Introducing Leeds Indie Food Festival


Us Leeds folk must have a thing for food-based crowdfunding campaigns. Earlier this year, we rallied together to turn the terrible vandalisation of Manjit’s Kitchen’s van into a positive; funding the transformation of a disused horsebox into the finest-looking Chaat Station in all the land. Reaching the £4000 target in just five days, Manjit’s Kitchen’s campaign was a heart-warming display of Leeds’ fierce loyalty to its independent food heroes – and our addiction to the life-changing creation that is Manjit’s Chapasty, obviously

Never underestimate the power of the a Manjit's Kitchen Chapasty

Never underestimate the power of a Manjit’s Kitchen Chapasty

Five months on, and we’ve done it again, this time raising £6750 in just ten days to make the first Leeds Indie Food Festival a reality. Dreamed up by Leeds Indie Food, a team of six stalwart Leeds food lovers, the festival promises to help nurture the independent community by putting on a collaborative, city-wide celebration of Leeds’ independent food and drink culture over two weeks in May 2015. YES, Leeds.

It’s things like this that make me so proud to live here. I know I’m always banging on and on (and on) about Leeds’ incredible independent spirit, but it’s because it’s so flipping fantastic. There’s a real breadth of talent and innovation across the city, harnessed by the willingness of independents to work with, not against, each other. Collaborations are springing up everywhere, from craft beer bars joining forces with Indian vegetarian restaurants, to breweries teaming up with pop-up food starlets. We’ve even got our own Leeds Food and Drink Association, an organisation founded to celebrate Leeds’ independent food and drink scene and make Leeds a city famous for its food and drink. This collaboration between independents is now so common that it’s as if it’s been woven into the very fabric of the city, creating a unique food and drink culture that makes Leeds a very special place to live.

But what I love most is not just the existence of  this culture, but the value that Leeds folk place on it. Times are hard and cash is tight for many of us, yet we’re still willing to shell out our hard-earned cash to support the talented folks behind Leeds’ indie businesses that make our city such a pleasure to live in.

Leeds Indie Food Festival is a very exciting prospect for Leeds, so I caught up with Lil Dix, food blogger at Whip Until Fluffy and one sixth of the Leeds Indie Food team, to find out more.

Leeds Indie Food logo

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Preview: Cornucopia Underground

This post originally featured on The Culture Vulture

Ten years ago, I arrived in Leeds. I was a young 18 year-old, hungry for my first taste of freedom in a city that had lured me with its promises of amazing student life. It didn’t let me down. Everything was new, exciting and unexplored, and I spent three years falling in love. I loved everything about Leeds: its cool cafés, laid-back BYO restaurants, big green spaces, and especially its cheap and cheesy clubs that seemed tailor-made for my 18-21 year-old self. I’ll leave exactly what clubs they were to your imagination, but let’s just say that when I left university, things soon changed. I changed.

I’d stayed in Leeds because I’d fallen in love, but the Leeds I thought I loved didn’t do it for me anymore. We were growing apart. Determined to make the relationship work, I spent the next few years getting to know Leeds all over again. I got to know its musical side, spending every spare penny I had on gig tickets for bands I’d barely heard of at venues with very questionable hygiene standards. I had a fling with its young professional side when I made the big mistake of working in recruitment; a snooty side filled with snooty bars frequented by snooty people in snooty suits. A job in the arts got me acquainted with its cultural side; a conveyor belt of gallery openings and preview nights attended by some of the most incredible people I’ve had the good fortune to meet – underpaid and overworked, but united by a genuine passion for the arts that the government seemed intent on destroying. I even had a brief encounter with Leeds’ eco side, after being so tormented by the sight of ducks bobbing in the syringe-filled river outside my city-centre flat that I donned a pair of marigolds, grabbed a rake and coerced my housemate and boyfriend into giving up their Saturday to clean up the ducks’ home with the Leeds Waterfront Association.

It’s fair to say that I’ve loved and experienced many different sides of Leeds over the last ten years. But the Leeds that has my heart now; the Leeds that I’m completely besotted with, is a side to the city that I’ve really got to know in the past few years. Leeds’ independent food and drink scene. It’s simple, really: proud, enterprising and unique independent businesses that work with, not against, each other, to make Leeds a bloody exciting place to live. It’s like the pairing of wine and food: when you get the pairing right, you improve the flavour of each individual element to create a taste sensation that’s better than you could have ever imagined. And this is what makes Leeds so special.This is why I’m more in love with Leeds than ever before. There are hundreds of examples of this independent collaboration right across the city’s food and drink industry, from the street food traders that collaborate to put on a massive feast each month at Belgrave Music Hall, to the perfect matrimony of The Sparrow’s craft beer and Prashad’s Indian vegetarian Street Food at the newly-opened Bundobust.

Such matrimonies deserve to be celebrated, right? Well, keep reading. On 20 September (which, coincidentally, is a decade to the day since my arrival in Leeds – thanks for remembering, guys), Leeds’ very own Food and Drink Association is throwing a massive party to celebrate the city’s food and drink credentials – and you’re all invited. I caught up with Leeds Food and Drink Association co-founder, Jo Murricane, to find out more.

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