International flavour for Gatwick Food Fest

Chef Hamza Harrak
Chef Hamza Harrak

The Gatwick International Food Festival is set to have a truly multicultural flavour, with respected chefs due to take part.

The food festival will run from 11am to 7pm at Cherry Lane playing fields on September 2. There will be food demos, cook-offs, artisan traders, and a kids’ zone. Entry is free.

Farah Dhiya

Farah Dhiya

Organisers are looking for sponsors and stallholders - anyone who is able to help out can contact: or call 07902 331000.

Malaysian chef and entrepreneur Farah Dhiya, American-Sri Lankan chef and author Jessica Heath, and steak house maestro Hamza Harrak will be joining the line-up.

Farah Dhiya, Cordon Bleu chef and CEO of Upeh, will demonstrate how to cook their signature Perchik chicken - a traditional Malaysian dish.

As well as setting out to inspire women in business, Farah wants to bring Malay cuisine into the international arena, while preserving the authentic charm of the traditional dishes.

Jessica Heath with Sri Lankan chef and TV presenter Dharshan Munidasa

Jessica Heath with Sri Lankan chef and TV presenter Dharshan Munidasa

Jessica Heath is the author of ‘Ceylove: From Sri Lanka With Spice’, a celebration of Sri Lanka’s culture and cuisine.

Jessica Heath says she became interested in the cooking traditions of her mother’s homeland at a young age, captivated by the aromas created when her mother and grandmother were cooking.

She set out to learn the art of traditional Sri Lankan cookery, setting her on a path to TV stardom on MasterChef USA, and recognition as a global ambassador for Sri Lanka.

Chef Hamza Harrak was a Soho restaurateur for many years, and now runs HS&Co, the largest steak restaurant in the East End.

After qualifying from Westminster Kingsway College, he worked in Soho for a year before going travelling in the US and Morocco.

Returning to the UK, he worked in a Moroccan/Lebanese restaurant in Soho. Four years later, he opened his first premises - a five storey restaurant in Soho, serving traditional and modern Spanish and Moroccan cuisine.

After three years, he took over his former workplace.

A statement from the food festival organisers said: “Now owning two restaurants in the heart of central London he started to expand. He opened his second branch of El Cantara (Spanish Moroccan restaurant) in the newly opened Westfield Stratford in 2012. Later that same year he opened a Moroccan and Lebanese food counter in Harrod’s Food Hall. After 16 years in the centre of London with all of the late nights and everything involved, it was becoming a morale burden.

“He decided to sell all and create a new brand that had been growing in his mind for a long time. That was to be HS&Co, the high end Halal Steakhouse, bringing to the Halal market a taste of the quality and restaurant ambiance Chef Hamza Harrak had been accustomed to in the non-Halal sector.

“With HS&Co. came the Great British Halal Chef. His style of cooking as the Great British Halal Chef encompasses his history, background, style and personality. A mix of the British and Moroccan heritage, having grown up in predominately English areas, studying classically chef cuisine and working in leading restaurants has all produced a unique brand.

“He has done many TV programs, live and recorded, and has been on TV with Marco Pierre White and Jamie Oliver. He has done several live cooking demos at all of the major Halal festivals and events. He has reached 3,500 followers in his first two months on Instagram, and growing every day.

“He is about to launch his YouTube channel soon and has a travel/cooking show for the Halal market will be released next year. In his latest chapter of his life The Great British Halal Chef has only just started to show the Muslim population what are the possibilities of the Halal Market, bringing new foods and new styles to replace the mundane Halal food industry.”