Want to be a festival vendor? Posted: 24 March
We explore the ins and outs with Leeds Indie Food’s Matt DixApplying to be a street food vendor at a festival can seem a big step – if you’re ready, it could provide the boost you need to get you to the next level; if you’re underprepared, it’s a perfect way to highlight any fissures running through your business model.
Leeds Indie Food’s Festival Director Matt Dix knows all about working with street food traders – the 18-day LIF festival offers almost one hundred events featuring independent Leeds food and drink traders. We got the lowdown on points to consider before applying.
His first point? Know your niche
“Think carefully about which events you want to apply for, and why you’d be well-fitted to that event. If you’re a brand new trader selling something super unique like Vietnamese mini hotdogs or whatever then asking to be booked for a huge music festival with big crowd capacity makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Spreading yourself too thin in applying to hundreds of varied festivals probably speaks more of your enthusiasm than anything else, but have the confidence to slim-down your applications to those events you’re most suited for. “The worst thing you can do is make it look like you’re just mindlessly emailing any event going looking for a pitch,” he notes. “We need to know you’ve though about the application, you think your food would sell well and you’re prepared for the scale and workload involved, whether it’s a tiny catering job for thirty people or a festival of 30,000.”
Understand the finances – and the compromises
Bookers or concession managers are essentially middlemen, and traders often forget this. You both have different aims; traders often want the lowest pitch fee and the fewest number of traders, ensuring big queues and big profits. Festival organisers, conversely, want the biggest number of traders possible, increasing the variety of their festival offer and reducing queuing times. And, naturally, they want to charge them the maximum pitch fee possible too.
Matt notes, “we work to keep our pitch fees as low as possible and to bring in exciting new traders, but it’s always a balancing act, and that’s something new traders don’t always realise. A tough gig is a tough gig; sometimes you take some hits. One way to guarantee not getting booked again is to act like you’re going out of businesses from one bad weekend. Unless it’s a huge deal like Glastonbury or something, your business needs to be robust enough to absorb a few knocks.” You have to remember, you, as a trader, are not suffering alone. “If it’s quiet for you, it’s quiet for us too; no-one is happy. The best way to get repeat business is to be the person who has a beer with us at the end of the weekend and says ‘that was a bit shit, but these things happen. What can we do to make it better next time?’ Not ‘I want my pitch fee back’.”
What will an organiser expect from you?
“Good communication, primarily, plus honesty and reliability,” Matt responds. “If you’re contacting us for the first time, include as much information as possible about your business (including photos), and be sensible and definite about the kind of events you’re looking for.” Being professional is key – “we get dozens of emails a week from hotmail email addresses which just say ‘Hi I would like info about a pitch at your festival, we do amazing wood fired Pizza. Marco.’ and half a dozen arsey follow ups when we don’t reply immediately. Be polite and communicative and you’ll definitely get a reply, plus we’ll happily point nice people in the right direction. The festival circuit is a small world, and we always know somewhere you can go for a booking.”
Be ready and prepared
Of course, every event and its needs will be different – “but it makes our lives so easy when people have every document we could possibly need in one place. A shared Dropbox folder is good for this. We usually need food hygiene certificates, fire and gas certs, risk assessments, liability insurance etc. plus menus, logos and hi-res pictures, and if we have to email individually for each of those things we’re both wasting time.” Matt has a tip: “the best traders have a pack made up at the start of the season and never have to think about it again.”
The Dos and Don’ts
“Pay your pitch fee on time, and in advance if requested. Reply to emails, return phone calls. We also expect reliability. If you say yes to a booking then pull out two weeks before the gig when we’re chasing you for the pitch fee we’ve then got two weeks to find a replacement trader at the height of summer when everyone good is booked up. Don’t do that.”
What comes around goes around…
“Bad behaviour, ripping people off, leaving things messy, bailing on gigs etc. etc. means we won’t book you again, but it also means other event organisers won’t be keen. It’s a small world. We all know each other and we all discuss traders. There are traders I turn down because of their dealings with other organisers, but I doubt they realise that’s why. If you had a terrible weekend’s trade but you were polite, cheerful, turned up on time and didn’t leave a mess, we’re much more likely to throw you a bone next time (i.e. give you a prime pitch or preferential booking) or to knock some money off your pitch fee.”
One final top tip from Matt:
“Have a smart, interesting stall that’s not just a black marquee with a printed banner (look at Yakumama for a prime example of someone doing a great job of this) or, ideally, have a van or trailer. They’re not ideal to cook from, but you will absolutely get booked for gigs over marquee traders every time. A field full of marquees looks rubbish. A field full of unique-looking vans looks ace.”
What should a supplier be aware of, and prepared for?
There are two big things no festival organiser can control – the weather, and the crowds. “Sometimes it’s just a washout, and sometimes at a huge festival everyone wants the hot dogs and no-one want your veggie cauliflower Mexican wraps. Sometimes, at a tiny street food thing, everyone wants your wraps and no one wants the hotdogs. Food is event-specific, so pick your applications carefully.”
“Also be aware that we can’t provide much in the way of estimates,” Matt comments.
“‘How much should I expect to sell’ is a ridiculous thing to ask, and implies you don’t know what you’re doing. We can give you an indication of ticket sales, and tell you how many traders there are, but advance sales don’t mean much at many gigs, so you’ve got to do your own back of an envelope calculation. It’s one of the most difficult parts of being a trader, and one I’ve got wrong a few times in the past running street food trailers, but it’s important that you take on that responsibility yourself and not assume the event organiser should provide you with a detailed excel spreadsheet. I need you to overstock so you definitely don’t run out if it’s busy. You want to understock so you don’t get left with an excess that destroys your margins. We need to meet somewhere in the middle.”
Know your customer
“There are also limitations on price/menu to consider. £3 for chips at a big festival might fly, but an expensive gourmet burger at a little scrappy music event or something will look silly. You can’t always charge what you think your food is worth, especially if you use lots of expensive ingredients and time consuming prep. If you’re not happy lowering your prices a bit for some gigs then don’t apply for them. Apply for what you’re suited for.”
Specifically for LIF suppliers…
Matt tells us:
“we like people with unique stalls, who sell good quality food, and who are friendly. Variety is key for LIF events, or for concession management we take on. We like to think our traders are the pick of the crop - a good mix of bigger traders who can move a lot of stock (e.g. Patty Smith’s, who really put a shift in on the grill) and cool, quirky guys. We always try and include some new faces, and try to champion those who engage with us.”
LIF is all about promoting quality street food in the North rather than taking on any old application. It is also uncommonly keen on ensuring its traders get a good deal. “We’re open and honest if a gig has a higher pitch fee,” Matt underlines –
“we explain why, and make it clear the kind of trader it should suit. We’re also happy to work with smaller traders to get them access too, e.g. we might forgive an electricity fee for someone we want to get on a big gig to make it a little easier, or offer a deal where they can pay 50% up front and 50% after. We’re as flexible as we can be, if you work with us and communicate well.”
For more guidance and information about festival and event catering, get your ticket to next week’s Members’ Networking Event at Sela Bar, on the Pros and Cons of Festival and Event Catering.
Festivals, Events and Event Catering: The good, the bad & the ugly Posted: 22 MarchTo kick off our most requested event to date, we caught up with Jason Bailey, occasional Arepa Arepa Arepa slinger and founder of the always brilliant street food market, GRUB, clearly run for the enjoyment of the public, as well as the traders (a very very good thing, we think you’ll agree!) and one of the panelists from our March Networking Event to find out more about how to approach festivals and event organisers.
What do you look for in a street food trader or makes a good street food trader in your eyes?
A good street food trader for us is someone who cooks excellent, interesting food with proper passion. As opposed to a catering company with 4 different concepts.
What makes you want to work with a trader again?
We only look for two things when considering bringing traders back, firstly a positive attitude. We want traders who really care and want to work together to make the event successful, this normally just means being friendly and when things go wrong staying positive and helping to resolve problems. Secondly how easy were they to work with before, during and after the event. There is still a huge problem with street food traders who don't read trader packs and emails properly which makes it torturous to work with them, on top of this if folk get properly involved in promoting the event with us we're more likely to re-book.
What’s the one thing you see street food traders forgetting about or underestimating at events? Is there a mistake that you keep seeing?
The biggest mistake we see from new starters is not making it clear to punters what they're offering. This normally means menu signage is missing, too small or inadequately explained (if they're doing something a bit niche) or none of their food or cooking is visible. This robs potential eaters of any clue as to what the trader is cooking up and so many punters make their mind up on what to eat from about 2m away, also the more 'theatre' the punters can see the more excited they're going to be about trying the traders' food. Closed chafing dishes are not visually exciting.
How far in advance do you start planning the traders?
We book in 6 week blocks and we normally book 3-4 weeks before that block starts.
What’s the best way to connect with an event that you want to work with?
For us the best way is to contact us via social media (gives us an instant look at what you're doing and how your food looks) followed by a nice email explaining who you are, what you do and what you want to do when plus links to all your social media and website. What we don't want is a direct email with no context that just says 'what's your application process?'
Book your spot at our next IFDA Networking event on the 27th March at Sela 5pm To hear more from Jason along with other street food experts and veterans including:
Andrew Critchett – Founder of Fish& and NorthernStrEats, a British Street Food Awards winner and IFDA consultant, one of the first wave of street food traders in the North.
Lucie Mountain – Founder of Crêpe Lucette and master of being in more than one place at the same time, with a small fleet of trailers.
Adam Bryson – Founder of Kerb Edge. Burger slinger at festivals and the kitchens of Head of Stream pubs, in Leeds and Hull. Also, always in several places at once. How do they do this?
As Jason says, ‘The way traders interact with events and festivals is important but equally important is how they work with other traders, building real, effective relationships with other traders (both online and in person) is key to opening doors to new opportunities, free advice as well as most importantly ENJOYING YOUR WORK!’
Gondola Raclette on Hidden Restaurants Screening Party Posted: 13 MarchOne the orginal IFDA members will be appearing on the new Michel Roux Jr TV Channel 4 TV show on Wednesday 15th March and you’re all invited to the screening party at Epicure Bar and Kitchen starting at 6pm 15th March at 37-39 Queensgate, Huddersfield, HD1 2RD.
The show focuses on the two-star Michelin chef traveling across the UK hunting down the best ‘hidden’ eateries, ‘maverick’ chefs sampling street food from a hidden restaurant along and to meet a new breed of British chef along the way.
We’re so proud to have watched the amazing journey James Briscoe has been on in setting up Gondola Raclette fuelled by his passion for serving great street food. His dream of taking an abandoned and disused gondola bound for the scrap heap and turning it into his street food raclette vision is an inspiring tale for us all.
If all the above isn’t enough to entice you, it wouldn’t be a screening party without James’ delicious raclette! Hope to see you there!
Why are breweries phasing out cask? Posted: 6 MarchQuite a few breweries seem to have been phasing out their cask offering for a while now. But this old method of conditioning and storing beer is surely part of brewery history – so what are the reasons why are so many successful craft brewers moving away from it?
We spoke to Russell Bisset, Director at Northern Monk Brew Co., as well as Dan Logan, Director at Eyes Brewing, to get the inside track on craft brew’s take on cask versus keg.
What is cask?
Cask or cask-conditioned beer (or ale) is generally both unfiltered and unpasteurised. It is conditioned (including the secondary ferment) within the cask itself, avoiding the addition of nitrogen or carbon dioxide for fizz. It is a more traditional, less bubbly beer.
Big breweries such as Brewdog, Beavertown and Buxton for example, have been phasing out their cask offering for a number of years. Why? As Russell says, there’s a time and a place for everything – after a country walk when you come into a pub with a roaring open fire, “nothing is better than a good pint of cask.” It hasn’t lost its draw, then – so why the move away? Obviously there are taste reasons - “for different priorities – take Northern Monk’s more hop-forward, higher alcohol options,” Russell goes on, “keg provides something colder and crisper, and carbonation helps with keeping those subtle aromas.” But isn’t there room for both cask and keg in today’s market?
Russell notes that Northern Monk isn’t ideologically more in favour of keg than cask – but that, despite this, 80-90% of what they do is keg. “That’s more as a by-product of the attitude towards, and price point of, cask.”
Eyes similarly make casked, canned and some bottled beers, but Dan is more blunt about cask:
“Generally cask beer is crap. You need to look at who is producing it. The main people in the cask only breweries are the old-school, who don’t want to change. I honestly think that these old school breweries have stopped trying to make their stuff any better than it needs to be. The crap, brown, hardly hopped stuff sells, as the British drinker has become used to the mediocrity of it. This is because of chain pubs and beer lists and distributors who base everything on the amount of alcohol in each beer. For example, if your beer is 5%, you can sell it for more than if it was 4%.”
“We just can’t make it stack up,” Russell laments. Northern Monk do offer their beers in cask, to order, but price point is definitely a problem. People just don’t want to, or expect to, pay as much for cask. If we want that craft brew focus on quality, cask brew at traditional cask prices just becomes an impossible ask:
“A pub might want to pay £50-£60 for a 3-4% cask. The very cheapest we wholesale at is £72. With the quality of ingredients we use, it just isn’t feasible to deliver the taste we prioritise on these price expectations.”
Eyes Brewing similarly wrestle with this unachievable price point. Dan highlighted two Eyes beers out at the moment that highlight this – a 4.5% wheat beer (bitter weisse) and a 3.6% white IPA (kleiner weisse).
“The bitter has a really nice malt base but is lighter on the hops so costs less to make. The kleiner weisse is all about the hops but is lighter on the grain, making it less alcoholic but way more expensive. If we were selling this beer through lists like ‘SIBA’ or ‘Enterprise’, for example, we wouldn’t be allowed to sell our kleiner weisse for what it’s worth.
Most breweries that produce cask beer are on these lists. So why would they bother to think about the ingredients they use? Why bother spending loads on really punchy hops from New Zealand or America when there is no money in it? You may as well make a 6% beer with no hops in it. It costs you less to make and you can charge more to sell it.”
Control and reliability
Cask can be unpredictable. Kept on tap too long, handled improperly or not aged enough, it can be unreliable and create a completely different beer from what the brewer envisaged.
This is where the old skill of cellarmanship came in – an art which, once crucial for all landlords, has become increasingly rare. “It’s a real shame, but the attention isn’t being paid to good cellarmanship”, Russell comments. “It’s just such an important element of cask. You really are leaving your product in someone else’s hands.”
And a well-kept cask certainly requires good cellarmanship. Cask takes control of the final taste and quality of the beer away from the brewer, so you have to trust the publican’s hands you leave it in. If the publican hasn’t looked after the beer in a specific way, the same pint can taste completely different in two pubs, on the same day.
From Dan’s point of view, this unreliability is key.
“It doesn’t matter how we send it out, we cannot control how it is stored. We assume it’s in a nice, temperature-controlled cellar. The problem is we have no say in this – we’ve even had pubs use our full casks as spare stools in hot bars! We’ve seen our beer tapped weeks after we sold it and weeks after the sell by date. Again, this isn’t our fault. It doesn’t matter how good we make our beer – if people aren’t looking after the casks then that will ruin the flavour. Kegged beer has fewer complications.”
Swapping cask for keg
Beer is usually the final, completed product when placed in keg, taking away any of the variance in final handling which can so drastically effect taste in a cask offering.
But publican cellarmanship – knowing how and when to store, stillage, peg, vent, and tap, along with using their own taste to make those fine decisions about how to optimise the beer – will, inevitably, be a lost skill as more breweries move away from cask. This really is sad, Russell agrees, as ironically, the “craft beer” movement will lose one of its crafts – moving more towards the mechanised production methods of the massive breweries they so often endeavour to be distanced from.
“Getting a beer tapped,” Dan suggests, “is an art. It’s something that takes practice, experience and knowledge. A really good pub should be training people in proper cellar management. It should be massively important to the pub to sell beer as it is intended, as that should get punters through the door.”
To help us realise what we’ve got before it’s gone, “we need a bit of education in the market”, Russell stresses. Cask can be the perfect environment for certain types of beers – and if we want to support the craft breweries pushing quality to the fore, we need to learn to pay more for craft cask - and focus on keeping vital cellarmanship skills alive.
The shape of things to come - how is climate change shaping our food culture? Posted: 27 February
More and more of the public (as well as the talented chefs and producers behind their meals), are interested in prioritising the quality, provenance and locality of what they eat and create. We are more and more focussed on minimising food miles, increasing organic and free range produce and celebrating the seasonal.
But what is happening to our weather is changing the face of what is “local”. As early as 2000, the media were warning us of the impact of global warming on our food scene, as (traditionally Mediterranean) red mullet invaded the North Sea, and the traditional fish stocks of cod and whiting were dying off due to the unnatural warmth of the water. This year, we saw a shortage of courgettes and spinach because of ‘bad weather’ in Spain and Italy – Southern Spanish vegetable-growing paradise Murcia suffered its heaviest rains in 30 years, leaving only 30% of its fields now usable. More than 90% of the UK’s iceberg lettuce is imported from South-Eastern Spain, so we’ve seen shortages there too. What’s more, it sounds like we have more fruit and vegetable shortages ahead.
Whilst more of us want to celebrate the UK asparagus season in May, Yorkshire and beyond want to enjoy rhubarb from the rhubarb triangle and we want to celebrate livestock reared locally, sustainably and humanely, locality is set to change – and may already be changing.
Ben Davy, Head Chef at Michelin-recommended Ox Club, was keen not to panic, but did note some changes over the decade plus that he has been focussing on seasonal produce. “The way seasons stretch into one another now is something I've started to become used to,” he told us. “Winter seems to start later and then spring seems to come earlier.”
It may not feel like it at this time of year, but Ben’s right. Our climate is less predictable; both milder and more extreme. There are some positives in terms of what is available, and when, as Ben highlights:
“I've found mackerel supply to be better and to last well into December which it never used to. Also warmer waters meant lobster were around for longer than usual last year.”
A chef’s role has always required constant innovation, but perhaps the changes in availability and seasonality that lay ahead will make this process even more pertinent.
Ben’s vegetable supplier mirrored the issues outlined at the beginning of this article, as “large spells of wet weather are known to effect crops quite significantly too. I was speaking to the farmer who grows the kale we use at the restaurant and he was saying around 90% of his crops were ruined a few years ago because of an extended period of very heavy rain.” This year is no novelty, then. “A similar thing has happened in Spain this year resulting in entire crops of lettuce, salad, courgettes etc being devastated.”
Although we may be thankful for a warmer climate and its impact on new production possibilities such as British wine, we are certainly seeing a change in what is available, and when. Just as we were getting to know seasonality and what to expect from British soils, we may have to think again. As Ben says, “I'm sure this kind of thing has always happened throughout history but the question is, is it now happening more regularly?" We think it probably is, and that the food scene ahead may look different over the coming years.
Festival Opportunities Posted: 23 February
Soon enough festival season will be upon us, to help you prepare we have put together a list of some events taking place in the Yorkshire Region.
If you are looking for vending opportunities, this could be a good place to start. Each event is linked to the event page…happy browsing.
We also have a festival special coming up for March’s Networking event, there will be experts on hand to advise you on all of your queries relating to trading at a festival, from getting the best price to picking your pitch. Lookout for the event on our website soon.
Ilkley Beer Festival
Yorvik Viking Festival
CAMRA Beer, Cider & Perry Festival
Huddersfield Literature Festival
North Leeds Charity Beer Festival
Tideswell Food Festival
Sheffield Folk Sessions Festival
Live at Leeds
Harrogate Spring Flower Show
Easter Sunday Food and Drink Festival
Filey Folk Festival
Hebden Bridge Folk Roots Festival
Holmfirth Folk Festival
Shepley Spring Festival
The Great North Folk Festival
The Great British Food Festival
Lotherton Hall Food Festival
Leeds Indie Food Festival
LS6 Beer Festival
Yorkshire Vegan Festival
Vegan Festival UK
Burton Agnnes Jazz and Blues
Cleckheaton Folk Festival
The Willowman Festival
Beverley Folk Festival 2017
5th Ryedale Jazz Festival
Vegan Street Food Festival
The Great British Food Festival
Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink Festival
Gin Vodka Fest Leeds
Wetherby Food Festival
Horsforth Food and Drink Festival
Otley Food and Drink Festival
Cocoon in the Park
Deer Shed Festival
Cottingham Folk Festival
Leeds International Beer Festival
Scarborough Jazz Festival
Getting to know the IFDA's new appointment: Thom Hetherington Posted: 20 FebruaryThe IFDA is proud to announce the appointment of Thom Hetherington for 2017. Well known in the Northern food scene as well as internationally, Thom is a speaker, writer and consultant on food, drink, art and culture.
This week we thought we would get to know Thom, who founded Restaurant magazine and the 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards, a little better, with a personal Q&A for the IFDA.
His enthusiasm and friendliness are infectious, and resulted in a prolonged chat about the state of Leeds’ independent food culture, Thom’s ambitions for the IFDA and its members, his own foodie preferences around Leeds and what his experiences can bring to the IFDA, amongst other topics!
We started at the beginning. The all important topic - food and drink. These often come lumped under the broader umbrella of a city’s “culture”, although their differences to other “cultural” elements such as arts and performance are profound. We asked Thom about the definition of “culture”, and how Leeds compares to his hometown of Manchester.
Although “’Culture’, in terms of say visual arts or theatre, is heavily publicly funded”, Thom notes, it is “invariably the customers who pay for restaurants and bars to survive”. This can have a more profound (and more positive) impact than just funding issues - it can mean that a city’s food and drink offering is much more in-tune with what the population want – because people are really voting with their wallets.
Similarly, no city’s offering is the same. Thom’s home city of Manchester has a completely different offer to Leeds (and comparing Leeds to other cities is a subject due to be addressed in depth at an upcoming IFDA event!), but Thom isolated the important factors in a city’s food and drink scene:
I think it is useful to look at Leeds’ assets and USPs. For me, there were three main things. The first is that there is an incredibly strong regional pride, a real sense of community, and a willingness to collaborate and work together. Talent and good operators enjoy being in Leeds, and it seems to retain the best of them, which is a very important point. I’m not saying that this sense of identity and loyalty is unique to Leeds, but as a city it certainly has it in spades.
We agree – Leeds’ independent scene has not only been supported by the punter, but has been really mutually supported, by other independent business owners. Pop-ups and collaborations have long been happening, city-wide. Focussing on the purchaser, Thom notes
the thing to remember is that all businesses start with a market – who will buy what you provide? Leeds is blessed with a really sizable catchment, and whilst you have a large and varied audience you also have a significant element of affluent and sophisticated foodies, which are great for aspirational food and drink businesses.
It’s not only the food industry we have to thank for this. Thom highlights that this is “partly down to the strength of its finance and business communities, and its universities. The element that still feels like it has untapped potential is tourism, as that visitor economy is vital to sustain food and drink businesses. That needs to happen next.”
Big aspirations, then, to look citywide and holistically at the sort of support the food and drink industry need in the coming months and years.
Thom also notes Leeds’ luck, in terms of the remarkable premises available to small business ventures; the old buildings with smaller landlords and local private companies still in ownership. These are so suitable for housing smaller food and drinks operations, he suggests:
I promise you that this is not the same in all cities, where lack of suitable small, affordable sites in high footfall areas can create a really unbalanced food and drink scene. In essence, the IFDA is here as an incubator, to help Leeds to grow as many of its own brilliant food and drink businesses as possible, which will eventually fill those beautiful old buildings, which in turn will make Leeds into a food and drink destination, which will bring people in from all over the world.
Big plans I know, but in some ways if we don’t think as bravely and ambitiously as the entrepreneurs we’re here to support then we’ll never be able to give them what they need.
It’s clear that Thom’s direction for the IFDA is powered by an ambition and aspiration to raise these remarkable small businesses up, so that they can achieve their potential. But what specifically does the IFDA bring, in Thom’s opinion, to these small businesses? In short, he says, “everything”. Running such a business is hard, he notes, and “not for the faint-hearted”. Specifically, he prioritises two main issues:
The first is that no one opens a cool little food and drink business because they like paperwork, legal stuff, bureaucracy and more paperwork. They do it for the love and the romance and the product. Unfortunately, they will find an astonishing volume of paper and process, and without acquiring the right support or advice at the right time they will be in serious trouble.
That sea of regulations and paperwork is enough to dissuade all but the most committed small business. Again, this topic will be covered in a future IFDA event, so keep your eyes peeled if you think it could benefit you.
The second issue is, perhaps, a little more unexpected. “Creating a business full of happy, buzzy people”, Thom states, “can ironically leave you isolated and lonely.” The long hours, the unsociable times, the urgent problems that keep you introverted rather than looking around you - these are the emotional costs of your business undertaking. But how can the IFDA help?
They not only provide access to speakers, professional services, experts, and best-in-class operators to mentor and advise, but also create a peer network where likeminded people can share stories and advice, and feel that they’re not doing it all on their own.
Thom has helped food culture not only across the North but nationally and internationally through starting Restaurant magazine and the 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards – so why Leeds? What excites him in the food scene? “Anthonys”, he reveals, blew him away initially, and since that, he admits, “my experiences had probably been a little sporadic and unadventurous”. But then came The Man Behind the Curtain. Michael O’Hare’s innovative, brave fine dining venture enthused Thom as much as so many of the restaurant’s visitors – “I found it gobsmacking – how could such an ambitious, unique and beautifully realised restaurant just appear in Leeds with so little media fanfare?” Re-igniting an interest in the Leeds food scene, Thom has since been excited by so many of the city’s offerings -
I had a very good meal at Ox Club – it serves a very pared back and modern style of British cooking which I adore, and reminds me of places in London like Lyle’s, Noble Rot, St John’s or the Clove Club – and like everyone else I have fallen madly for Bundobust. Admittedly that’s cheating as they have also opened in Manchester now, which is a little closer to home for me. I’ve also been a long-time fan of Friends of Ham, right back to when they had their original tiny unit, and Layne’s is still my coffee shop of choice.
I never miss an excuse to wonder around Kirkgate Market (I always have a strange urge to buy the double-yolkers from the egg stall) and I’ve also enjoyed exploring around Leeds’ burgeoning Northern Quarter, and have had good working lunches in the Belgrave and Zaap, to name just two. I had a great dinner in The Reliance the other day, which also has a tidy little wine list, and was lucky enough to visit North Bar’s Brewery - they’re clever guys and seem to be doing everything right. Most recently I was back at the Flying Pizza for lunch yesterday and had a spectacular lobster and truffle risotto – It’s an institution rather than a start-up but it’s still a class act.
Next up on my to do list are two very differing places. I hear nothing but praise for Tharavadu, and I adore authentic Indian food, and I have also walked past The Swine That Dines twice and seen really good looking menus which had me with my face pressed up against the glass. I think it only opens Thursday to Friday so I’ll have to try to time my next IFDA meeting accordingly.
What does Thom’s expertise and experience bring to the IFDA? He said yes to the appointment “for a number of reasons”. Besides a real passion for foot and drink entrepreneurs, he admits “I get such a kick out of the base alchemy of people creating a commercially viable, useful and crowd-pleasing business where there wasn’t one before, and doing it through nothing but talent, passion and sheer hard work.” The IFDA’s roster of exciting members can certainly benefit from his enthusiasm on this front. Another reason he went for the role is that, as he puts it, “I’ve always enjoyed Leeds”. It gave him a reason to better explore this great Northern hub –
it’s a big place and although my business and personal interests span the North it’s hard to really get to know a city without immersing yourself in it. It was clear that there are loads of interesting things happening in Leeds, particularly at the more granular independent level, and I realised that working with the IFDA would give me the perfect excuse to get to know Leeds better.
And in terms of what Thom brings to IFDA members across the city? Not only enthusiasm but prolific ability and experiences in this field.
I would like to think that what I bring is not only a genuine commitment to the city and to the IFDA members, but also a wealth of experience and contacts at the highest level, as well as the ‘sympathetic clarity’ of an outsider in terms of seeing and saying what is needed. I’ve been working in and around the restaurant and bar industry in the North of England for a long time now, on everything from magazines and events to various boards and committees, always learning and contributing. After twenty-one years you realise there is a value in the network you have built up, the knowledge and opinions you have acquired, and the goodwill you have generated. I want to bring that to bear for the IFDA.
We cannot wait to put Thom’s expertise and passion to good use, for the benefit of IFDA members citywide.
Find out more about IFDA membership here
Retaining and Motivating Staff Posted: 16 February
Let’s be honest, your staff can make or break your business. Any kitchen error or bartending mistake can be rectified by a polite, efficient and apologetic waitress, as even the best food can be let down by surly and inattentive service.
As noted in our December blog Have a Very Indie Christmas, more hospitality staff (be that waitress, chef, barman or front of house) are choosing these roles for life, rather than as stepping stones into other fields, earlier on in their careers. That means that the traditionally high turnover rates in the hospitality industry may slow, and your staff may be with you for much longer.Getting the right staff in the first place, then, is crucial, and how and where you advertise can certainly shape the sorts of applicants you want. Passive job seekers who might be interested in your actual business can be accessed over Twitter, as well as other social networks and your own website. More experienced management roles can be better filled through trade press, and for businesses wanting to maintain a sense of community in their locality, using local press (and indeed, your own front window) can be the best ways of doing so.
But once you have the right staff, retaining them can be more difficult. In an industry with traditionally high turnover, as mentioned, there are always jobs becoming available, leading to the ‘grass is always greener’ thought process, and for most in the hospitality interest to keep at least one eye out for job advancement opportunities.
How do I keep my staff?
What’s the simple trick to retaining staff? Keeping them happy. Happy staff will generally be more productive and willing to go that step further for you and the business, which has a positive effect on both your reputation and your profits.
Fear not – retaining the best staff isn’t always about offering the highest wages and the most holidays, as many would assume! If your staff are happy, they are much more likely to stay with you. And much less likely to leave you with an empty, unproductive restaurant, café or bar.
Happy staff are motivated staff with exciting prospects for advancement ahead within your business. Staff who feel vital to your business’ success, and really feel the impact of their suggestions and contributions.
Whatever you do, sometimes you will lose staff. Even the best businesses lose their key players, often down to changes in family situation, where they live, or undeniable job opportunities. Where staff morale is high, though, turnover tends to be lessened. A healthy combination of communication with your staff, and recognising and incentivising their achievements can contribute to lower turnover levels.
Of course, providing reasonable wages and working hours is also crucial. However good you are as an employer, it’s inexcusable to ask staff to work for a pittance, all hours God sends. Be flexible and reasonable with rota change requests where possible and provide obvious career advancement routes, so no one feels stuck in a rut.
Communication is key
This is a two-way street and crucial from both directions! Close communications means that your staff will come to you with any grumblings rather than hang back and spread any issues between themselves, increasing any animosity. It also means that you get to benefit from their innovative ideas and initiative. If you foster an environment where lines of communication are open and their opinion is always valid, you will gain insight into how they feel work, the job and the business is progressing, as well as keeping you aware of issues and changes in their social lives, so as to keep your levels of empathy and understanding high. Communication from your end also means that changes to business policy or protocol, any issues and even simple day-to-day changes like a new menu are easily absorbed and discussed.
How to foster open communications?
Respect is key. Your staff are as crucial to this business as you are, so never undervalue them. Ways to chat:
-Team meetings. Regular team meetings can be a useful way to keep staff informed and provide an official route for them to air any objections, or voice any innovative ideas. A relaxed team meeting with a cup of coffee to start the day is a good way to ease into the day. If team meetings end up happening at the end of a shift and may run over, it’s a good idea to at least provide food and drink, to reimburse your staff in some way for the extra time you’ve taken out of their day.
-Notice boards. Notice boards can be passive aggressive if they are the only opportunity provided to air grievances, but they can be an easy way to keep staff updated on new business policies or new bits of legislation the business must adhere to. They also provide a more anonymous place for staff to put forward their ideas. If kept positive, a notice board can open up communication to the less boisterous or verbal members of staff.
-Be present. It’s impossible for staff to share any problems with you if you’re rarely there. Be present on the floor and work with them – understand their roles and the issues they face. Don’t let it become “us” and “them”, with you in the back counting money and your staff on the floor, doing all the hard work.
Reasons staff stay
Incentives. Empty promises of job advancement as and when the business succeeds aren’t concrete, and are unlikely to keep your staff motivated. Staff want to see that, when they work hard, it is noticed and respected. Incentives aren’t always about money – they’re simply about recognition of somebody’s hard work.
Be clear what the incentive is trying to achieve – improve sales in a specific item? Improve time management? Increase knowledge? Improve customer service? Decide before awarding any incentive exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve, and choose a reward that reflects what your staff value. Is the reward staff-wide, team-wide or individual? Work out exactly what you’re rewarding and how before you mention it.
Incentives such as all-paid team nights out can be a great reward, as well as allowing your staff more time to get to know each other (and you) out of a work environment. Working out what team members want or need is a great first step before offering incentives.
Whatever your choice, recognising your staff’s achievements is a great way to keep them happy.
The IFDA teams up with independent food and drinks PR specialists I Like Press Posted: 2 February
Having set up the launches of such renowned Leeds eateries as Bundobust, Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen and Headrow House, to name but a few, as well as co-founding the Leeds Indie Food Festival, Leeds PR label I Like Press are well positioned to gauge the status of the Leeds food and drink scene.
We caught up with I Like Press director Simon Fogal to find out what ILP might have instore for the development and evolution of the IFDA offering, and how Leeds’ great food and drink merchants can benefit.
The IFDA and ILP join forces
Simon only has pride and passion about the Leeds food scene he represents. “Leeds is a hotbed of talent”, he notes, “with an ever-growing number of places opening – the hospitality industry is booming.” But how will the IFDA contribute to the growth and success of Leeds’ food and drink providers? “The IFDA is the place to come in order to take things to the next level”, according to Simon.
He tells us
I see the IFDA as a place for networking together, offering members opportunities - not just helping start-ups (which has already proved a great service), but offering expert tips and advice (on skills shortages, the latest restaurant technology, common pitfalls etc.) to the more established businesses.
I Like Press is well-renowned for its connection to and support of Leeds’ independent food scene. This should fit well with the IFDA’s desire to shore-up and sustain small food and drink businesses. Beginning as a PR company focussing on breaking new music acts, Simon points out that food was a natural progression, tapping into the company’s natural propensity to put in “lots of hard work and get chatting to people about new concepts and offerings.”
I Like Press many be best-known for its part in the Leeds Indie Food festival, which they helped found, Simon highlights, “as a way to get more people writing about Leeds.” Leeds “really needed a solid food festival, and one open to anyone to enter – there are no huge fees for being a part of it.” Leeds Indie Food festival is now rumoured to be the third biggest food festival in the UK.
“Simon sees “the IFDA on a similar journey to what Leeds is taking, all working towards ground breaking facilities and services.”
The evolution of Leeds’ food scene
With the proliferation in quality casual dining establishments in Leeds, Simon predicts more “destination” restaurants. “We have had a fair few big brand restaurants come to town. That’s not to say I am not a fan of those,” he quickly points out, “but we need some big, unique offers.” He’s talking about the few fine dining experiences Leeds offers:
We need more offerings like Man Behind The Curtain, OX Club and The Reliance. But not only that – we want more experiences like Swine That Dines - people taking more risks. Taking that risk, and having the confidence to try something new, is key. I think this is something the IFDA and their upcoming pipeline of events can help nurture.
Leeds – what does the future hold?
What does the city hold – and how can the IFDA help and support the city to become the best foodie destination it can? According to Simon, it’s all about advice and support from those in the know. “Small businesses are always looking for fair, and non-partial, advice.” What the IFDA do, he suggests, is unique: “I don’t think there is anything similar in other cities”. A programme that works with the combined backing of both university and council, alongside some great experts, is certainly not an offering small businesses can hope to take up just anywhere.
I Like Press are looking forward to pushing IFDA into a new chapter,” Simon finishes, “and assisting in laying some solid foundations for great advice and really useful events”.
Cocktails in the City Posted: 31 January
6-7th April 2017: Cocktails in the City
On 6th and 7th April 2017, Leeds Town Hall will be taken over by the festivities surrounding Cocktails In The City, the nation’s leading cocktail event. This two-day event brings pop-ups run by Leeds’ best bars and Leeds’ biggest cocktail lovers under one roof for revelry and new taste sensations!
In Leeds since 2015, this year marks the fifth year of the Cocktails In The City event nationally, which is also celebrating events in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Edinburgh. This year will be particularly special, then, as birthday celebrations join with the cocktail-making frivolities of the event!
Over their first five years, the Cocktails In The City events have partied in five cities across the UK, managing to shake up (or stir, depending on your preference) 92,100 cocktails, for 25,180 cocktail connoisseurs.
The pop-ups onsite will represent some of the city’s best bars. As well as this great mix of pioneering mixologists, the event will provide its guests with exciting and exclusive access to The Crypt, the Victorian Prison Cells and the Clock Tower, as well as more surprising and unique drinking experiences yet to be unveiled! There will be tasting tables, opportunities for guests to blend their own spirits, and opportunities for bartenders and mixologists to really showcase their talents.
Tickets to the event cost £12, and include one cocktail and a cocktail booklet. Cocktails are charged at £6 thereafter. The Leeds event is bound to sell out in 2017.
We all know that good drinks require good food alongside! As an IFDA member, you have the opportunity to be that hallowed vendor at this year’s event; simply email IFDA@leedsbeckett.ac.uk to apply to be one of the four event food vendors, and keep an eye on our social streams - the best will then be chosen to feed hungry cocktail drinkers at the Cocktails In The City event!
Dry January Posted: 31 January
Is Dry January creating a drought in pub and bar culture?
As well as the holier-than-thou mentality (not that we are criticising any abstemious January teetotallers – only those who insist on #DryJanuary #GlowingSkin #NeverFeltBetter hashtags), Dry January can make pub and bar trade suffer even further through an already quiet month.
After a festive period of excess many choose to forego alcohol for the first month of the year. Although lots of research suggests that this period of intense abstinence can lead to an opposite effect (when people return, with a vengeance, to old habits in February), more and more of us choose to try a Dry January.
This propensity for “all or nothing” thinking seems peculiarly British. Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in the Health Sciences department at York University told Discovery News recently that "[i]t would be better to have two alcohol free days each week all year rather than one month abstinence,” a message echoed by Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust. Faddy detoxing is out; overall moderation is in.
Dry January has been a growing campaign of Alcohol Concern since 2011, trying to change the British approach to alcohol. Reportedly 1 in 6 Britons tried a Dry January in 2016, so numbers are going up.
As we predicted in our December blog on trends for Food in 2017, consumers want more booze-free options in pubs – no longer will a warm lemonade suffice as an alcohol-free option. With great mixologists even the most credible breweries now happy to create alcohol-free options (for beers think BrewDog, Mikkeler and Franziskaner), there are more options for people who want to drink socially without feeling they are missing out. With the aforementioned launch of alcohol-free “spirit” brands like Seedlip, the industry is taking notice of a trend for customers who want a special drink without the alcohol. Similarly, a non-alcoholic cocktail doesn’t have to be a Shirley Temple – a good mixologist will enjoy the challenge of replacing the alcohol content with something else.
Figure 1 usage rights - Neil Turner, Flickr
This move, in itself, should bring better news to the pub and bar industry. With UK bingeing down generally from its mammoth peak in 2015, it seems we are slowly developing a propensity for social drinking without the binge-factor which accompanied it for many years. And if people want to meet socially without the booze, the likelihood is they are still going to do it in the pub or bar. A recently released study from Oxford University found that drinking in moderation with friends improves overall wellbeing – these occasions for relaxed conversation left people happier and more satisfied with their lives. It seems unlikely, then, that social meet-ups traditionally associated with alcohol are about to die.
The trade itself is also fighting back. Last year #TryJanuary and #Tryanuary were launched, to urge people into new experiences and choices in bars and pubs in January, and to get them supporting local independent breweries. Both are about novelty, but also about a different level of moderation – not absolute abstinence but low-level drinking, to enjoy and appreciate.
It is worth remembering that Dry January needn’t be a complete washout for the trade – after all, soft drinks make good margins too. It is all about maintaining an aura of being a sociable and comfortable environment, ensuring customers continue to venture into the venue despite their abstinence. The sticky floor and grubby counter may be somewhat obscured by low lighting and beer goggles, but retaining a sober customer means providing a nice atmosphere for social interaction.
Hello Thom Hetherington Posted: 18 January
“There are three things which I get madly passionate about: Great food and drink; passionate entrepreneurs; and the North of England. On that basis getting involved in the IFDA was the easiest thing in the world. I’ve spent twenty years in and around the region’s food and drink industry, but have been particularly take by the independent spirit in Leeds, and the real feeling of community around the foodie scene. No one wants to lose that culture, but the IFDA can offer the advice, support and experienced industry contacts to help the city’s innovative start-ups food and drink start-ups get as far and as fast as possible.”
Food for 2017 Posted: 9 January
Food trends now seem to change even more regularly. Remember the arrival of quinoa? And the impact of every brunch place putting avocado on the menu? Although food fads can be tiresome in themselves, they express a deeper feeling – the profound excitement in the UK food scene and our readiness to try new things!
Long gone are the times of “meat and two veg” as the staple British diet – we now eat our way across cultures, value meats and produce grown or reared well, in the UK, and will pay for new, spectacular and innovative foodie experiences.
Plenty of people in the food industry, from retailers to restaurants to chefs, have been making food predictions for 2017, so we thought we’d join the bandwagon and add our top three.
Vegetarian and vegan options
As we learn more and more about the human impact on the world, we learn that industrial farming and the meat industry are taking a heavy toll on our environment. With livestock and their by-products accounting for over 32,000 MILLION tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, or 51% of total worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, we cannot ignore the impact our food choices have, both on the lives of the animals and on the environment we live in.
As more and more people choose to adhere to vegetarian and vegan diets, there is more and more money going into the industry of meat-free substitutes. That means that, for those of us who do enjoy meat, we can try to adopt a more varied (and often, more healthy) lifestyle by choosing to eat vegan or vegetarian several days a week. “Vegan meat” brands like Beyond Meat are now serving up mouth-watering meat-free alternatives such as its Beyond Burger, and meatless meat options combine to make the vegan option more and more enticing. If we continue to eat meat, it allows us to make meat the celebration it should be; perhaps not a daily staple but a weekly treat.
Goat isn’t a traditional meat cooked in the UK, but we’re predicting it to rear its head on menus all over the UK food scene in 2017. It is very popular in many other national diets and cuisine the world over - from Middle Eastern to Caribbean to Mexican to African to Pakistani cuisines, goat occurs in all sorts of different forms.
As the UK becomes more and more adventurous and keen to explore and enjoy great foods from other cultures around the world, we predict we’ll become more open to this tasty meat, both accepting it on the menus of the cuisines it would traditionally occupy, and adopting it into British dishes too. its gamey flavour is also lower in fat and cholesterol than both lamb and beef.
The revival of the mocktail
No longer do the teetotallers (whether through choice or not) have to endure the Shirley Temple. In 2017, we predict that mixologists throughout the UK will help to elevate non-alcoholic cocktails so that they are as much of a treat as their alcohol-imbued counterparts (or almost as much, anyway). Just because someone has chosen not to drink alcohol doesn’t mean they don’t want to celebrate – something which brands like Seedlip, the world’s first non-alcoholic “spirit” provider understand. Their botanical, apothecary-style spirits are perfect with tonic, or in the mix as a mocktail.
A Few Food Predictions of Our Own Posted: 3 JanuaryHere at the Independent Food and Drink Academy, we see trends alter year on year in the food and drink scene, whether locally in Leeds, nationally or even internationally. We’ve gone out there and forecast a few food predictions of our own for 2017, on both a large- and a small-scale. Whether small Leeds innovations or big national shifts, there’s no doubt our food scene will evolve over the coming twelve months.
1. The importance of locality
Small supermarkets have taught us to shop local again. By opening hundreds of almost “corner-shop”-style supermarket units on every street corner (and charging more for that convenience), the big supermarket chains have re-introduced the idea of “just nipping out” for something locally. No longer do the majority of people commit to a mammoth shop once a week; many are now more used to spending ten minutes of their lunch break popping into a local supermarket to pick up something for dinner that night.
The Indie Food and Drink Academy prediction (and hope) for 2017, therefore, is that the fall-out of this return to more “traditional” shopping habits will drive consumers back towards the small local specialists that the supermarkets put out of business in the first place, and they may once again have the public support to make them viable.
2. The value of experience over things
Technologist Kevin Kelly has heralded a fundamental shift caused by the maturing of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Realities* – that an Internet of information will be superseded by an Internet of experience. He suggests that digital experiences will be valued equally to experiences we undertake in reality. We don’t know about all that, but can certainly agree on one thing - scarcity has always defined luxury. The fact that your coat is one-off, made from hand-combed Mongolian goat chin hair, or that your Beluga caviar is from fish so critically endangered that only the rich could afford to have them caught and their roe harvested, meant that you had wealth, and wealth gave you access to goods off-limits to normal people. Kelly suggests that we have now been swamped by the material. Now that a person could “have it all”, in terms of the material possessions needed for a comfortable, even luxurious, life, our sights have become trained on experiences; experiences which help to define who we are.
We are already seeing a similar change in the offline purchasing habits of the population – Millennials in particular are becoming far more likely to spend money on (and therefore prize) experiences over things. A great tasting menu from a new restaurant and its resident up-and-coming chef says that you have your ear to the ground, are knowledgeable on food trends, and have “taste”. In a world of rip-offs and high street copies, that beautiful black leather handbag no longer does the same.
In terms of the food and drink industry, this could have real implications, as more and more people consider splashing out on a great meal by a renowned chef (or even fantastic ingredients to cook at home) as opposed to a new watch, say, or new handbag. The experience will become a status symbol.
*Don’t know your Augmented from your Virtual Reality? This video explains it all.
1. Formality comes to Leeds
The previous topic, on the newfound desire to spend money on experiences over things, leads us to predict that more high-end eateries will pop up all over Leeds in 2017. The Leeds population got firmly behind all of the indie food initiatives which showcased street food and informal eating from all over the world, but Leeds is only just beginning to see a resurgence in more formal dining.
Matt Dix, co-founder of Leeds Indie Food Festival, agrees with us:
"We've seen Leeds explode with informal, unfussy, pop-up-style eating over the past few years - I predict we'll see some openings in 2017 to match the desire for a few more high-end eatery experiences, started by the opening of restaurants like Ox Club and Iberica."
With Michael O’Hare’s Man Behind the Curtain bringing a Michelin star to the neighbourhood, Leeds just upped the ante on memorable fine dining experiences.
2. Awareness about food waste
People are becoming more and more aware of the problems of mass production and mass consumption – and the packaging, and waste, which comes as part and parcel of this phenomenon. We predict that people will continue to grow more and more conscientious in 2017 about their food waste, and we think that, as well as great news for the world, this is great news for popular interest in cookery, too – because to not waste food, you have to cook it!
People are more conscientious (“what can I do with this egg white when I only need the yolks? What can I do with this broccoli stalk when I only needed the florets?”) and this will lead, we think, to experimentation in the kitchen. Junk Food Project kitchens and cafés have sprung up across the country, with Leeds’ own Armley and Moortown Junk-tion locations, and pop-up junk food cafés receiving lots of support.
A year in food and drink…a round-up of Leeds 2016 Posted: 19 DecemberIf you’ve lived in Leeds all your life (or, even, more than three or four years), you will have noticed the dramatic change the Leeds food and drink scene has undertaken over that time.
Long gone are the days when the only food establishments littering the centre were faceless national or international chains – Leeds has come out fighting for its prodigious Independent talent, and continued to put its money where its mouth is in terms of supporting these businesses and keeping the Independent food and drink scene alive.
2016 has only seen continued investment, both financial and emotional, in Leeds’ great food scene. 2016 may, in fact, have seen Leeds take the crown as Independent food star of the North, as it strode into the Michelin Guide with not one but eleven “Michelin Recommends” entries in the 2017 Guide (alongside The Man Behind The Curtain’s Michelin Star).
Bundobust photographer Tom Joy
It is not only formal (and high-end) eating experiences, like The Man Behind The Curtain, that Leeds has championed, though. In fact, many of the Michelin Recommends entries were from the more informal and fun eating environments Leeds has nurtured, such as Bundobust. No need to make a song and dance about cutlery and silver service – Bundobust provides throwaway cutlery and paper bowls. It just proves that respect from the food establishment is no longer beholden to the social airs and graces which traditionally marked out a “good restaurant”.
2016 saw a massive change to the Kirkgate Market end of town, as the Victoria shopping centre, complete with a long-awaited John Lewis, opened in October. With the re-development of Kirkgate Market happening just before, the hope is that the injection of retail customers into the nearby Victoria arcades will remind shoppers of the amazing standards set by the Kirkgate Market, and get even more people buying their groceries from the independent stalls within.
The Leeds Indie Food Festival saw its second year in 2016. Running through most of May, the festival saw almost double the events from the previous year, as new pop-ups, suppliers and national names from the food and drink scene got on board to support Independent food and drink in Leeds.
Rita's Brunch at 2016 Leeds Indie Food Fest photographer: Tom Joy
We also saw the first Leeds Beer Week in late summer, with more than one hundred events over ten days, all in the name of one drink – and beer is a drink Leeds does spectacularly well.
The beer scene is in great health nationally, but CAMRA’s July 2016 real ale census, compared to the 2014 figures, found that in Leeds:
• Bars offering real ale went up from 66 to 80.
• Real ale lines available went from 300 to 372.
• The number of different real ales went from 189 to 211.
• Bars with six or more real ales went from 25 to 29.
Ham & Friends December pop-up
Meanwhile, pop-ups remain fit and healthy in Leeds. Whilst some convert to permanent venues, some continue to flit around hosts. Leeds' independent food businesses have continued to support each other, and keep their offering fresh, by hosting pop-ups or takeovers in their own premises. The end of November and December 2016 alone see and have seen, amongst others:
- Noise of Strangers take over the Corn Exchange for a limited, ticketed supper club.
- Balcombe & Smith serve up unusual and overlooked grub at Sheaf Street Cafeteria.
- Homage2Fromage celebrating melted cheeses at several supper clubs at the Mill Kitchen.
- Ham & Friends (Friends of Ham’s new venture) launch a December pop-up, featuring a wine and Raclette bar and plenty of food hamper-filling goodies prior to their official opening in early 2017.
2016 has seen the Leeds Independent food scene go from strength to strength, as Leodians express pride in, and support for, locally-created talent.
Have a very Indie Christmas: An Indie inside guide to staying healthy over Christmas Posted: 16 DecemberWe all know that running a business is hard work; all the more so for independently-run businesses which are just starting up. Combine that with this festive time of year, when the food and drink industry is typically over-run with holiday makers wanting to enjoy a meal out, and any indie business owner is likely to be run into the ground.
The general public love to eat and drink out over the festive season - according to a 2015 YouGov poll, 72% of respondents were set to eat out over the Christmas fortnight. And it isn’t only the business owners who can face a hard time over the Christmas period. With more and more indie staff, bar tenders, café workers and waiting staff alike, committing to their jobs for much longer than a decade ago (when bartending or waitressing was considered a stepping stone to something else, rather than a profession in itself), they are more likely to face Christmas burn out too.
Director of mixology and education for Mezcal El Silencio Marcos Tello has noted this burn out, and tried to combat it. He has observed illnesses are varied as tennis elbow, RSI and pinched sciatic nerves more and more frequently in bar staff. Being on your feet all day behind a bar can also lead you to not eating properly, the strain of repetitive motions and dehydration.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a few tips to keep any business owner or worker alike, in the food and drink sector, sane and healthy over this manic time!
1. Stay hydrated
Christmas spirit (and spirits) means that the soft drink can be woefully overlooked this season. You may be on your feet for a 12-hour shift – so remember that your body needs water. Take that break now and don’t feel guilty because two minutes taken out to steal a slug of water is what you need to stay on your feet (plus it is a MUCH smaller inconvenience, for you or the business generally, than if you drive yourself into the ground and need a sick day before Christmas).
2. Stay active
It’s all too easy to let exercise fall by the roadside when it’s dark and cold outside and you are working all the hours god sends. Even if it’s a matter of Googling a good ten-minute stretch or basic yoga practice when you get home, that bit of exercise will be a stress release as well as a much-needed stretch for your body and muscles. To get your heart rate going, get off the bus a stop early or try to walk a short distance that you’d normally drive – your waistline, and your energy levels, will thank you for it.
3. Combat that hangover
Though it’s inadvisable to go for it when you’re strung out and working extra hard, it’s all too easy to succumb. If you’ve fallen foul of the booze, you’re going to have to see the day through, but some tips include keeping your water levels high, eating something sugary to get those trembles under control and getting something into your system – a watery broth is a great way to get vitamins and minerals back into your depleted body and are easier for your fragile body to digest!
4. Keep eating, healthily
Although cracking through the day on a diet of mince pies, Christmas biscuits and festive chocolates might seem a good way to treat yourself at the time, make sure you’re getting those much-needed vitamins and minerals into your system. Clementines feel almost as festive as a mince pie; so make sure to keep your vitamin C levels up by indulging on these. When it’s your turn to bring snacks in, bring popcorn and nuts instead of crisps and biscuits, so that you are getting some protein for energy and fewer wasted calories. Even if you think you’ll be busy, make or buy a pot of hearty soup to keep you going over lunchtime so you’re less tempted to succumb to fatty snacks. This means you’ll get some much-needed vegetables into your diet, too.
5. Sleep, sleep, sleep
Shifts can become erratic and extra-long at Christmas time, interfering with your natural sleep patterns and curtailing the amount of hours you might normally hope to get curled up in bed. Work to live, don’t live to work – remember that this is supposed to be fun (at least for your customers) and trying to keep light-hearted and stress-free yourself will actually be better for you, too. De-stress after a long shift by taking a bath or reading a book – caffeine and alcohol won’t help you sleep. If your feet are heavy after a long shift, lie on the floor with them propped on the wall a foot higher than you are, before bed, to drain some of the blood away so they won’t feel so heavy and sore.
Overall, keep happy and healthy over the Christmas period, and remember – you aren’t just there to provide other people with a fun festive period, you’re supposed to enjoy it too! Staying healthy will enable you to spend those precious hours you have free, with friends and family, having a great time, rather than tucked up in bed with a cold and flu tablet!
Pop up Business Cafe Posted: 2 November
The Popup will be open from 9.00 - 12.30pm and will have local experts waiting to give practical answers to your questions on a range of business topics. Totally informal, non-sales, turn up when you like, leave when you like, come back again when you feel like it. It's a cafe, not a conference.
Oh, and the advice is FREE!
So, come along and chat with an expert at the informal drop in sessions throughout the morning, for genuinely free business advice. Ask questions of people who know about:
1. Accountancy and tax
4. Social Media
7. Starting up
8. Growing your business
9. New Markets
Just so you know, if the event is busy, a booking system will operate to give you 20 minutes with an expert. When you arrive, please identify who you would like to talk to, and think about the questions you really want answers to so you can make the most of your time.
Book your place here
Date and Time: Tue 22 November 2016 at 09:00 – 12:30 GMT
Location: Sunnybank Mills,83-85 Town Street, Farsley, LS28 5UJ
20% off exclusive training and development opportunity Posted: 28 October
Could this be an opportunity for you?! Posted: 27 September
The Independent Food and Drink Academy are expanding our team and are looking for a dedicated foodie to join us. We are looking for a food and drink consultant with expertise in training, events and crucially independent food and drink to join the IFDA project team. The Food and Drink Consultant will be responsible for working with the team to drive the strategy and focus of the membership.
Special Offer to IFDA Members Posted: 26 September
We have a special offer for our Independent Food and Drink Academy members to have a 1-1 session with our Business Advisor, Coach and Mentor; Gail Cherry. You can book a 1 hour slot with Gail to discuss your business, challenges, issues, opportunities and benefit from a private consultation focused on you and your business. We have a number of dates running in October, November, December and its first come first serve. We have 24 sessions in total and you can book more up to 3 sessions, 1 per month… if you’re quick.
October 1 - 1 sessions will be hosted at The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ
November 1 - 1 sessions will be hosted at The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ
December 1 - 1 sessions will be hosted at the Dock 29, The Boulevard Dock, The Blvd, Leeds LS10 1PZ
Gail Cherry is a facilitator, mentor and coach to entrepreneurs and since 2003 has helped more than 500 people to effectively design, align and start their own successful business.
Gail likes to think that she has the knack of being able to take what might seem like, to an entrepreneur, a dull yet essential business task and turn it into an interesting, exciting and engaging process. She is known for taking coaching into the outdoors, and for her: likeability, empathy, integrity, credibility, patience & diligence…
…and for supporting and challenging people to their best questions. In short, she helps people learn new things to work through the challenges of starting and running a new, early stage or established business; the right things for them.
To book your place(s) please follow the link
IFDA Members' Business Health Checks Posted: 23 September
IFDA are hosting our first members only Business Health Check ‘Speed Dating’ session at Manahatta. The concept of this exciting event is to give your business access to a range of professional business advisors who bring a broad range of experience and expertise on; food and drink, FMCG, start up’s, funding, marketing, branding etc. You will spend up to 20 minutes with each advisor talking through your business plan (if you have one, please bring this with you on the day) and drawing on their experience to help you get a fresh perspective on your business plans, vision and identity. Whether you’re a start up or established business using our experts as a soundboard will provide an invaluable and insightful experience to businesses of any size.
You can choose from 2 sessions:
9.30-10.00- Arrival, Registration and Coffees.
10.00-12.00 - Your 1-1 with our panel of Business Mentors, Coach and Advisors
13.30-14.00pm - Arrival, Registration and Coffees.
14.00-16.00pm - Your 1-1 with our panel of Business Mentors, Coach and Advisors
In a career spanning over 30 years, before joining the public sector Sue has owned and run her own small businesses in the UK and abroad in Germany and the Canary Islands, in areas such as European travel, print and design, hospitality, and network sales of fair trade essential oils from around the world. Sue graduated BA (Hons) 1st class in Environment, Leisure and Heritage Management from the University of Leeds in 1998 and is a member of the Institute of Place Management.
Specialising in place management from 1998 onwards, she was the first City Manager of Ripon in North Yorkshire, bidding successfully for SRB funding for a £13 million town centre regeneration project. Moving into the public sector, Sue worked in Economic Development for North Yorkshire County Council specialising in support for rural business and becoming the Council’s social enterprise champion. She was a senior consultant for private sector consultancy ECOTEC before joining Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council in December 2005 as their town centre and markets manager, undertaking a major redesign and investment in the famous Stockton markets
Amrit Choda ‘Business Growth Manager at LEP Growth Service’
Amrit is passionate about innovative business support, making it easy for people to do business together and develop effective, mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships. She has over 20 years’ experience of project management, business support and development, working with a range of organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors.
Amrit played the lead role in working with the Ahead Partnership to set up the Business Support Local programme in LS28, where she worked with local businesses to develop stronger, more successful business networks as well as better links between the local community, employers and schools. The programme also encouraged wider engagement in local civic life, involving local businesses in developing employability skills of school pupils, creating apprenticeships, supporting community and cultural projects and improving the environment.
The LEP Growth Service aims to help small and medium sized businesses in Leeds City Region to develop and grow. Businesses based in Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield or York, can access a wide range of support and funding through the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and its network of partners to help realise their growth ambitions.
David Baggaley ‘Economic Development Programme Lead at Leeds City Council’
David leads on SME business engagement and in delivering the LEP Growth Service in Leeds. Funded jointly by local authorities and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the service is designed to link SMEs in Leeds and the wider city region into the wide range of business support available to support their growth plans.
He has worked closely with companies in the manufacturing sector and with UTC Leeds, the new university technical college which opened in September 2016. UTC Leeds has been set up to bridge the skills gap in the sector and promote careers in engineering and manufacturing industry to young people.
His professional background is in marketing and communications management, with specialist expertise in editorial design, online communications, public relations and event management. He also has extensive experience of inward investment marketing and project management.
David is a graduate of both the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University, has a Masters degree from the University of York and the CIM Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing.
Gail Cherry ‘Professional Coach at Torchlight Coaching’
Gail Cherry is a facilitator,mentor and coach to entrepreneurs and since 2003 has helped more than 500 people to effectively design, align and start their own successful business.
Gail likes to think that she has the knack of being able to take what might seem like, to an entrepreneur, a dull yet essential business task and turn it into an interesting, exciting and engaging process. She is known for taking coaching into the outdoors, and for her: likeability, empathy, integrity, credibility, patience & diligence…
…and for supporting and challenging people to their best questions. In short, she helps people learn new things to work through the challenges of starting and running a new, early stage or established business; the right things for them.
Nick Copeland ‘Food Impresario’
Nick is a brand marketeer, writer and food impresario with experience in businesses and events both big and small.
Nick’s career began in the 90s, working in publishing after spending time as a head chef in a Brighton Theatre restaurant. He moved to Leeds in 1997 and worked as a freelance writer working with designers and agencies all over the region. Over a period of almost two decades he has worked with big brands like Silver Cross, Asda, Boots, Lloyds, as well as smaller local brands such as Debbie and Andrews sausages.
In 2009 he branched out into food and drink promotion, working with Sue Burgess at Leeds Kirkgate Market on The Source – a pop-up stall where local artisan makers and bakers could trial their ideas, test their products and see if the market was the place for them. This resulted in a number of high profile new stalls coming into the market, and a host of new businesses finding their feet. He has also been involved in Leeds Food Festival, helping launch the popular Handmade in Yorkshire element and the World Feast event on Briggate. He has also helped run events such as Cornucopia Underground and is co-instigator of the popular Homage2Fromage cheese club.
To find out more about Nick follow the link.
Simon Fogal, 'Director I Like Press and Co-Founder Leeds Indie Food'
"A Leeds local who is passionate about the city, he has become a champion of new business start-ups, food and beer advocate for the city and runs Leeds Indie Food, whilst making beats in I Like Trains"
Simon Fogal leads on festivals, social and specialist PR for I Like Press having co-founded the company properly in 2012. In 2014 he co-founded Leeds Indie Food and works across the city supporting events like Live at Leeds, OnRoundhay, Beacons Metro and Slam Dunk.
Ever the entrepreneur, Fogal studied at Leeds College of Music and has been a touring musician for over 10 years. Having gained experience on the road with how the music industry worked. Fogal has since been involved in music events, promoting gigs, tour managing and booking shows. It wasn’t till 2009 when he needed to work on his own bands promo, he joined forces with the other Simon (Glacken) that ILP became an idea and reality. Gaining knowledge on communications at various jobs, 2012 saw I Like Press receive investment and start working within other sectors, with Food and Drink high on the agenda. Fogal has been part of the growth of Belgrave Music Hall, Bundobust, Headrow House and Northern Monk Brew Co to name a few. Leeds Indie Food came about as a need for the City to do something different in shouting about the food offer. Leeds Indie Food is one of the fastest growing festivals in the country. The first year attracted 14,000 people and the second year 22,000, plans are a foot for LIF17.
LAST WEEK TO BOOK - York Food and Drink Conference - September 28th Posted: 23 September
We are now just a few days away from York’s first Food and Drink Conference. We have a great line up of speakers and there will no doubt be lots of tips and experiences for people in food and drink industries. With tickets still available it would be great if you were able to share the event to your clients and contacts whom you think may benefit from it. For tweets please use the #YorkFarm2fork.
Come and network with us over lunch as I would love to see you there.
Manjit's Kitchen ‘’Networking and Meet the Owner’’ event Posted: 14 September
Our first ‘’Networking and Meet the Owner event’’ at Manjit’s Kitchen in the new Leeds Kirkgate Market Food Court was a brilliant success! On 6th September we welcomed businesses from across the City region to join us for breakfast and sample delicious spicy egg parathas and Indian fruit salad and warm masala chai tea. We listened to the inspiring tale from Manjit’s Kitchen from conception to where they are now and some of the challenges and successes along the way. We were joined by 15 hungry businesses including Golden Balls Kitchen, ParmStar, Bloom Bakers and Smak! it was great to hear the sharing of ideas and inspiration.
‘’The IFDA breakfast network meeting was an opportunity to invite people involved in food businesses to our cafe and to sample some of our breakfast options. We served Spicy Egg Parathas, Indian fruit salad and Masala Chai. Small business owners like us can sometimes feel we are on like we are on our own, so opportunities to network and share ideas and knowledge are valuable. The meeting held in the market focused talk about the market and our experiences here. People were taking talking about the market and the potential opportunities for trading here. We look forward to next network meeting.’’
Manjit's Kitchen, September, 2016.
If you would like to host our next IFDA breakfast event please get in touch to learn more about what this entails firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new Channel 4 food series is looking for restaurateurs to take part Posted: 13 September
The series will focus on secret/hidden restaurants and cafes and also interesting or unusual restaurants that are in the process of being built or converted.
Are you about to undertake a restaurant/cafe build or conversion that we can follow for a few weeks? We’re looking for someone who is perhaps converting an old barge in to a bistro or something really unusual into a food truck or even a food truck vendor who is setting down roots for the first time – particularly if their premises are in an really quirky or strange building. We're looking for projects that are due to be completed or near completion by December this year.
If you think you might the bill or are undertaking a really innovative project then we'd love to hear from you soon.
Please contact email@example.com
Foodies, you maybe interested in an upcoming event held by Feed Leeds Posted: 7 September
Leeds: City of Food Culture?
An opportunity to shape the Leeds Culture Strategy to include sustainable food #Leeds2023 also Report on Leeds Food Audit and Launch of Leeds Food Partnership. Come and share your concerns, ideas, suggestions and experience.
Thursday, 29 September 2016 from 18:00 to 21:00
Maurice Keyworth Lecture Theatre - Maurice Keyworth Building, Clarendon Rd / Moorland Rd, Leeds, LS6 1AN (The Old Grammar School Buidling) Moorland Rd, Leeds, Leeds, LS6 1AN
Innovation Network Event - 'Cyber Security: Impact and Opportunities' Posted: 5 September
This event, run by Leeds Beckett University and Digital Catapult Yorkshire, will be hosted by the Yorkshire Post on Wednesday 28th September from 08:30 - 10:30.
Aimed at SME businesses who are looking to innovate and grow, the event will provide you with an introduction to the topic of Cyber Security, addressing the key issues and opportunities.
Keynote speakers from AQL, Lloyds Banking Group and the Cybercrime and Security Innovation (CSI) Centre at Leeds Beckett University will be addressing issues ranging from: how Cybercrime can affect SME businesses; to discussing how to find innovative solutions to protect your business from cybercrime; as well as exploring opportunities that are arising from this new sector.
Innovation Network events are a great opportunity to gain new business contacts and to engage with the University, Digital Catapult and media partners. This event is free to attend and refreshments will be provided.
If you would like further information, please contact Jenn Coates on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0113 812 5987.
Leeds Kirkgate Market Fresh Food and Produce Retail Opportunity Posted: 2 September
Our IFDA partners at Leeds City Council have a great opportunity for you!
They are looking for expressions of interest from food retailers, in the refurbished fresh food and produce area in the Market.
Recently voted Britain’s Favourite Market 2016, and awarded the Trip Advisor Award of Excellence in 2014 and 2015. The biggest Indoor Market in Europe has a large and loyal following on social media with over 20,000 Twitter followers and 6,000 likes on Facebook as well as its own dedicated customer facing website, www.leedsmarkets.co.uk. Especially important in a city with over 37,000 students at our 3 universities, a significant AB/ABC1 catchment area comprising Leeds city centre and wealthy surrounding areas such as Harrogate, Otley, Ilkley and York.
The launch of a new, dedicated food hall presents a completely new concept for the market. For the first time in its history, bringing together meat, fish, game and other fresh food produce in one area. Including all the well known fishmongers, butchers, seafood and greengrocery units. An ideal place for the public to visit, not only to sample all of the local fresh produce, but also to get a taste of foods from around the world.
The Market is now expanding the area available to food retailers, and are looking for interesting, different and unique offers to compliment the traders who already trade there.
All units will be located in the recently refurbished Food and Beverage area. The Market is offering:
- Low risk, easy in/out terms
- Affordable rents for high-profile, city centre location
- Assignable lease
- High specification food units – walk in and trade.
The opening in October 2016 of the brand new Victoria Gate Shopping experience and the biggest John Lewis store outside of London, literally next door is sure to boost footfall, adding to the 8.5 million customers that already come through the doors every year
Please register your details to receive more information.
The attached PDF will give you all the Information you need to know.
IFDA Partners Posted: 17 August
Our wonderful IFDA partners at Leeds City Council have a great opportunity for you. They are looking for expressions of interest from street food mobilers for their outside catering pitches at Kirkgate Market.
The indoor market proudly hosts Zm Zm Bakery, Yorkshire Wrap.Co, Tea Pot, Jenny’s Jerk Chicken, Manjit’s Kitchen and Banh & Mee. Street Food is widely available and is greeted enthusiastically by the people of Leeds. The Market now wants to attract similar quality of vendors and high end mobilers for its outside catering pitches.
The opening in October 2016 of the brand new Victoria Gate Shopping experience and the biggest John Lewis store outside of London, literally next door is sure to boost footfall, adding to the 8.5 million customers that already come through the doors every year.
If you are interested please contact email@example.com or contact the Markets information centre on 0113 378 1950
Hammerson Posted: 15 August
Free Breakfast and Networking Posted: 2 August
Last free chance to taste IFDA before you join!
Don't miss out and register your place for the last chance to attend IFDA Breakfast and Networking event at Manjit's Kitchen.
Date and Time: 6 September 2016, 09:00 - 10:30
Venue: Manjit's Kitchen, Leeds Kirkgate Market Food Court, 28-34 George St, Leeds, LS2 7HY
Manjit is a legend in street food, not just in Leeds either. Now in her first ever permanent unit in Kirkgate Market’s new food kitchen, Manjit will talk about her journey into street food, from her early beginnings to the fame she enjoys today. Attendees will be treated to a delicious Indian breakfast prepared by the lady herself!
Register now: firstname.lastname@example.org
Careers Fair Catering Posted: 30 June
We have an exciting opportunity for IFDA members to register their interest in providing catering for Leeds Beckett University upcoming Annual Careers Fair hosted at the University on Wednesday 26 October 2016. The fair will take place at James Graham Building, Headingley campus, from 11:00 – 3:00pm, and hopes to attract over 1000 students from across the university. Allocation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. There are four spaces available.
In order for IFDA members to attend we will need information on the following items:
- What type of food will be served e.g. hot or cold
- Company must be registered with the Local Authority
- Need to see last Food Safety Inspection and a Scores on the Doors Rating of 4* or 5*
- If preparing food on site companies would also need to provide evidence that their staff had completed a recognised Food Safety Course
- Dependant on what companies want to do on the day an appropriate Risk Assessment
There will be no booking charge for the members to attend the day.
If you are interested please contact Richard Stringer on R.Stringer@leedsbeckett.ac.uk or 0113 81 25664 by Friday 12 August 2016.
New Academy to boost Leeds independent food scene Posted: 26 April
Independent food traders in Leeds and the surrounding areas will soon be able to access a unique business service - the Independent Food and Drink Academy (IFDA) – a joint venture run by Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council (LCC), and supported by Leeds Business Improvement District (BID).
The IFDA, was launched on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 April at the Belgrave Music Hall and Trinity Kitchen, and provides advice, support and training to small independent enterprises, from street food traders to established small businesses. Its objective is to help to professionalise, sustain and grow the independent food and drink sector in the Leeds city region by providing a blend of contextualised learning and development opportunities.