Chester: Food and Drink Guide
With more than 2,000 years of history, Chester is a blend of classical and contemporary influences. The picturesque city centre boasts Roman walls, remnants of its garrison town roots. The market town is also home to world class shopping and dining, helping to make it a top tourism destination in England's North West. Chester and the surrounding region also have a rich culinary tradition, being the home of Cheshire cheese and award-wining restaurants. Whether you are looking for homemade fish and ships at a cosy pub or fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, Chester offers a full range of options with local produce and charm.
Chester's Food Heritage
Agriculture and food production has been an important industry in Chester and Cheshire for centuries, particularly dairy farming and cheese making. The area that is now known as Cheshire has seen farming since the early Neolithic period. The Domesday Survey in 1086 documented mixed subsistence farming in Cheshire, with main crops in the area being wheat, barley, oats and peas. Livestock including cattle, pigs and sheep have also been a mainstay in and around Cheshire for centuries, with beef being exported from the country as early as the early fourteenth century.
Although cheese making was already established in Cheshire since at least the Roman period, it was during the early seventeenth century that its high quality became recognised. Cheshire cheese became one of the most popular products of its kind in England during the nineteenth century. Britain's oldest named cheese is just one of several local creations that have found popularity outside of Cheshire. Others include Mornflake, a producer of oat and oat-based cereals that has been milling oats in Cheshire since 1675.
Food and Drink Events in Cheshire
With high quality local produce, it is little wonder that Chester is known for celebrating and promoting food and drink from across Cheshire. The annual Chester Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival is held during Easter weekend. Held at the Chester Racecourse, the festival attracts local and celebrity chefs as well as some 30,000 people. It features demonstrations and workshops for children over the course of three days, making it the largest event of its kind in the UK at Easter. Outside of Chester, Cheshire is also the home of the Congleton Food Festival in June, the Nantwich Food and Drink Festival and Cheshire Food Festival in September, and the North West Food Lovers Festival at Tatton Park in Knutsford during October. These family-friendly events celebrate local produce, food and drink with traders showcasing their delicious creations and ingredients.
Local produce is available at several markets throughout the year in Chester, including a regular market at Chester Market Hall. Open Monday to Saturday, the market has over 50 stalls with local producers selling of goods from jams and honey to fresh fruits and vegetables. Steps from the Market Hall is elegant Chester Town Hall, which hosts the outdoor Taste Cheshire Farmers Market every third Saturday of the month. The farmers market showcases local produce and products from across Cheshire. A similar event is also held on every second Friday of the month at the Grosvenor Garden Centre in Chester.