CELEBRITY chef Simon Rimmer wowed visitors to Bolton’s “Mini Food Festival” — despite the demonstration being moved indoors to avoid Saturday's torrential downpours.

The 51-year-old co-presenter of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch is Bolton Market’s ambassador and he was there on Saturday to demonstrate how to make two dishes — tapas-style meatballs and a salmon salad — in front of scores of shoppers.

The mini food festival had originally been scheduled to take place in Victoria Square but — plans were changed on Friday after forecasters predicted a stormy Saturday.

Bolton chef Nick Cullen — the owner of two Nick’s Restaurants, in Chorley Old Road, Bolton, and at Chequerbent, Westhoughton — also carried out a cooking demonstration.

Street entertainers The Skiband, and two chefs on stilts added to the occasion, warming up what proved to be a big turnout, before Mr Rimmer entered the spotlight.

Keen runner Mr Rimmer was on crutches, following a cartilage operation, but he exchanged banter with dignitaries including Bolton deputy mayor Cllr Colin Shaw, Bolton Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris and chief executive Sean Harriss, during his demo.

Mr Rimmer said: “I was asked to get involved with Bolton Market two years ago, when I was told they wanted to change direction, and I was delighted.

“It’s early days and there is a lot of work to do, but my aim is to get rid of the old fashioned concept that it is not trendy to shop in market.

“We want to reduce the age of the people coming to shop in Bolton Market. We want people in the town to understand the quality of what’s available here.

“After all, the North West has the most agriculturally diverse offerings in Western Europe, and it shows when you come here.”

The mini festival also focused on the Market Place and Crompton Place, two of the town centre’s major shopping complexes.

Cllr Morris, meanwhile, hailed the concept of the mini festival and said it was an ideal precursor to the Bolton Food and Drink Festival which takes place from August 22 to 25.

“It is brilliant for the town,” he said. “The Market — as well as the Market Place and Crompton Place — have all been really proactive.

“We’ve had to bring things inside because of the poor weather, but it gives a sample of how it’s going to be during the food and drink festival in August. It’s going to be fantastic.”