Were you lucky enough to catch this morning’s edition of Saturday Kitchen Cabinet on BBC Radio Four? The culinary panel show was broadcast from and devoted to Rye, and the town’s history and up-coming scallop festival were on the menu.

The programme, which also featured a foodie questions and answers session with members of the public was entertaining as always. But it also had the odd interesting factual surprise in store.

Radio 4’s Jay Rayner

The host, Jay Rayner, writer, broadcaster, and food critic described the town (accurately) as “drop dead gorgeous”. He also said it was the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Go to Smuggler’s Top. Now that’s something that was news to Your East Sussex.

Questions to panel members from local residents from Rye, Brighton and Hastings were punctuated by snippets of fact about the town. These included the history of smuggling, the infamous Hawkhurst Gang, the role of the Mermaid Inn, and how tea was once the most lucrative contraband.

Perhaps quite obviously, we also learned that Rye Bread has nothing to do with Rye.  That didn’t stop the show devoting a section to different Rye Bread recipes, however.


In the half-hour programme we learnt that while the majority of us, in fact all of those in the audience, pronounce scallop as “scollop”, it is more often spoken with the “a” as in “cat”. The audience seemed unconvinced of this, of course, as was this Your East Sussex listener.

Foodie features on mussels, tea, and interviews with several local fishing and food industry folk followed. Then the programme moved to its main focus – the Rye Bay Scallop Week which starts on February 22.


Scallop recipes from panel members whet the appetites of the audience and festival organisers got the chance to plug some of the events coming up at the end of the month. It was a fine showcase for a lovely town and its wonderful celebration of scallops. Thank you Rye, you did East Sussex proud!

If you missed the show and want to listen to it visit BBC Radio 4 Saturday Kitchen Cabinet. If you want to know more about the Rye Bay Scallop Week and all the events it entails, visit Rye Bay Scallop Week 2020