in a really exciting way (more about her on the festival web site).

10. Will there be rainbow bagels?

One step beyond, natch – rainbow doughs in hamantaschen!

If you buy tickets in advance there are reduced prices for children and family groups.

All ticket holders will be entered into a draw to win Monarch flights to Israel and sponsor KFH will be holding a draw to win £300 of John Lewis vouchers. There’s also a competition to win a meal cooked for you by UK Masterchef runner-up Emma Spitzer.

Music on the Farm is tomorrow – have you bought your tickets?

logo for Music on the Farm event at Battlers Green Farm, Radlett, 5 September 2015


The mini festival at Battler’s Green Farm is tomorrow (5 September) and we hear there are still a few tickets left. The line-up looks great. Confirmed artists, performing on three stages, include: Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates, rock ‘n’ roll band Dixie, Kingsland Road singer Joe Conaboy and Ben Thapa from G4. The full list is here. Tickets for the day are £21.40 for adults, £11 for kids (children under 5 are free). Buy online here. Better still, the weather forecast isn’t too bad. No rain at least!

The sounds of Radlett Festival

The audience for the combined choirs of St John's and Fair Field schools in Radlett in the rain at the 2011 Radlett Festival

For your listening pleasure, a montage of sounds from last weekend’s Radlett Festival. You will hear Gavin from Tzar in the High Street; Louis (selling cakes for a charity whose name he can’t remember); Nicola and Louise from Radlett Ladies’ Circle (poker nights, cocktails, chocolate but apparently no crochet classes); Nicolai, a governor at Fair Field and St John’s; an anonymous woman apparently looking for some Morris men; the intrepid founder of Salsa Brava, Radlett’s own (only?) artisan salsa manufacturer; the quite unhinged people from Radlett Players; Graham Taylor, chair of the Radlett Society (with his really wonderful Aldenham walkers’ map).

Also Susanna with an entirely unearned coconut; Catherine Rose with her Sweetcheeks gluten-free cakes; the combined choirs of Fair Field and St John’s (with selections from Oliver); Gemma, promoting recycling for Hertsmere Borough Council; the girls from the Radlett World Challenge (they’re raising money for a charitable trip to Thailand and Cambodia); Mrs Strickland, Brownie leader (and long-time Fair Field dinner lady), Clive Glover from Radio Verulam (and the voice of Phil Richards on the mic); John Mileham from Elstree and Borehamwood Light Operatic Society; the sound of Ricky Lopez and his Bratpack show and Sylvia Cohen from the Radlett Festival organisers. Plus some dogs.

I could (and really should) have spoken to so many more people on that rainy day. I missed the Morris men all together and definitely should have spoken to Ricky Lopez and the nice people from Bhaktivedanta Manor (who were there with their lovely free food as usual). Next time!

Download the MP3. Festival founder and chairman Allan Beaver spoke to Radlett Wire a couple of weeks ago. Lots more pictures from the Festival on Flickr. Get audio like this delivered to your computer for nothing: subscribe to the Radlett Wire podcast.

The Radlett Festival. Were we downhearted? Not really

Yes, it rained all day. Yes, the dog show lacked its usual glossy sheen in the downpour. But the Ricky Lopez Ratpack Show proceeded with pizazz worthy of Palm Springs and Clive Glover, one of the organisers, tweeted on Monday that over 1,000 attended the festival during the day so I expect that the event will still have raised a substantial sum for the charities and local organisations it supports (I’ll try to update on that once the details are available). I was taking photos and recording audio of the event (which I’ll publish later) and literally everyone I spoke to during the day was relentlessly chirpy about the whole thing. A proper British Summer treat, in fact.

All the photos on Flickr are published under a Creative Commons licence, which means you may use them without permission and for free. You just need to provide a credit or a link back if you use them. Let me know if you do. And if you’re in any of the pics or you know the names of those who are, please add a comment or a note to let me know.

“I am just a cog in the wheel of a very big machine” – Allan Beaver on the Radlett Festival

Allan Beaver

Allan Beaver, now 77, is widely acknowledged to be the moving force behind the Radlett Festival, responsible for its revival in 2004 and for much of its success – as a fun day out and as an impressive source of charitable funding for local projects – over £40,000 has been raised and dispersed to charity since 2004.

He spoke to me in the lovely ‘teen shelter’ at Phillimore Rec – part-funded by the Festival of course – on the weekend before the festival. It’s a fascinating story – a potted history of Allan’s time in Radlett with his wife Muriel, touching on his business Beaver Travel, his academic life (he’s a professor), his writing and, of course, the Festival itself.

He generously credits the rest of the enthusiastic festival team. The festival starts at noon today and, although it’s raining as I type this, I suspect it’ll be another hit.

If you can’t attend, or if you want to catch up with the excitement before you go, you can tune in two hours of live coverage from noon on our local radio station, Radio Verulam, 92.6FM, or online.

Download the MP3. More pictures of Allan on Flickr. This is an episode from the Radlett Wire podcast. Get every episode delivered to your computer for free here.