South Street Bonfire Society kicked off celebrations for its centenary year by raising a glass of Harveys’ Bonfire Boy ale with judge Tom Parker Bowles this week on ITV’s home recipe show, Food Glorious Food.
The Society was founded 100 years ago to participate in Lewes’ annual Bonfire celebrations. It was originally a Juvenile Society, but is now open to members of all ages and retains its family-friendly focus.
The Society entered its recipe, Bonfire Stew with Cannonball Dumplings, into the South East heat of the cookery show, which was filmed in Brighton last summer. It was one of the hottest days of the year so an uncomfortable one for the members who turned up in their smugglers’ Guernseys.
The recipe, with its roots shrouded in Bonfire folklore, was cooked up in its modern incarnation at Society Headquarters, The Snowdrop Inn in South Street, and presented to judge Tom Parker Bowles by landlord Tony Leonard and a deputation of South Street Bonfire Society members.
The stew is made from Southdown mutton slowly cooked in Harveys’ Bonfire Boy ale, topped with crusty dumplings with sage and oak-smoked Duddleswell sheeps’ cheese from local cheesemaker, High Weald Dairy.
The programme was aired on Wednesday evening. South Street’s dish won the first round – and a rosette – but then got beaten by a blancmange in the second.
However, the recipe has earned its coveted place in the accompanying recipe book to the TV series.
“Tom is certainly no stranger to Lewes,” revealed Tony Leonard at The Snowdrop. “He’s a big fan of Harveys ales and he told us that he often came to Lewes Bonfire with his grandparents as a child.”
Food Glorious Food, the official book to accompany the TV series, is published by Mitchell Beazley.
The society is staging a Night At The Races on April 20. Accompanied by a fish supper, the course is Lewes Town Hall and the action gets under way at 7.30pm.