With a hopeful belly and an air of excitement I climbed the stairs of Headrow House for the launch of the Leeds Indie Food Festival. After an incredibly successful debut last year, over 80 independent vendors will put on a mouth-watering array of one-off events, pop-ups and tours around this hungry city.
As I enter the already at capacity room I’m handed a stylish tote bag that is well weighted. I later discover to my delight this is due to a Five Points Pale ale, and a card for a few more on the house. I’m encouraged to pick from the plethora of promotional goodies at the welcome table. I take them all. Among those is a dangerous little offering from Tapped Brewery. They claim I’m holding the worlds hottest peanuts. Dusted with a blend made from the Carolina Reaper chilli they certainly don’t disappoint. Some people at work still won’t speak to me after passing them around.
I’m inside merely minutes before a warm box is thrust into my hand with a smile. Inside boasts the work of resident Ox Club. Beautifully medium/rare flank steak as triumphant as its namesake building. Sat atop perfectly cooked skin on fries, all laced with garlic bernaise and a refreshing salsa verde. I devour mine in minutes whilst eagerly eyeing the remains of my girlfriend’s. I chat with the chefs downstairs applauding their culinary skill before taking a step back to watch them flawlessly present 150 portions of the dish. Outstanding composure.
The night continues with talks from Leeds leading independent foodies. It’s inspiring to see how passionate and important food is in this city. It’s the catalyst that feeds our culture. A talk from Sofia Rebolo particularly struck a chord when she mentioned that 80% of new food business go under in the first year and how’s she’s championing meetings to support local businesses to make sure that doesn’t happen. When I walk past another independent food outlet that barely lasted 6 months my heart always saddens a little. This is important stuff.
It’s all started rather promisingly. Over the next several weeks local talent will display their passions and show-stopping creations to a very deserving city. We’re looking forward to School Diner, Dinner at the Manor, Pinxtos Brunch and An Evening with Fu Schnikens to name but a few.
I implore everyone to get down to as many as you can.
Leeds Indie Food Festival runs from 12-30th May, all event info and tickets can be found at leedsindiefood.co.uk
Words by HQ