With Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival now one of the most popular events in the calender, managing director Nick Mosley explains why it has an increasing international focus.

I’m often asked why it has such a focus on international chefs and cuisine. Surely a local food festival should be all about local food and drink?

Well, of course, the food and drink industry of Sussex and the hospitality industry of Brighton and Hove are firmly at the heart of what we do. But whilst once championing ‘local’ in a public arena was new and exciting, we came to the conclusion a few years ago that we were preaching that message in Brighton to the already converted.

Fifteen years ago when we were founded, local food wasn’t on the menus of restaurants in the city. Outside of traditional farming, craft production in Sussex was also in its infancy. The Sussex wine industry had yet to boom, and craft brewing, cheese making, spirit distillation was almost non-existent Local food just wasn’t sexy.

So we did our part in putting Sussex on the map through food events and public relations activity both in our region but also nationally. It’s something we still do but also something every other UK region with a major food festival organisation does too. You could say we’re in an informal battle to see who can create the biggest headlines and establish our own region as the number one artisan food producer in the UK.

Around four years ago, my colleague Andrew Kay invited a young chef from Maastricht to Brighton to prepare a Dutch themed dinner at Drakes. The head chef from Drakes then went to Hotel Beaumont in Limburg a few months later. International Chef Exchange was born, and from that tentative event a whole new energy came to the festival.

We thought, why not focus some of our energies in promoting Brighton and Sussex to an international audience? Since the recession of 2008, gastronomic tourism has grown exponentially.

Through International Chef Exchange we’ve worked across Europe and as far afield as the Caribbean and Canada. We’ve been on national TV and radio, on the front pages of newspapers, and at times taken over the Twittersphere of our host country. All the time promoting Brighton and Sussex.

We’ve also partnered with like-minded food festivals from Vancouver to Catania to promote our region. It means we’ve had Sicilian granita making on Hove Lawns, Swedish caviar at Curry Leaf Café, and acclaimed Canadian wines at Terre à Terre. And that gives you – our local market – something unique and authentic to try, that otherwise would only be accessible by travelling abroad.

In the forthcoming food festival in August, we’ve two chef exchanges to experience. On Thursday August 24, chef Craig Jones from Cap Maison in St Lucia will partner with Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees. The dinner will be hosted in the Dome Room of Brighton’s Hotel du Vin and guests can expect a true taste of the Caribbean. We also welcome Mark van Bemmel from the Netherlands for a partnership with Steven Edwards at Etch on August 30. For more information about the festival and events visit brightonfoodfestival.com.