Scallop Festival putting Rye on the culinary map

RYE celebrates the fruits of the sea with the week-long annual Scallop Festival getting underway on Saturday February 25.

The event has helped put the town on the culinary map and draws in foodies from all over the country.

It has attracted celebrity chefs, featuring on the BBC’s Hairy Bikers programme and has even inspired a beer brewed, using scallops, by Kent brewers Shepherd Neame.

This year sees Radio 4 coming to town next Wednesday to record a special preview programme at the George Hotel.

Local restaurants will be serving up imaginative dishes featuring the seafood delicacy and there will be demonstrations at the fish quay on how to shell and cook fresh scallops.

The festival runs until Sunday, March 4, and this year sees more restaurants taking part than ever before, says Jane Ellis of 1066 Country, which is supporting the event.

One of the highlights of the festival is The Great Scallop Race, which takes place on Sunday, March 4, from the Ship Inn at the Strand.

This will see competitors aiming to be first across the finishing line while pushing a wheelbarrow full of scallop shells.

Tony Isted, from Rye Bay Fish, will be cooking scallops fresh from the shell as well as giving a talk on his new eco friendly Envirodredge.

This new method of harvesting scallops does not disturb the seabed and uses less fuel, thereby causing less pollution.

Tony expects to sell more than 5,000 scallops during the Festival.

Jane Ellis said: “The word on the quay is that they are of optimum quality this year.”

Free tickets are available for local people wanting to attend the Radio 4 broadcast at the George on Wednesday on a first come first served basis.

To apply for free tickets email bbcradiofoodrecording@somethinelse.com.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Doors will be open at 6.30pm, and the recording kicks off at 7.30pm, though we’re asking our audience to arrive by 7pm at the latest, as there’s a simple survey we’ll be asking you to fill out when you arrive, which goes on to form part of the show.”

To find out more about the festival visit www.ryebayscallops.org.uk.