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Turner prize catch as the Walled City celebrates very best in NI food at three-day festival

By Rachel Martin

A TV chef whose CV includes Ready Steady Cook, a string of culinary documentaries and cooking for the Queen is championing this weekend's LegenDerry Food Festival.

Brian Turner will make a guest appearance at the event - which runs from Friday to Sunday -alongside homegrown celebrity chefs Jenny Bristow and Paula McIntyre.

The three-day food festival was named 2016's Best Food Event and the city dubbed "Destination Delicious" at Tourism NI's Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink Awards in association with the Belfast Telegraph.

Brian McDermott - resident chef on RTE's Today Show - will compere the culinary action on the main stage in the LegenDerry marquee's Theatre of Food on Saturday. And Mr Turner will wow fans on Saturday with demos in the festival marquee, which will take over Guildhall Square this weekend.

Mr Turner's career had humble beginnings, learning to cook with his late father who was in the Army Catering Corps and based in Belgium during the war. After leaving the Army his father opened a transport cafe, where a young Brian was quickly roped in.

He was once the only boy in his domestic science class and he went on to work in some of London's top hotels, including The Savoy and Claridge's.

His career highlights include cooking for the Queen and he has enjoyed a long TV career, including appearing on the first episode of Ready Steady Cook. Mr Turner served more than 14 years on the popular daytime show and also made many appearances on This Morning, Saturday Kitchen and his own BBC shows, A Taste Of Britain and My Life On A Plate.

In June 2002 he was awarded a CBE for his services to tourism and training in the catering industry.

Mr Turner said he "can't wait" to visit the event, which the Year of Food and Drink Awards judges described as a "massive success". It attracted more than 36,000 visitors over two days last year.

He said: "I am delighted to be taking part in Derry City and Strabane District Council's LegenDerry Food Festival, which was NI's Best Food Event during the Year of Food and Drink and has done so much to put the region on the map as a leading international food tourism destination.

"I've heard fantastic reports about the city and district's famous hospitality and am eagerly looking forward to meeting chefs, producers and visitors who will be flocking to Derry-Londonderry and the north west, which is Northern Ireland's 'Destination Delicious'."

Organisers say another well-known chef - still to be revealed - will headline the opening day of LegenDerry on Friday and broadcaster and food writer Barbara Collins will act as compere.

The festival is part of the city's St Patrick's Day Spring Carnival this Thursday, celebrating Northern Ireland's finest chefs, restaurateurs and producers along with musical performances, street theatre and LegenDerry-themed activities.

The event is run by Derry City and Strabane District Council and includes street vendors against the backdrop of the historic City Walls in Guildhall Square and the city's restaurants serving up their signature dishes on the "Boulevard of Chefs".

Mayor Hilary McClintock said she was delighted that the event had attracted well-known TV personality Mr Turner.

"LegenDerry Food Festival will run for three days across three zones with a feast of family-friendly activities for everyone to enjoy.

"As well as all the live cookery demos and delicious food on offer in Guildhall Square, our top regional producers will showcase an array of mouth-watering products in the LegenDerry Food Hall in the Guildhall's Main Hall," she said.

The success of the council in making the most of the Year of Food and Drink won it the top Destination Delicious accolade at the January awards.

For more information visit www.derrystrabane.com/food

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