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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall celebrates 20 years of River Cottage and announces first guests for the River Cottage Food Fair 2019

River Cottage is 20 years old! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the team will be celebrating their birthday throughout 2019 with a full diary of exciting events, special guests, unique feasts and their most extensive course schedule to date.

From the first series ‘Escape to River Cottage’ which hit our TV screens in March 1999, Hugh - chef, broadcaster, campaigner and writer has continually championed food provenance and sustainability, not only through his media work but at River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon border. Over the years an incredible team have joined him for some or all of his journey so far and will be an integral part of the year long birthday party.

Hugh says…

"When I began renting the original River Cottage - a tiny lock-keeper’s cottage near Netherbury in Dorset – it was simply meant to be a bolt-hole from London. But that idyllic place soon got under my skin. Before long, I was inspired to leave the city altogether and seek out a more self-sufficient and sustainable way of life in the West Country.

Those early days fired me with a desire to get closer to the source of the ingredients I chose for myself and my family, to reject the mass-production of food and the intensification of farming and to respect the environment I lived in. These ideals have guided me ever since, informing my writing, my broadcasting and my campaigning, from the first River Cottage Cookbook, to my Fish Fight and War on Waste campaigns.

It’s a quest I’ve been delighted to share with the many wonderful and talented people who have become part of the River Cottage story over the last two decades. I’ve learned so much from them - and been privileged to share that knowledge with the legions of viewers, readers, supporters and guests without whom none of this could happen.

Thanks to this spirit of collaboration, River Cottage has become a truly collective enterprise. As we celebrate our 20th birthday this year, I am unbelievably proud of what, together, we have achieved – our cookery school and smallholding, our many TV series and award-winning books, our restaurants, and our trailblazing, law-changing campaigns.

We have exciting plans for the future, of course. And we look forward to sharing them with you. At their core will always be our unshakeable commitment to honouring and respecting the source of our food; to resisting its industrialisation, and the devastation of our planet that so often entails; and above all to celebrating the deliciousness of food prepared with love, from ingredients grown with respect, by people who care."

One of the most significant birthday celebrations in the calendar this year is the River Cottage Food Fair on the late May Bank Holiday weekend, which will be full of cooking, demos, growing, tours and (most importantly) eating. Hugh has curated a line-up of stellar food talent and speakers including Yottam Ottolenghi, Kate Humble and Samin Nosrat to provide thought-provoking and possibly controversial, debate and discussions and of course the usual suspects of the talented River Cottage team including Gill Meller, Steven Lamb and John Wright will be there too.

This hugely popular, family annual event is a food lover’s dream and a chance to learn new culinary skills, get up close to the animals as well as being treated to wonderful entertainment such as chef demos, cooking over fire in the new BBQ area, artisan food stalls, craft workshops, masterclasses, talks and live music. At the River Cottage Food Fair, you can relax in our wonderful surroundings or fully immerse yourself in what’s on offer.

River Cottage Food Fair
25-26 May 2019
Tickets £15, under 16’s go FREE


Notes to Editors:

For interview requests with Hugh and the team, event attendance or further press information, please contact:
Elli Geraghty at River Cottage|01297 630 322|

20 Years of River Cottage
The River Cottage hub has been set up to chronicle daily life at HQ by capturing stories, anecdotes and expertise from the brilliant team. In addition to the blog there will be food and garden inspiration - seasonal tips, recipes and practical advice – as well as news from behind the scenes at the events and courses. It will look back to the very beginning of Hugh’s makeshift smallholding in the ramshackle original River Cottage, how the team has grown and developed, what has been learnt along the way and what future plans are afoot. There will be regular updates from the River Cottage Kitchens in Axminster, Winchester and Bristol too, and tales from people whose lives have been changed in significant ways, big and small, by their connection to River Cottage.

River Cottage Food Fair
Saturday 25 May – Sunday 26 May 2019
River Cottage HQ, Trinity Hill Road, Axminster, Devon, EX13 8TB

About River Cottage HQ:

River Cottage has been a household name in Britain since 1999, when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall first brought his hands-on, ethical food ethos to our TV screens. Since then, the River Cottage books, TV series and Hugh’s hard-hitting campaigns have changed the eating habits of the nation, as well as improving the welfare of our farm animals and the sustainability of our fish.

River Cottage HQ, situated on the Devon-Dorset border, is a thriving 100 acre organic smallholding. It’s also home to the multi award winning cookery school, and the base for unique dining experiences and events including weddings and private parties. Renowned for its keen sense of seasonality and sustainability and proud to champion the best local producers: it’s a foodie hub where you can learn, cook, eat and be inspired.

There are River Cottage Kitchens in Axminster, Bristol and Winchester. These award-winning restaurants and delis manifest the River Cottage philosophy by using the very best seasonal ingredients from the surrounding area. Alongside fresh, seasonal fruit, veg and wild foods, the Kitchen menus showcase fish and shellfish from West Country day boats and organic meat and dairy products from local farms.

Hugh says “It's our greatest delight to share our passion for food integrity and consumption of local, seasonal produce with tens of thousands of people every year”

Travel: Axminster station is just 5 minutes away by taxi (direct trains from Waterloo-Exeter) Directions Accommodation

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a multi-award-winning writer and broadcaster known for his uncompromising commitment to seasonal, ethically produced food and his concern for the environment. He has earned a huge following through his River Cottage TV series and books, as well as campaigns such as Hugh’s Fish Fight, Hugh’s War on Waste and his latest, Britain’s Fat Fight.

Hugh’s early smallholding experiences were shown in the Channel 4 River Cottage series and led to the publication of The River Cottage Cookbook (2001), which won the Glenfiddich Trophy and the André Simon Food Book of the Year award. Thirteen more books have followed, including the acclaimed River Cottage Meat Book and the immensely popular River Cottage Veg Everyday. Hugh’s latest book is River Cottage Much More Veg.

Hugh established River Cottage HQ in Dorset in 2004, and the operation is now based at Park Farm near Axminster in Devon. An organic smallholding, HQ is also the hub for a broad range of courses and events, and home to the River Cottage Cookery School.

Hugh’s broadcasting has earned him a BAFTA as well as awards from Radio 4, The Observer and the Guild of Food Writers. Besides more than 20 cookery-based series, Hugh’s TV work includes hard-hitting campaigns such as the highly influential Fish Fight, which brought about changes in fisheries law at the European level. Britain’s Fat Fight, aired on BBC1, tackles the national obesity crisis.

Hugh continues to work as a journalist and wrote a weekly column for The Guardian between 2006 and 2014. He is a vice president of Fauna and Flora International and a patron of Switchback, a charity that helps young offenders find opportunities in the catering industry.

Hugh, his wife Marie and their four children divide their time between East Devon and Bristol.