Sheffield Food Festival back to tantalise tastebuds

Olive stall - Sheffield Food Festival
Olive stall - Sheffield Food Festival
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The traders have been booked, menus are being prepared and the crowds are now the final ingredient...

Sheffield is about to become a culinary paradise once again as the city’s food festival returns for its fifth year.

Offering demonstrations from the region’s best chefs, a mini beer festival, stalls and family activities over three days from Saturday, the festival’s focus is firmly back on the city centre after a foray down to The Moor last year.

Visitors will be able to eat, drink and shop in and around the Peace Gardens, Winter Gardens and Millennium Square. The Moor is still playing a role on Saturday with the Taste Moor celebration between 11am and 4pm.

The food festival was held over the May Bank Holiday for the first time last year, after switching from September.

Niki Baker, from Sheffield Hallam University’s business school which organises the event, said: “The bank holiday is a great weekend, and while lots of people do go away, many don’t, so we have some really good stuff planned.

“The Peace Gardens make a natural amphitheatre for the festival. It’s going to be very busy. The festival hasn’t got smaller, we’ve just squeezed the same amount in. It’ll stop me having to run up and down Pinstone Street, at least!”

Niki said she has had a hectic final week of making last-minute arrangements, delivering brochures and fielding calls from people keen to get involved.

A balance of smaller artisan traders and bigger names is essential, Niki added.

“You have to have a mix to make sure the sums add up, I hope we’ve got a bit of something for everyone.

“People are going to spend money across the city, not just at the festival. It brings an economic boost and fabulous footfall, whatever weekend it’s on.

“We have made a change in response to a recent trend - in all previous years we’ve supplied a pop-up restaurant infrastructure so that local restaurants can come to the festival, however in the last 18 months there has been an absolute explosion in street food traders.”

The popularity of the regular Peddler Night Market on Arundel Street proves Sheffielders’ hunger for street food, said Niki.

“I think people like the sheer quirkiness and the fact that if you don’t try the food there and then you might not get another chance.”

Meanwhile, Millennium Square will be turned into a pop-up farmyard by Whirlow Hall Farm Trust, and chef demos will return to the Peace Gardens, with Simon Ayres, from the Cross Scythes at Totley and Michelin starred chef Rupert Rowley, from Fischer’s, among those showing off their cooking flair and expertise.

Niki said: “We’ve got a really good reputation, we’ve built on that and now have solid credibility with our food in Sheffield. Events like this, and other markets, can only go towards strengthening that. We’ve got the best of all worlds - the beautiful Peak District nearby, fantastic produce and really creative people.”