The relationship between the Bristol Food Connections festival and the BBC goes right back to the start – even earlier in fact, as the event was sparked by a call to action to the city’s food community from Clare McGinn, the BBC’s Head of Radio and Music Production, and was an outcome of the wider BBC Bristol Partnership: a formal group of locally engaged organisations committed to raising the creative and enterprising profile of the city. Celebrating Bristol’s distinctive approach to food seemed a good way to bring people together.
Bristol Food Connections is just one of the ways that the BBC supports the official city partnership. The festival was seen as a way of bringing partners together to celebrate the city’s unique and food culture.
The idea was to develop a ground-breaking collaborative event – one that the BBC supported with ideas, facilitation and content –that would be delivered by multiple partners across the city: to celebrate Bristol’s creative talents and expertise and showcase an inclusive approach to food and culture. It would offer an opportunity to touch people, reach places and create opportunities that sometimes seem out of reach – and to provide learning opportunities for all ages and backgrounds.
The vision for the event which emerged out of a city-wide consultation was that Food Connections should be affordable and inspirational. The festival should connect people from all backgrounds through the enjoyment of good food, and through truly immersive and participatory experiences; and to leave a legacy and impact on the city over time.
Since Bristol Food Connections began in 2014, the BBC in Bristol has been keen to support the creative development of the event – acting as a catalyst for ideas and every year programming amazing festival content such as Master Chefs Cook Live (2014); ‘In Conversation’ with Rick Stein (2015) and ‘A Life in Food’ with Diana Henry (2016). Also Food Connections has been covered by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour; 5 Live Afternoon Show and Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. Points West and Radio Bristol have been a central presence with Foodie Friday; Facebook Live events and coverage of Food Connection stories.
BBC Food and Farming Awards
The BBC Food and Farming Awards have been proudly hosted in Bristol since 2013 and from 2014 to 2016 were the launch event of Bristol Food Connections – attracting UK-wide coverage on TV, radio and online and some of the biggest names in the UK food world to the city.
“We know from the stories we find in the BBC that food touches all aspects of our lives – around health and wellbeing, it cements family life, marks special occasions. It’s a treat and an essential. It is serious and joyful. Food is about choices, money and time. It can break down barriers and open doors and the right guidance and help can transform lives. 50% of UK families eat a meal together more than twice a week but 67% of these are in front of the TV. Bristol Food Connections is about getting out and experiencing food face to face in communities across the city, meeting new people without labels and just have fun. Sharing tastes and flavours are the starting point for some amazing stories and that’s why we are so happy to play our part in this festival”.