Foodival is Transition Town Tooting's annual food festival, celebrating everything that's good about locally grown food. Foodival aims to show how it's possible to grow local, eat local, be sustainable and have fun while doing it!

Top Tooting Cook Judges 2014

Kate Allan is a prominent member of the local community and has lived in Tooting Bec or Earlsfield for nearly 40 years, and loves it! She's much involved in BATCA (the Balham and Tooting Community Association), which is a network of faith bodies, businesses, and the voluntary and public service sectors concerned with cohesion and wellbeing in our local community. It organises Fun Days, faith walks, local heroes awards and sporting events, and Kate has learnt skills ranging from getting alongside local press and politicians to shifting tables - with a good dollop of beg , borrow and steal thrown in! In her working life, Kate was a civil servant in the Dept for Business, Innovation and Skills. Other voluntary work includes mental health and being a churchwarden. She loves theatre, opera and travel.

Chris (aka Mr NappyValleyNet) runs the European operations for a Chinese mobile company. As a result he's lucky enough to travel extensively through work and so far in 2014 has eaten in Beijing, Singapore, New York and Middlesbrough. As the father of two reasonably pleasant children he also believes that food is wonderful both for uniting children and also for escaping from them, when a tolerant babysitter can be found. Culinary high and lowlights this year include garlic bread fingers with a parmesan cheese sauce in the States (soaring high), boiled translucent duck feet in China (crushing low) and roast chicken with frites and rocket salad in Tooting (scrummy high). As a northerner who came to London over 25 years ago, the sheer range of food now on offer in our little part of London is what excites him most about this competition. "I adore all food and cannot believe how fortunate we are to have the best Thai, Indian, French, English and American restaurants right on our doorsteps. Much as I love eating abroad, deciding whether to go to Brinkleys, The Chicken Shop, Tota or Masaledar is one of my favourite life dilemmas".

Manisha Patel is described by Pooja owner Mrs Salim as “one of the four pillars of Pooja” (she is on the far right in the picture).  Born in Nariad near Ahmedabad, Gujurat in western India, Manisha came to the UK in 1997 and has been working at Pooja, Tooting’s premier destination for sweets, savouries and delicious vegetarian food, ever since.  In India she studied law and worked in accounting, but now she puts all her energy into food.  A familiar face around Tooting, Manisha is a cooking perfectionist who tastes every item produced at Pooja to ensure it’s as fresh and delicious as it can possibly be.  “If you give people quality they will come back, if not they’ll go elsewhere,” is her philosophy. Manisha has helped produce dishes from donated produce for Foodival since 2009 and loves meeting people and taking on challenges of all kinds.  Being a judge for the Top Tooting Cook competition at this year’s Foodival is just the latest!

Rick Gibbs, restaurateur, chef and passionate art collector 
has been living in Tooting since 1991. Before he opened his own restaurant, Rick had been Head Chef at the Chelsea Arts Club for over a decade, and has been renowned for his love and knowledge of Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. In 2001 he opened Rick's Cafe in Tooting, now more appropriately named Rick's Restaurant.

Rick is completely in love with fishing, although 'not really good at it', as he likes to admit. He loves 70s rock music, enjoys wake boarding and walks along the pond in Tooting Bec Common. He is a great admirer of the Tooting Gala Bingo/Granada Tooting Cinema building and a passionate art collector. (The other day he headed towards the butcher's with 300 quid in his pocket to pay for his services but, on the way, he happened to run into this marvelous art piece and ended up not going to the butcher's that day after all.)

Last but not least, Rick is one of the food pioneers, having long believed in supporting small domestic food producers both in the UK and abroad.

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