“IT’S a bit of an excuse for us to have a bit of a party that 18,000 people are invited along to.”

While it wouldn’t be fair to describe Pub in the Park as any old party, the celebrity chef behind the premise concedes that the event is a good opportunity for him to catch up with old friends.

Therein lies the appeal for Tom Kerridge, the renowned chef with the amiable smile and distinctly west-country accent.

Sitting upstairs in The Botanist in King Street, he speaks passionately about the happy, community feel that makes the event so special to him.

Initially designed as a 10th birthday celebration for his pub the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Pub in the Park arrived – two years later than planned – as a whole lot more than that when it ran as a one-off in the Buckinghamshire town last summer.

“It was such an amazing, incredible event,” Tom says. “We had 18,000 tickets sold in 24 hours – the moment they were released it went bananas.

“People loved the idea of nationally, even internationally-acclaimed chefs turning up at somewhere that felt like your back garden, with brilliant music and a great food festival vibe.

“There is more to it than that – it’s a community space. It encapsulated everything that’s great about British food and British chefs and the British pub scene.

“It would have been very east to take it to Manchester or to Liverpool, but we want that feel and we want people to take ownership.”

The event combines pop-up gourmet pub food with a festival atmosphere of music and drinks, and its success last year will see it roll out to three new towns this year. Knutsford is the last of four events, with a weekend on The Heath planned for September.

“We wanted to expand it but not lose that heart and soul,” Tom said of the new format, which will see the event head out ‘on tour’.

“It felt very special. Marlow is a beautiful town with gorgeous buildings and a fantastic community and family-led space.

“We wanted places with a similar sort of vibe and the same outlook on life and food, and generally will have that same warm approach to a great festival, which feels like a national event but it’s a lovely local space.

“Knutsford ticked all of those boxes.”

Local producers from farmers to brewers will rub shoulders with Michelin-starred chefs, all to a soundtrack featuring chart-toppers and even a former Spice Girl.

Meanwhile, Great British Bake Off winner will be at the Church Inn in Mobberley as part of the Cheshire Cat pub group’s involvement.

For those with tickets to the five timed events – split into afternoon and evening sessions – there will be the chance to sample food cooked by Tom and co., and even to bend their ears about their work.

One of the chefs taking part, James Mackenzie, runs the Pipe and Glass in Yorkshire and was involved in last year’s inaugural Marlow event. For him, the event brings an opportunity for venues across the country to showcase their work to new audiences.

“What we do day-to-day is showcase wonderful food from our area from the north and indeed our whole area,” he said.

“It’s good to showcase our pubs, the food we are making, and bring that to a wider audience.

“People will have read about and seen certain chefs from different places, and will be able to sample what they are doing day-to-day.”

But no chef will be more in demand in September than Tom himself.

The face of shows such as Lose Weight For Good – having himself lost 12 stone in just three years – his Hand & Flowers pub became the first to hold two Michelin stars back in 2012.

With his new foodies’ festival venture taking flight across the UK, he hopes it could become a staple in Knutsford’s famous events calendar.

“If it proves to be a success and the people of Knutsford love it and think it was a wonderful event to be a part of, we would love to come back.

“There are supposed to feel like national events but on a really small scale.”

  • Tickets go on sale on Friday at 10am. Visit pubintheparkuk.com