I got there early, which turned out to be a good plan as by lunchtime, it was very busy. I spent a happy time in the morning sampling everything on offer in the Producers' Village part so didn't need a breakfast. I decided I would come back later to some places, which was a mistake - partly because I couldn't remember all of them when it came to making purchases but also because it was so busy later on.
The other person I wanted to meet was Dhruv Baker, the winner of Masterchef. Not only do I follow him on twitter, but he follows me also after I talked him into it as he was also following the lovely CoffeeCurls. She had given me strict instructions to find him and give him a big kiss and who am I to argue? But how to do it?
I booked myself to go to a session in the Supertheatre featuring Dhruv cooking off against Lisa Faulkner, who won Celebrity Masterchef, but there was no opportunity to meet the presenters (and yes, John and Greg were there too). After I came out, I was trying to figure out what to do when I noticed where people involved in the presentations seemed to come out. So, in a slightly stalkerish fashion, I hung around trying to look nonchalant. Nothing seemed to happen for about 10 minutes but then John Torode and Lisa Faulkner appeared. A couple of minutes later, Dhruv appeared. I walked up to him and said who I was. I delivered said kiss and I got this photo taken of us. Scuse me grinning like an idiot.
Dhruv was really lovely and was so nice to me. I'm really glad I made the effort to find him. I hope I didn't seem like a stalker to him. Lisa was very jealous when she heard I'd actually achieved my mission.
To complete the foodie celeb fest, I also saw James Martin, Michael Caines and Paul Rankin doing book signings/demonstrations.
And the food? Oh yes..... I came away with goose fat, some dip mixes, a pile of nice crisps, a load of cakes, some spiced berry cordial - and one of the macarons made by Tim Kinnaird, who was also a Masterchef finalist, whom I met at his stall after Dhruv's recommendation. My God, it was divine.
If you ever go to the show (which I'd thoroughly recommend), try to go on a quieter day in the week and get there early to avoid the worst of the crowds. If you're going to buy later from a stall, make sure you know where the stall is - it's like a maze in places.
But overall, enjoy it. It was great to be reminded of the wonderful food that is now available to buy in this country - whether it was produced here or not - and that we have some fantastically talented people turning that food into superb dishes. I was less impressed by the £8 parking charge. Seriously, NEC, what is that all about? But overall, I had a brilliant day and still can't believe I actually got to meet both Edd and Dhruv.
I will definitely be going again next year - but maybe I'll do a little less