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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Bundobust

Warning: this is another gushing post about my love of Leeds’ collaborative spirit. I know, I know. It’s a topic that features regularly in my Leeds-based posts, but that’s because it’s so bloody fantastic. Leeds is a city characterised by the spirit of its independents; independents who work with, not against, each other to create a city-wide food and drink offer that’s earned Leeds the reputation of being one of the country’s tastiest cities. Think Belgrave Music Hall’s Street Feast. Gusto Italiano at Lazy Lounge. The almighty brethren of organisations that make up the Leeds Food and Drink Association. And, as of this July, Bundobust.

Bundobust is a very special collaboration, combining the might of two award-winning purveyors of fine food and drink. On the food side you’ve got Prashad, a Leeds-based Indian vegetarian restaurant that propelled to infamy when it was crowned runner-up in Ramsay’s best restaurant of 2010. All that spice needs a special kind of sup to complement and refresh, and that’s where The Sparrow comes in. A Bradford-based craft beer bar, The Sparrow has racked up an impressive mantelpiece of accolades including a spot in The Guardian’s top 10 UK craft beer bars, Shortlist magazine’s top 10 UK pubs and the title of Bradford’s CAMRA pub of the year in 2012. Beer and Indian food are a beautiful combination indeed, so The Sparrow and Prashad have united to create Bundobust – a craft beer bar with an Indian vegetarian street food kitchen. Lucky Leeds.

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Trinity Kitchen Revisited

review

It’s been two months since the grand reveal of Leeds’ latest foodie hub, Trinity Kitchen. Possibly the most hyped launch of the year since Trinity Leeds itself, the whir of the PR machine paid off and it opened to a virtual fanfare of glowing reviews, which I was very happy to add my voice to. We all swooned over the décor, were impressed with the range of permanent restaurants, but most importantly, we loved the fact that Trinity Kitchen would give a temporary home to five exciting, independent street food traders that would change each month.

And two months on, it’s these traders that have made Trinity Kitchen worth visiting again, and again, and again. People love to get ancy about the term ‘street food’, but I’m more interested in what it represents and for me, it’s the chance to enjoy a diverse mix of exquisitely-crafted food served up by passionate people. No more, no less. And this is where Trinity Kitchen has excelled, especially during the advance of winter when street food would normally mean frozen fingers and soggy sarnies. Seeking shelter from the cold, I’ve been wowed by the changing traders during the first two months, with highlights including the glorious chilli paneer delights of Manjit’s Kitchen, The Marvellous Tea Dance Company’s sparkly brownies (aka the best brownies EVER) and the pakora goodness of Fresh Rootz, a purveyor of vegan and vegetarian world street food.

Trinity Kitchen

Left to right – Chilli Paneer Wrap from Manjit’s Kitchen, Brownies from The Marvellous Tea Dance Company, Spicy Mexican Style Pakoras from Fresh Rootz

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