A PROGRAMME full of tasty treats, delicious dishes and clever cooks is on the menu as Sunderland Food and Drink Fest this week.

The festival, organised by Sunderland BID and Sunderland City Council, starts its virtual events today (June 1) and they will continue throughout the month.

Celebrity chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli, Rustie Lee and Alice Fevronia will join more than 50 local businesses taking part.

There will be sessions from School Meals and Change 4 Life and events aimed at younger viewers.

Sunderland-based Fat Loss Feast’s Joe Sexton, who is a personal trainer and also streams healthy cooking videos, will make a nutritious alternative to a fry up breakfast and little ones can join in the fun with a DIY flatbread demo from Big Science UK.

TV chef Rustie Lee in action twice at the weekend, with demos on her Caribbean corned beef and rice or chicken in pineapple, and Nedhi Chera, of The Funky Indian Wali, will also be creating some authentic Indian vegetarian dishes.

CBBC Gastronut’s Stefan Gates will teach children about the science behind their favourite sweets and there will be a demo on creating edible slime and a range of crafting tutorials with Katie’s Garden.

Other local businesses taking part across the festival include The Ivy House, Blackberries Patisserie, Undisclosed, Fausto Coffee, Maxim Brewery and Spent Grain.

Sharon Appleby, chief executive at Sunderland BID, is delighted to be shining a spotlight on home grown talent alongside TV chefs.

She said: “There is a really exciting food and drink scene in Sunderland and events like this are an excellent way for people to show their support.

“We have an incredibly talented line up, with a wide range of demonstrations over the month, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for any budding chefs to perfect their skills in the kitchen or try something completely new.

“We hope the city’s foodies will take advantage of the huge wealth of knowledge and experience being broadcast across the month and we’re proud to offer something for all ages to enjoy.”

Councillor Linda Williams, Cabinet Member for Vibrant City, at Sunderland City Council, said: “This promises to be a fantastic event, with something for everyone whether you’re a complete novice in the kitchen or a budding chef. It’s brilliant to see some of our local businesses taking part too.”

For details visit sunderlandfooddrinkfest.co.uk/ and virtual events will be streamed at facebook.com/sundfooddrinkfest/

For further information on the festival, visit sunderlandfooddrinkfest.co.uk/