Published: 00:01, 17 October 2016
The Old Fire Station in Tonbridge is proof that talent and good food are always a winning recipe.
However, when the foodie fire station was created by refurbishing the building in Castle Street, Tonbridge, it was only expected to open for a few weeks. This month it celebrates its first anniversary.
Sam Goode, who launched it with business partner Richard Collins, said: “We were only going to do it for three months and have a bit of fun with it, but it has totally exceeded our expectations.
“We started out thinking it would go for a while, but once you get one good name, others want to follow. People will phone me to do an event – very rarely are we going after chefs. And we’ve done it all in under a year.”
Big names from the food world have staged pop-ups. Graham Garrett, who has just retained his Michelin star at the West House in Biddenden, recently held a night with music – a nod to his days as a pop star.
Great British Bake Off’s Mat Riley ticked all the boxes, as a firefighter, for his nights, which were also sell-outs. There have been evenings with up to 10 courses and top chefs from London, such as Alex Bailey and Scott Davies, regularly stage evenings.
Justin Brown, who appeared on MasterChef The Professionals and founded The Chippy in Amsterdam, stages his pop-up Amsterdam to Tonbridge at the station on Friday, November 18 and Saturday, November 19.
There have also been cheese tastings, nights matching teas with food, cider festivals and pizza nights.
The fire station has even had its own cider, brewed with Turners Cider from Marden, called TOFS.
Sam said: “Every chef has been different. They have different food styles and their own way of doing things. We are getting quite a lot of people coming down from London.
“The level of food that you are putting out there, some people just book it up pretty much straight away. It means you don’t have to go in to London for top quality food.
“More and more chefs know of us and they all want to get involved. It is quite a fun thing for them. And for diners, they get to see the chef cook the food.”
Chapel Down Winery from Tenterden will be there from Monday, November 28 to Sunday, December 4.
There will be big celebrations for the first anniversary, which are being kept under wraps.
To win tickets to Justin Brown's sell-out night, enter our competition here.
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