Celebrity chef and star of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, Simon Rimmer, visited The New Forest as part of the inaugural Food & Drink Festival – and it was his first time at this beautiful destination too. The event was part of the Vegetarian Forest Feast theme and on offer was a veritable vegetarian banquet.

On arrival at The Barn at Burley Manor, guests were treated to a glass of Perrier-Jouët champagne, before settling down at their tables.

Simon introduced the evening and gave a 40 minute talk – about how he studied textiles and got into restaurants as a way to ‘chat up girls’, starting his celebrated veggie restaurant, Greens, with a friend in 1990 (which The Guardian newspaper subsequently described as ‘one of the most exciting restaurants in the UK’), his TV career and his life on Sunday Brunch with Tim Lovejoy.

Simon introduced each delicious course, talking passionately about the ingredients, methods used and the history behind them. Guests learnt all about complimentary and contrasting foods that make your palate pop, and his reasons for choosing each dish on this particular evening.

There was time for plenty of questions from the audience; Simon answering whether he really is the inventor of pulled pork and telling guests about future of his restaurant business – that it lies mostly in pubs.

Guests were given plenty of time to chat – and more importantly, take selfies – with Simon at the end of the evening too, taking away a signed copy of The Accidental Vegetarian.