Monday, 16 April 2018

Blue Collar Food

Those of you that are in Reading regularly may well have already discovered Blue Collar food and the Wednesday street food market that they hold.  For us it is one of the best discoveries we have made in the last 6 months, thanks to social media.  So great that we wanted to find out more about the force behind it all and the upcoming festivals planned at Forbury Gardens this year.

Glenn Dinning, owner of Blue Collar Food, was more than happy to talk to us over coffee about all things street food, festivals and the future.

What was the inspiration behind Blue Collar Food?
Blue Collar food was born out of frustration that many of the great options that we have when we travel into London were not available here in Reading.  I have a love of food and that is at the heart of everything that I organise.  So street food seemed like the perfect choice to work with, it felt like the right and current trend to follow.  The first event took place in September 2016 in Forbury Gardens, last year this continued to be a success.  I ran six 3 day festivals in Forbury Gardens, aiming for the first weekend of the month. The name Blue Collar Food comes from the history behind Reading and the blue collar workers of Huntley and Palmers, also including the colour of Reading Football Club, as a local this was important to me to have a story behind it.

Why the change in the set up this year for the festivals?
The festivals in 2017 worked well and had been a success, so I wanted to build on this and take it to the next level.  There was then the opportunity to enhance the event, so the aim was for bigger and longer events.  This is where the 3 festivals have evolved from, so this week there will be Cheese Feast 19-22 April 2018, a 4 day festival involving all things cheese based, not forgetting great bars as well.  In the summer will be the biggest one yet, a 3 week long Feastival and then in October there will be Meat Feast. 

What are you most looking forward to about Cheese Feast?
Cheese, what isn’t there to look forward too!  It’s quirky and I wanted a theme to follow on from all the hard work and success of last year.  I absolutely love cheese, so I am excited to have a festival that has cheese in all varieties.  Here are just a few of the traders who will be at there this weekend:

Gourmet Cheese Toasties, Hottmess Halloumi Fries, The Mac Shack the ultimate Mac n Cheese, Polentista, (Authentic Italian polenta chips),  Village Maid farm (From Reading will be there with a variety of cheeses available for a cheeseboard), John the Greek, Hot Pot Nachos, Rad Burger (Favourites from last year’s Feastival events - dry aged, pasture fed burgers with halloumi and rosemary fries), The Cheesecake Club, to name a just a few.

Not forgetting there will also be The Blue Collar bar, Seeing the launch 'Blue Collar Beer', an easy drinking lager on draught brewed by Tap Social (a brewery that specialises in employing reformed criminals). Other Tap Social beers will be available on draught, while Brewdog cans will also be available alongside cocktails, pimms, prosecco, wines, soft drinks and more.  All the beers are vegan friendly, and alongside the Vegan Burrito stand, many of the traders will be providing vegan friendly options.

What will be special about this year’s events?
Each festival has a different twist on it.  Cheese feast speaks for itself, involving all things cheese related, new bars and the new Blue Collar Beer.  The whole point of Blue Collar is to bring something new and quirky to my hometown that will be enjoyed by all.  Feastival will be held in Forbury again, 25 May until 17 June.  It will be open Wednesday –Sunday along with bank holiday Monday.  It will be bigger and better than the events from last year, including a new two tier seating area along with the usual hay bales and seating.  There will be live music, as well as the usual mix of traders with a fantastic array of street food.  The final event of the year will be Meat Feast,  11-14 October and this will be held in the Abbey Ruins, which are due to be reopened in June.  There are many meat street food traders, so Meat feast will have a variety of meats and BBQs all being cooked in the Abbey Ruins, a place steeped in history.

What does the future hold for Blue Collar?
As the whole point of Blue Collar food, is to put on events that are quirky and different, focusing on great food.  My aim is to have a permanent set up here in Reading that offers a variety of street food alongside a great selection of drinks including cocktails.  I would love for it to have an area where the food can be seen being prepared and cooked whilst enjoying a drink and relaxing atmosphere.  This would not be in place of the Wednesday market but in addition too.  SO watch this space!

It is clear that Glen works hard and his passion is a mixture of events and food, he is someone who enjoys the challenge and clearly gets a buzz from the events.  You will always find him at the market on a Wednesday, he will be at all the festivals, working hard, and making sure everything runs just as he has envisioned it.  The festivals are sure to be a success and we can’t wait for them!  Remember the entry to all Blue Collar events is free.  So no need to buy a ticket just turn up and enjoy the food!

For more details and updates follow Blue collar food on InstagramTwitter and Facebook

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