AN ACCLAIMED food writer who has won national recognition for his innovative support for cancer sufferers will be sharing his expertise on the opening day of the first Sunderland city Food and Drink Festival.
And for Ryan Riley it means a return to his roots, following the opening of his first Life Kitchen base in Sunderland.
Ryan, who has worked for a range of national food magazines, realised while his mum, Krista, was undergoing chemotherapy treatment five years ago, what an impact it had on the sufferer’s ability to taste.
After Krista sadly passed away Ryan decided he wanted to do something to help other people in that situation – and Life Kitchen was born.
His initial plan was to offer free cookery classes to people living with the disease, creating dishes that would incorporate flavour and excitement into their food.
His scheme attracted so much attention – including from television personalities such as Sue Perkins and Nigella Lawson – that he was soon running classes across the country.
And now he is returning to his home city, where he will be running two sessions on the opening day of the festival on 21 June.
Ryan has also chosen to make Sunderland the first permanent base for Life Kitchen and has taken over the former Mowbray Park Lodge which will also open next month.
“As a multi award-winning organisation that provides free cookery classes for people living with cancer focused on taste and flavour, I am delighted to be part of the Sunderland Food and Drink Festival,” said Ryan.
“Cooking enjoyable and delicious food is at the core of everything we do so the chance to be able to share with my hometown is wonderful. I’m hugely looking forward to the day.”
Ryan’s one-hour sessions will be at noon and 3pm in the marquee at Keel Square and are free to take part.
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID, which is organising the festival in conjunction with Sunderland City Council, is delighted that Ryan is taking part.
“Ryan’s amazing enterprise has been celebrated around the country and quite rightly so,” she said.
“There are so many people affected by this terrible disease and he is doing something incredible, helping people undergoing treatment to be able to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures – food.
“He’s a fantastic ambassador for the city and it’s brilliant to have him back on home ground and taking part in the festival.”
Cllr John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Culture for Sunderland City Council echoed her comment.
“The Sunderland Food and Drink Festival is a great new addition to our award-winning event programme, and it’s fantastic that it can be used to showcase some local talent,” he said.
“The Life Kitchen is an inspiring project, improving the lives of many people, and we’re delighted to welcome Ryan and his team back to the city.”
Ryan’s sessions are part of a whole programme of events taking place across the city centre from 21 – 23 June.
It includes appearances by celebrity chefs Jean Christophe Novelli, Dean Edwards and Cbeebies favourite, Katy Ashworth, street food and continental markets, local chef demonstrations, street entertainment and a whole host of other events.
The full programme is available at https://www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/sundfoodfest