WHEN you are out and about enjoying what a town or city has to offer then top quality food prepared ready to go is often the best choice.
This is probably the key behind the rise of street food which is becoming ever more popular across the country.
Tastes of the world are brought together in a dish that can be taken away and enjoyed whilst wandering back streets of towns, music and of course food festivals.
This laid back approach to dining is being well and truly catered for in the shape of a number of food producers cooking up all manner of treats from across the globe.
Leading the way in Essex is Tom Haward whose knowledge of oysters and seafood has been put to optimum use in his career as a chef.
Most recently the Mersea Island native has been plying his trade with his bespoke pop-up restaurant Tom's Salty Shack.
The hand-made kitchen and surrounding eating areas, which allow guests to gather around and watch him create his dishes there and then, were created especially for Tom who is a seventh generation Mersea Oysterman.
He has spent a number of years working in the renowned Company Shed and Richard Haward Oysters run by his family and he uses this expertise in his new business which has already been booked up to a number of food festivals in the coming year.
Tom launched the shack on Packing Shed Island, off Mersea itself, in September with live music and even fireworks as well as the chance to taste some of the ethically sourced seafood and gourmet dishes including his home-smoked salmon, fresh cooked scallops and lobster.
Tom says: “The kitchen has been designed so we can use some or all of it.
“If we are at a festival and space is limited then we can just use a section of it with the grill behind but at a private venue we would be able to have it all.”
The travelling kitchen has preparation space and crucially allows diners to get up close and personal to Tom as he prepares the food. Prosecco and hand chosen wines are also on the menu, which, Tom says, are the perfect accompaniment to seafood.
Fresh oysters and lobster also form the basis of the menu, he explains.
“I really like cooking and I really like talking to people and it just seemed like the perfect way of combining those two things.
Tom is among a number of street chefs lining up to appear at the Essex Fine Food Festival which is taking up residence at Chellmsford City race Course on May 13 and 14.
Authentic Thai Food, based in Hornchurch, uses the best Asian ingredients in a bid to give food fans a real taste of Thailand including delicious curries and noodles.
And Harlow-based Occasion Catering cook up a huge batch of authentic chicken chorizo paella using traditional giant pans, in front of hungry customers.
Also attending the first Essex Fine Food Festival, and representing the rise of tasty food on the go will be El Dorado who dish up Mexican food using authentic ingredients they get straight from Smithfield Market in London.
The salsas and guacamole, burritos, tacos and nachos are all made on site - served up in generous portions.
Locally produced drink is also represented in the form of one of the biggest names in brewing Adnams.
It is planning to bring a number of its well-loved favourite brews including Ghost Ship which was inspired by one of the country's most haunted pubs, the Bell at Walberswick.
Festival spokeswoman Anne Pocock says it will perfectly complement the street food.
"It is well balanced with zesty citrus aromas and biscuit flavours.
"And it tastes great with spicy Thai or Indian food.
"In addition there will be Mosaic and Blackshore amongst others.
"For gin lovers, Adnams will be serving Copper House Gin by the glass with a garnish of orange peel and tonic water."
It is also possible to buy their bottled products, Both Barrels which is a barrel-aged broadside and its new Earl Grey Lager and rye gin, Rising Sun.
Drinkers who prefer their Earl Grey in a vintage cup will be able to enjoy a traditional brew thanks to the Old Fashioned Tea Company which will have the kettle on over the two day festival.
Around 100 artisan food and drink producers will be offering samples and the chance to buy and there will be demonstrations from Dean Edwards, the resident chef on ITV's the Lorraine show on the first day and series three winner of the Great British Bake-off John Whaite on the second.
They will be giving demonstrations on 11am, 1pm and 3pm on each of the days.
To book your advance tickets, advisable if you want to see the celebrity chefs, and to find out What's On throughout the weekend: visit.www.essexfinefoodshow.co.uk