THE artisan food and drink phenomenon has become not just a way of life but a family affair for Daniel Maycock.

With 12 events up and down the country each year you would be forgiven for thinking the Great British Food Festival is run by a big management company.

But former Bridgewater High student Daniel and his brother Nick have been hosting the days out – which now attract a total of around 100,000 visitors between them – since 2011.

They are assisted in running the festivals by Daniel’s wife Janine and their dad Terry, who used to work for Auto Trader in Warrington, does the accounts while the only non-family member is event manager Verity Sharples.

Their 'office' is Terry's converted garage in Appleton and despite the number and scope of the events growing substantially it has always been that core team who have just celebrated the milestone of their 50th festival.

It all started when Daniel and Nick, who have a background in web design, went to a food festival in Chester in April 2011 and thought they could do better.

Daniel, a former Broomfields Junior School pupil, said: “We sort of wrote down this idea of what we could do and where we could do it. One thing led to another and we thought it was a good idea.”

Just six months later they held their nerve and hosted the first Great British Food Festival at Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington which attracted 4,500 visitors in two days.

Daniel added: “We went to Walton Gardens initially because I knew that place from when I was a kid. So it was a place we knew well and the team there were keen to get new people in as well.

“The first one was wet so we didn’t get quite so many people but I still use photos from the second one for PR because the field was rammed. It was unbelievable. We had people coming from as far as Birmingham. It was probably because it was the early days. Food festivals were just starting out really.”


Daniel admitted there was a huge learning curve though.

The 39-year-old said: “I remember there was a big queue to get in which we got some bad reviews online for. Traffic management was a big one. We didn’t realise how difficult it was to park 1,000 cars within an hour.

“We knew a lot of restaurants from the contacts we had so we did some chef demos with those guys.

“My mum was on the front desk. My wife’s dad was doing a chef demo. It was all family and friends at first

“The hot food guys had 15m queues all day. It probably wasn’t a great experience as a visitor, but we learnt a lot from that and went from there. We realised there was a demand for it. That was the big thing.”

Daniel and his family went from one festival in 2011 to two in 2012 and four the following year.

Now they have 12 events a year with some attracting up to 15,000 food lovers.

The next festival, which all have a stately home or historic building as a backdrop, is at Arley Hall at the weekend with more than 75 food producers, chef demos, man versus food challenges and a cake off.

Daniel added: “I do a drinks stage now where I do some tastings and we get some of the producers along. A lot of friends help us out still. We care about the events and I think that does come across.

“It’s not outsourced or run by some stewards that we don’t know. We just want it to be a fun foodie day out where everyone smiles at you.

“It’s harder now than it was at the beginning though. There’s a lot more to it.

“When we started there was literally two sheets of paper for the first event plan but now it’s a 100-page document. We have everything on there from fire and terror plans to traffic management.”

Around half the traders at each festival are Daniel’s regulars that travel with him to each show. The rest are usually made up of producers from the area they are visiting be it Floors Castle in south-east Scotland or Chiswick House and Gardens in London.

The dad-of-three said: “It keeps changing. Over the last few years we have more gluten free products and vegan and vegetarian food is a big factor.

“People are keen to try different things now. There is nothing wrong with trying a hog roast or a sausage if you have traditional tastes but what we try and do is have things like Vietnamese food. Something you wouldn’t cook at home

“There are an unbelievable amount of independent traders out there. I’m amazed at the number of people who tell me they bought a horsebox and converted it into something. We have something like 3,000 on our database in terms of hot food stalls and producer wise we are always looking for interesting things.

“Brownies, cheese, gin we have a lot of those stalls but anything unique I am always keen to have along. In Scotland Clootie dumplings was something I’d never seen before. It’s a bit like a Christmas pudding wrapped in this cloth and the producer did a gin and tonic one and a chocolate one.

“Going all over the place you do come across things you’ve never tried before. I’ve been on a mission to try all the brownies this year.”

The Great British Food Festival is at Arley Hall on Saturday and Sunday. Visit