It's almost a year since the Ryedale Free Fridge launched at The Wesley Centre and it's now become an important resource for the town as well as being a social hub that together fits well with Malton's Food Capital status.

It’s also ten years since Malton set out on the road to become Yorkshire’s self-styled “food capital” – a term coined, ironically, by an Italian – the late Antonio Carluccio. Tom Naylor-Leyland, whose family own half of Malton, has helped mastermind the town’s reinvention. It was during a visit to London’s Borough Market when he noticed how much Yorkshire produce – everything from Whitby crab to rare breed pork – was on sale, that he had his eureka moment. “The idea seemed simple to me – promote Yorkshire food in Yorkshire.”

The seeds were sown with the annual Food Lovers Festival, which returns later this month with guests including acclaimed chefs Tommy Banks, from The Black Swan, and Sabrina Ghayour. Back in 2009 there were 25 stalls and just over a thousand visitors, compared to this year’s two-day event which is expected to attract 30,000 people.

This was followed by the creation of the monthly food market (second Saturday in every month). “We realised that our job isn’t to just create one food festival, we had to be able to get people to come here on a wet Wednesday in February,” he says.

Calling the town “Yorkshire’s food capital” and creating Malton Cookery School were further pieces in the jigsaw. Arguably the biggest challenge, though, was making Malton the kind of place you want to visit any day of the week, especially in the face of growing pressure from online retailers and the well-documented decline of our high streets. “After five or six years we asked food producers not just to open a shop here but to make their products in the town, because we wanted people to enjoy an experience. We wanted places people could visit on a small, artisan scale.”