Malton market leader reflects on foot-and-mouth as he prepares for food stalls to return

In the heart of the North Yorkshire market town of Malton next month, a little degree of normality will return.

Stalls will once again be erected to offer some of the leading produce on offer in the Ryedale district, as the town’s monthly food market is staged for the first time this year.

Malton itself has seen a renaissance in recent years, partly born out of the foot and mouth crisis from two decades ago.

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There is far greater awareness among consumers over the provenance of their food and drink, and Malton itself has capitalised on that desire to find the origins of produce.

Malton’s monthly food market, which will make its return a month today on March 13, is overseen by Tom Naylor-Leyland, who is also the organiser of the hugely successful Malton Food Lovers Festival.

The town lays claim to being the “food capital of Yorkshire”, a title that was first coined by Antonio Carluccio, the Italian chef and restaurateur who passed away in 2017.

Malton’s monthly food market, which will make its return a month today on March 13, is overseen by Tom Naylor-Leyland, who is also the organiser of the hugely successful Malton Food Lovers Festival.

Mr Naylor-Leyland said: “You do have terrible things that happen like the foot and mouth crisis, but ultimately some good does come out of it.

“There is now a real emphasis on what you are actually feeding your family, which has been a real bonus for us in Malton and for producers in the area around the town.

“It is about connecting people, and showing them how that produce arrives from farm to fork.”

Malton’s food festival was launched as a one-day event in 2009 with 25 stalls, which attracted a thousand visitors.

It has now been transformed into a three-day extravaganza of the region’s food and drink, and saw 40,000 people descend on the town when the festival was last staged in 2019 to sample the wares from 180 stalls.

The festival has attracted a host of major names in the culinary world including Tom Parker-Bowles, Prue Leith, John Christophe Novelli and Valentine Warner as well as leading Yorkshire chefs such as James Martin, Andrew Pern and James Mackenzie.

After last year’s event had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is hoped that the food festival will return at some point in 2021.

The success of the independent sector has seen the creation of the Talbot Yard Food Court, which lies across the road from the town’s Talbot Hotel.

Among the traders who have set up a permanent base in the food court are the Blue Bird Bakery, Master Patissier Florian Poirot’s enterprise creating macaroons, chocolates and desserts and Groovy Moo, which specialises in Italian gelato.

Mr Naylor-Leyland said: “The growth of these independent businesses has meant that Malton has become a really special place to live and work.

“In many ways it is perceived as a traditional market town, but alongside that there is a real vibrancy here.

“It shouldn’t be just the big cities who have a great food scene and a vibrant arts sector, as we have shown that is possible here.”

Tommy Banks, the Yorkshire-born Michelin star chef who owns The Black Swan at Oldstead, and Roots in York, was announced as the patron of the Malton Food Lovers Festival in 2019.