We cannot wait to tell you who will be appearing at this year’s Bishop Auckland Food Festival. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to find out which celebrity guests we have lined up!


A hugely popular and influential figure on the UK culinary circuit, John Torode is best known as the straight-talking co-host and judge of fifteen seasons of BBC1’s MasterChef, Celebrity MasterChef and Junior MasterChef, as well as the presenter of A Cook Abroad: John Torode’s Argentina and The A to Z of TV Cooking for BBC2. He is also a regular guest chef on ITV’s This Morning and has co-hosted three series of John & Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen on Sunday mornings with his wife Lisa Faulkner.

John went back to his roots with a culinary road trip across Australia for his series John Torode’s Australia, which premiered in March 2014 and was the top performing show of the year on the Good Food channel. The series also aired on Watch from November 2014. Following on from this success, John returned to the Good Food channel in January 2016 with his Malaysian Adventure; a 10-part series exploring the vibrant and varied cuisine of Malaysia. 2017 saw John deliver two brand new ten-part series for Good Food; the first tapping in to the growing popularity of Korean food in John Torode’s Korean Food Tour (July 2017), followed by John Torode’s Asia (October 2017), which achieved the highest viewing figures for the channel since March 2013.

John has continued his ten-part cookery travel series with John Torode’s Middle East, airing on the Good Food channel in November 2018.

Australian by birth, John is credited as one of the main players in introducing Australasian food to the UK in the mid-1990s. In 1992 he joined the Conran Group, starting out at Pont de La Tour before becoming Sous Chef at Quaglino’s. In 1995, John became Head Chef for the launch of Mezzo in Soho; at the time one of Europe’s largest restaurants.

He opened Smiths of Smithfield in 2000. The four-floor Grade-II listed restaurant, private dining room and café, located in the heart of Smithfield Market, was a roaring success under his leadership and became a firm fixture on both the restaurant and bar scenes during his tenure. John’s second restaurant venture was another popular multi-storey operation, The Luxe, which opened at Spitalfields Market in 2009.

John is passionate about sourcing the best of British produce, particularly within the meat industry, where he has long been a champion of rare breeds. In his quest to source the very best produce whilst at Smiths, he built strong relationships with many small farmers & butchers throughout the UK and aimed to share his knowledge through his widely distributed “Fine Meat List”. John’s third cookbook, namely John Torode’s ‘Beef’ and other bovine matters not only gives us every which way to cook with beef but also gives the history and importance of great and rare breeds, butcher’s recommended cuts and true head to tail eating. The follow-up book, John Torode’s Chicken and Other Birds needs no explanation!

John became a familiar face to TV audiences back in 1996 as the resident chef on ITV’s This Morning with Richard and Judy; a role in which he continued for four years. Since 2004 John has paired up with Gregg Wallace, handing out feedback, criticism and support to hundreds of hopefuls aiming to be crowned MasterChef (or indeed Celebrity MasterChef) and is also the judge and co-host of CBBC’s Junior MasterChef. In 2011 John & Gregg also teamed up to guest host Have I Got News For You for BBC1. They are the first ever duo to co-host the satirical current affairs quiz.

He has championed British beef and Aylesbury duck in the Great British Food Revival, judged bake-offs for the Blue Peter appeal, appeared as an expert panellist on The Apprentice: You’re Fired, is a frequent guest chef and host on Saturday Kitchen and a popular guest on shows such as The One Show, Loose Women, BBC Breakfast, Daybreak, Ask Rhod Gilbert and The Alan Titchmarsh Show as well as numerous radio programmes. He has also read Bedtime Stories on the CBeebies channel and appeared in spin-off editions of MasterChef for Comic Relief and Children in Need. John has travelled internationally to promote his books and appeared on the hit US show Today for NBC and been a guest judge in three seasons of MasterChef Australia.

John’s TV programmes regularly attract a huge audience. Indeed MasterChef’s popularity has placed John & Gregg on the front cover of several magazines including the Radio Times and spawned several cookbooks to date (including The MasterChef Cookbook, MasterChef At Home, MasterChef Kitchen Bible, MasterChef EveryDay & MasterChef Cookery Course). Sainsbury’s Magazine readers even voted MasterChef as the Top TV Food Show of the Decade and it has been included in the Top Ten list of the most Sky Plussed shows of the year. John has also been a hit on Good Food (formerly UKTV Food). He teamed up with comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli for a 10-part series exploring the diverse culinary communities of multicultural Britain. New British Kitchen — Torode and Hardeep’s Tour aired in May 2008 on UKTV Food. Within the first week the show was already proving a real success, overtaking the rest of the channel’s ratings.

A well-known food writer, John regularly contributes to Olive and BBC Good Food magazines, as well as Radio Times and Red magazine and has supplied numerous articles for the Guardian, Daily Mail and Observer newspapers.

John is a very popular choice for corporate events, including culinary demonstrations, informative talks and Q&A sessions. He was a member of the judging panel for the Glenfiddich Food & Drink Awards and appears at numerous food festivals each year. He is a sought-after name to be associated with high-end brands.

John’s recent cookbooks include the bestselling My Kind Of Food: Recipes I Love to Cook at Home (2015) and his brand new book John Torode’s Sydney To Seoul: Recipes From My Travels In Australia And The Far East, which was published on 31st May 2018.

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Irini Tzortzoglou is the wonderfully charming winner of MasterChef 2019.  Throughout the competition she successfully used a variety of traditional Greek ingredients in dishes which consistently impressed the judges as well as guest chefs such as Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux Jr.  In the competition final, her take on classic Greek dishes which she elevated to a new level in her uniquely playful style won over judges, John Torode & Gregg Wallace and she was crowned the popular winner.

Since winning MasterChef, Irini is thrilled to be writing her first book which will be published by Headline in July 2020. Irini’s debut cookbook, Under the Oliver Tree: Recipes from my Greek Kitchen is filled with Irini’s signature dishes that range from everyday meals for the home cook, or special creations for entertaining. As well as her recipes, Irini divulges her top tips and tricks for those moments when you have a little more time or want to impress. Under the Olive Tree can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Irini was born in a small village on the island of Crete and was the youngest of three.  Her early memories of life are of scarcity of luxuries but an abundance of fresh, home-cooked food in a loving home full of people. Treats were rare and usually home-made, delicious and created with produce the family grew, were given or sourced. Being raised in a culturally mixed environment – Irini’s mother originated from Crete and her father from Anatolia – Irini was blessed with different but equally valuable life lessons and principles. Hospitality, responsibility and pride on one side and humility, appreciation and a zest for life on the other.  

When she was 20, Irini started working in her uncle’s hotel in Crete where she met her first husband who was English, and they moved to London in 1980.  Whilst working for the National Greek Bank of Greece she studied for professional qualifications, and later completed a History of Art Degree.  Her artistic flair was reflected in the way in which her Masterchef-winning dishes were presented.

In 2010, Irini moved to the small village of Cartmel in Cumbria with her now husband, John, where life could not be more different to London. Cartmel is similar to Crete, in that there is great appreciation of food, cooking and entertainment. The focus is on quality and freshness of produce – themes reminiscent of Irini’s upbringing.

In 2018 Irini decided to enter MasterChef, driven by the hope to inspire both old and young (such as her grandchildren).  She loved every single minute of the competition, including those of fear, anxiety, pressure and the occasional personal disappointment although these were greatly outweighed by the sense of achievement and the joy of having her food appreciated by others.  Greek food has always had its fans amongst the millions who have visited the country over the years with appealing strong flavours, the freshness of the ingredients and the simplicity of their preparation.  Irini firmly agrees that the ingredients are king and respects the traditional methods of their treatment, but she has developed a much more refined approach and style of presentation.

Irini currently works with potters in both Crete and the UK creating dishes inspired by Minoan pottery and with graphic designers on the creation of fabrics inspired by Greek plant life.   She is very involved in the local community – belonging to the Cartmel in Bloom group and Cartmel Village Society.

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As a proud Yorkshireman with Italian heritage, Joe Hurd’s interests in cooking were inspired by these influences from day one. Joe’s cooking style is unfussy, accessible and always about the flavour, and he’s passionate about sharing his knowledge of traditional Italian recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques with home cooks. As a chef, Joe has worked alongside Jamie Oliver, Gennaro Contaldo and the late, great Antonio Carluccio. Joe is also a regular guest presenter on BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen, ITV’s Munch Box and on stage at festivals and events across the UK.


Alice is a Geography teacher from London with a passion for baking, education, fashion, lifestyle and the arts. As a keen explorer, Alice loves to travel and spend the school holidays sampling different cultures and cuisines. 

Alice had corrective spinal surgery for scoliosis when she was 15 which quickly put an end to her sporting dreams, but rather than letting this dampen her sports, it fuelled her love for art and baking as she spent hours in the kitchen instead of on the running track. 

Getting to the final of The Great British Bake Off 2019 was an amazing experience and something she is incredibly proud of. Alice was known for her enthusiasm and artistic bakes where she again merged her love of creativity with baking. 

Looking to the future, she would love to continue working with children and young people as well as combining her passion for education with baking. Alongside this, she is keen to explore her love of fashion, beauty, interiors and the arts. 


Jane was a finalist on The Great British Bake Off in 2016 and winner of the Christmas special in 2018.  She has been a garden designer for many years but since Bake Off has been spending more and more time appearing  at food festivals and hosting baking classes.  In 2018 she moved out of London to Faversham in the glorious Kent  countryside and now plans to hang up her spade and open a new cookery school in the spring of 2020.  For more information see www.janeskitchenkent.com

Jane will deliver the following workshops in Bishop Auckland Town Hall on both the Saturday and Sunday:

  • Children’s cupcake decorating, 10.30am. Tickets cost £5 and the class is suitable for youngsters aged five to 12, who must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Bread making – focaccia, 11.45am. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £5 for children under 14. The class is suitable for children over the age of ten and youngsters under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Adult cupcake decorating, 1.30pm. Tickets cost £8 and the class is suitable for people aged 16 and over. 
  • Breadmaking – chocolate swirl buns, 3pm. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £5 for children under 14. The class is suitable for children over the age of ten and youngsters under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Booking is strongly advised as limited tickets are available for each session. Tickets will be sold on a first come first served basis.

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