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Recruiting Staff and Keeping Them

Held on the 19th September at The Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds, we were blessed with a winning combination of beer, pizza from Dough Boys Pizza and four great speakers.

First up, Ali Davies, employment consultant at ADHR, gave an overview of the logistics of the hiring and firing process. She gave an insight into the legal do’s and don’ts and the best ways to set up employing someone, from advertising the role to offering them the position. The group discussed hiring friends and whether the way people work has changed in recent times.

Andrew Critchett, founder of Ground Up Coffee, gave a heart-warming and honest presentation about his own struggle with mental health in the food and drink environment. He spoke about the key indicators used by professionals that employers should look out for when considering the wellbeing of their employees.  Andrew then spoke about the purpose behind Ground Up Coffee and his ‘Over Stigma Over Coffee’ campaign, as well as good practice examples that he employs for his staff to help prevent burnout and other mental health issues.

Chris Impett, General Manager of Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, spoke about staff progression in a company that promotes from within. Chris explained that he has seen over 120 staff recruited in the 4 years that he has been GM, some wanting a job for now and some are looking something more than that. As such, he has seen the value in promoting and creating roles from within in order to retain and further develop good staff.

The evening finished with David Bassett from The Leadership Centre at Leeds Business School who brought the discussion around to work ethics. He spoke about the use of feedback and utilising a coaching style to enrich and retain staff.

The forum provided an opportunity to share practice and experiences and discuss these important issues – the practical aspects of employing people, encouraging a culture that supports well-being, developing a talent strategy and leadership style that enables people to reach their potential are all key elements in the development of successful and sustainable businesses.
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Re-launch of the Independent Food and Drink Academy

Olga Munroe, Head of the Retail Institute at Leeds Business School welcomed business leaders, academics and others to the re-launch of the Independent Food and Drink Academy (IFDA).

IFDA provides a forum for small independent enterprises from street-food traders to established businesses to share knowledge, experiences and information to help the business community thrive and grow. Olga highlighted the importance of the sector to the economy which according to the Food & Drink Federation is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, contributing £28.2bn annually and employing 400,000 people. It is a highly competitive and growing sector where 96% of the businesses are smaller businesses that play an important role in developing the attractiveness of a place and driving footfall in mainstream retail environments.

The event was hosted at North Brewing Co where owner Christian Townsley provided a candid and humorous assessment of some of the lessons still being learnt while running a multi-award winning, growing businesses. Ben Barker from Artemis Brew, talked passionately about responsibly sourced coffee and the challenges of managing fluctuating demand for products over time. Neil Campbell, founder of Smak! spoke enthusiastically about Polish food and his journey from street food vendor to café bistro. He challenged the myth of a simple transition from street-food to restaurant and highlighted the time, commitment and problem solving skills required to make a success of it. David Baggaley from Economic Development at Leeds City Council drew attention to the support that is currently available for local businesses, particularly for those involved in business to business markets and seeking to introduce new technology to improve productivity.

A key message emerging from the event was that the strength or innovative nature of your product will only get you so far if the services you provide fall short of customer expectations or you are unable to access the business related knowledge and skills necessary to sustain the endeavour.

People - customers, suppliers, your workforce, accountants, lawyers, specialist advisors, family and others who share your vision are a key to success.
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IFDA Annual Round up Posted: 19 December 2017

2017 has been kind to Leeds. We soared into fifth in the list of Lonely Planet’s Best Cities in Europe, our economy has out-performed London since the launch of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative in 2014, and in August the YEP wrote that we are on the brink of a new era of prosperity. 

We’ve felt all of this citywide aspiration and hard work at the IFDA, too. 

This year we’ve seen amazing speakers brought in, in conversation, lecture and panel-style events with our members, as well as discussing a diverse range of topics facing new independent food and drink businesses, pioneered by world-renowned Thom Hetherington. Our members networking events have allowed Leeds independents to grow and learn from each others’ successes (as well as mistakes), and cemented the unusual bond between independent foodies that Leeds fosters.

Here’s our annual round-up…as you can see, we’ve been busy!

January saw a consultation with the brains behind Victoria Gate and John Lewis, held at the Tetley. We discussed working with mammoth companies, and the relationship between those big brands and independents. 

Our February networking event, held at Headrow House’s Ox Club, allowed members to get up-close and personal with stellar Ox Club chef, Ben Davy – the man behind the Michelin recommendations and Ox Club’s driving force. As well as talking menus and provenance, Ben went into menu writing, and even fired up their famous solid-fuel grill for a demo.


March saw Business Health Checks at Manahatta. This second, ‘speed-dating’ style event allowed members to access professional business advisors for expertise across the board, from funding to marketing to branding and beyond.

Our March members event, at Sela Bar, talked festival and event catering, ahead of the busy summer season. Our four speakers had on the ground knowledge of events catering, from Trinity Kitchen right up to the big dog – Glastonbury.

April saw the launch of our IFDA forum series. We kicked off by discussing Leeds: “Past, Present and Progress” with four speakers – Jamie Campbell from CGA Peach, Lucy Noone from Allied London, Martin Wolstonescroft from Arc Inspirations and Mark Morris from the ever-successful D&D London. Lively discussion and debate ensued as the panellists chatted Leeds ecology and the great city’s USPs.

The May networking event, held at The Brunswick, was in collaboration with Adam Smith, founder of the nationally acclaimed The Real Junk Food Project. They spoke about the initiative’s success and how to manage collaborations.

June saw our second forum: ‘Not the Menu and the Wine List but the Licence and the Lease’. This got into the nitty gritty of business – the deep, dark stuff that can lead even the passionate foodie into high waters and inhibit success. Held at Northern Monk Brewing Co., the event saw speakers from Hawksmoor and North Bar, as well as a range of panellists from the food industry and the HR, property and legal industries, discussing HR, recruitment, bureaucracy, regulations and paperwork – the fine detail that keeps a business afloat.

July saw another Members’ Business Health Check at Manahatta. The event allows members to spend up to twenty minutes with each expert advisor, allowing you to truly obtain professional expertise without having to foot the bill for an individual consultant.

July’s networking event, entitled “We Eat With Our Eyes”, was held at Bundobust, most instagrammed spot in Leeds. We spoke to Bundobust co-founder Marko Husak on all things aesthetic, including how to take the best shots for social media and how to make the most of them online.

The August networking event was held at Ham & Friends. It explained the trials and tribulations husband and wife couple Claire and Kitch went through in opening this, the third of the Friends of Ham family of venues, in the wonderful location of Leeds’ Grand Arcade. There was also a complimentary wine and cheese pairing event with Ham & Friends’ resident cheese buffs and IFDA members, George & Joseph.

September saw the third IFDA forum event: “Tech Disruption: Data to Delivery”. Tech experts and foodies combined, as we saw Dan Hope of Manchester pop-up dining experience Firebird Hope talking about his favourite indie business apps, as well as Applied Futurist Tom Cheesewright talking business futures and the 5-10 year forecast, alongside speakers from Deliveroo, Xero and First10.

October was the final forum in the series, entitled “Lifestyle, Longterm or Flip?” This forum delved into your business forecasting – where is your business going? What is your dream? What is your exit strategy? After all, it’s hard to plan the journey if you don’t know the endpoint. The forum discussed how to create a sustainable business, whether to scale-up or sell, and whether to take on a non-executive director. Speakers included IFDA member and Leeds success story Bundobust, the ever entertaining James Douglas, Reds True Barbequeand the expertise of Private Equity consultant Kieran Lawton and Restaurant Consultant Ian Donald. 

November was networking with Café 164 at Munro House. The husband and wife team Ellie and Matthew, who stand behind Café 164, will tell members about the running of their successful café and gallery, running now for 6 years.
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Five Takeaways from IFDA Forum 4: Lifestyle: Long-term or Flip?  Posted: 18 October 2017

The 17 October saw the fourth and final IFDA forum of 2017, entitled Lifestyle: Long-term or Flip? Speakers Tom Roseff (Armstrong Watson), Marko Husak (Bundobust) and James Douglas (Red’s True Barbecue) along with host Jamie Campbell (CGA Peach) and panellists Iain Donald (Individual Restaurant Company) and Kieran Lawton (Palatine Private Equity LLP) brought their knowledge and insight to bear on business strategy in the food and drink industry and what to take into consideration when scaling up and managing various sites across several different locations. 

Jamie Campbell, director at data and research consultancy CGA Peach, opened the forum with a brief but in-depth presentation on the confidence that both big and small businesses have in market growth (you can download Jamie’s presentation here). Tom Roseff then spoke about planning your business’s growth and exit strategy, as well as flagging common issues and obstacles which businesses often face when scaling up. Marko Husak and James Douglas told us about their journeys in setting up Bundobust and Red’s True Barbecue respectively, including their transition from working behind the bar or on the door to managing the perhaps ‘boring’ but vital parts of running a business. 

Iain Donald and Kieran Lawton contributed to the panel discussion with further advice on the importance of staying on top of the administrative and financial side of things. 

We’ve summarised the top five “takeaways” from forum four below.

1. Time to get planning.

Tom Roseff highlighted that entrepreneurs are steered by passion, however, when embarking on a business plan you must address the question of whether you want to achieve growth and eventually, an exit. Be proactive in your planning, as this will help when it comes to the all-important jump of scaling up and expanding your business. Be clear on what your objectives are and remember that lawyers and accountants are there to advise you on how to reach those goals.  

2. Constantly review your business.
Following on from Tom Roseff’s earlier point, embarking on an ongoing review of your business will ensure that the decisions you make are ultimately, bringing you closer to your desired objectives. Iain Donald reminded owners of multi-site businesses to constantly audit every aspect of each site. Alongside this, remember that the hospitality industry is a ‘people’ business and as an owner, you are responsible for ensuring that both new and existing staff are regularly trained. Marko Husak highlighted how all his chefs are initially trained at the original Leeds site (before moving over to Bundobust’s second site in Manchester) as it is a key part in teaching them to understand the core of the brand, as well as ensuring that the consistency in all dishes is being replicated across both sites. Don’t let weak management be the obstacle that gets in the way of scaling up and eventually, selling your business.  

3. Surround yourself with the right team.
When you are a small team with one site, as an owner, you are in control of every aspect of the business. When you scale up, however, you need to be able to trust other people with the same responsibilities; writing an operations manual is key. If your business is in the phase of starting the exit process, make sure you have a solid deal team that consists of choice advisors; from solicitors and accountants, to friends and family, it is good to surround yourself with people who have the knowledge and understanding of certain situations. 

4. Think about potential investors. 
As highlighted by Tom Roseff, ask yourself the question: “Is it a business that a buyer would want?” Again, this is where planning for growth is so important, as it can determine whether your business ends up becoming profitable, sustainable, innovative and mainstream or niche. James Douglas encouraged owners to follow up with people who are enthusiastic about the brand; anyone who loves your brand and is on board with your concept, could be a potential investor. When it comes to investment, James Douglas emphasized the importance of not over-promising and Kieran Lawton stated that small businesses shouldn’t feel rushed into immediately selling their equity - as a small business, it is important that you get something back and if you have one to three sites you can always go down the route of crowdfunding. 

5. Small businesses drive change.
According to Jamie Campbell, results show that market growth is driven through small businesses. Dynamic small operators (who perhaps started as street food businesses) are raising consumers’ expectations by providing fun and exciting experiences, and almost a third (32%) of UK consumers visited a small business in the last six months. Remember that as a small business you can drive change, so harness your passion, ensure you are organised and forward-thinking, then go for it! 

Next event – “IFDA Networking at Café 164” – will be held on Thursday, 16 November.
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It is the last one of the year… Forum 4 Posted: 12 October

And so our season of IFDA forum events comes to a close, with our fourth and final event – Lifestyle, Long Term or Flip?

In this final forum event we’ll be looking at exit strategies. People make the mistake of believing an exit strategy is only for a hard-nosed businessman who has no joy in the job – but even the most invested, passionate foodie needs to know their exit strategy. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you choose the best route?

Behind the scenes on Forum 4

In this blog post we will introduce you to some of the forum’s speakers and panellists, giving you the backdrop to their business successes and letting you know them a little more, in advance of their talks at the event.

Marko Husak 
Bundobust have been a national sensation since the Leeds venue opened in 2014, with Michelin recommendations and rave reviews from Guardian food critic Jay Rayner. Marko Husak is Bundobust’s co-owner, and he will be one of the speakers at the forum - giving the inside perspective on a hugely successful business. 

Having started up Bradford-based Sparrow Bier in early 2011, Marko is a great example of a natural businessman who is led by his passion for the food and drink industry. Sparrow played a large role in the rejuvenation of Bradford city centre, injecting an independent, youthful vibe into an industry whose only Bradford outposts were, as Marko once put it, ‘old man pubs’.

Mayur Patel, Marko’s business partner in Bundobust, is of Prashad fame. The Bradford (and now Drighlington) based restaurant soared to renown in Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurants show, and Mayur and Marko met up to collaborate in early 2013.

Their gut instincts were correct – Prashad’s mouthwatering Gujurat delicacies fit perfectly with Marko’s finely chosen beer list. So an idea was born, and a series of pop-up and one-off events helped to refine the Bundobust brand.

Fast forward four years and Bundobust is eyeing up a third site, after the successful launch of a Manchester venue in December 2016.

James Douglas
Our second forum 4 speaker is James Douglas, co-founder of huge Leeds success story, Reds True Barbecue.

James has had a varied career, moving from high-up positions in sales and marketing, through to being a Managing Director in the property industry. His company, Nest Lettings, was founded in 2005. He created an award-winning online property agency, so successful that upon selling it in 2012, he could follow his hickory smoke-infused dreams of entering the restaurant business, and so set up Reds.

With eight branches, Reds has gone from strength to strength since its birth in 2012. As an authentic American smokehouse specialising in the “low n slow” American BBQ method using hickory and fruit woods, Reds is evangelical about BBQ’ed meats and their accompaniments, in true US style. It turns out a vast range of BBQ’ed meats from custom-made smokers imported from America.

James and co-owner Scott Munro have seen enormous success, securing £5 million in funding in 2015 from industry giants including the former chairman of Wagamama, the founder of Cabana, and the managing director of Pho. This allowed the creation of two more restaurants – including one in the competitive environment of London’s Shoreditch.

The brand is aiming at having twenty sites within five years, aspiring to be the UK’s biggest smokehouse and the go-to location for authentic US-style barbecue.

Tom Roseff
Tom Roseff joined Armstrong Watson, accountants, business and financial advisers in 2016. 

With their eyes set on future-proofing clients’ businesses, Armstrong Watson are the perfect firm to advise on this exit strategy brainstorming forum. Though they work across many industries, they have a specialism in the independent retail sector. 

Prior to Armstrong Watson, Tom has twenty years’ worth of experience with other national accounting firms. He specialises in advising entrepreneurial, private, and family owned businesses on tax matters, whether they need advice on tax-efficient business structure or looking into mitigating tax costs for your business and its shareholders.

He also specialises in real estate tax planning – which can help business owners release additional value from their transactions and their assets. Tom will be diving in to a case study on Reds BBQ, a massive commercial success, too.

Kieran Lawton
Kieran is an Investment Director at Manchester-based Palatine Private Equity.

Palatine typically invests between £2 and £30 million into a variety of transactions for a business – including, but not limited to, management buyouts and shareholder restructurings. 

They have a great track record of working with management teams in order to allow the creation, implementation and execution of growth strategies for your business. They understand entrepreneurship, as Palatine itself is an owner-managed business – this allows them greater empathy and understanding for the trials and tribulations of business ownership, and can help them to help you navigate stormy business seas.

Kieran joined Palatine in February 2016. With a decade of corporate finance experience specialising in Leisure and Hospitality under his belt, Kieran’s work at Palatine includes advising on mid-market deals such as Palatine’s investment in Gusto and The Alchemist. He now sits on the boards of both businesses, as a non-executive director.

Iain Donald 
Iain’s specialism in the food and drink industry started when he spent his formative years as a chef at the world-renowned Gleneagles and Dorchester hotels.

After spells overseas in Switzerland, South Africa and Jamaica, he returned to Manchester, where he is now based. 

He worked as executive chef for SSP (Scandinavian Service Partner), at Manchester Airport. Whilst he was there, he saw an opportunity – to move into Operations Management.

After five years as Operations Management at Manchester Airport, he moved on – to newly formed restaurant group, Est Est Est. He nurtured Est Est Est from seven to a portfolio of 22 restaurants, before its 2007 sale. He then became founding partner and commercial director of the Individual Restaurant Company, one of the UKs leading restaurant companies, comprising 22 Piccolino’s and 10 Restaurant Bar and Grills. He now operates independently as a Restaurant Consultant.

Ever worried about how your business can be sustainable? Wondering how you’ll know when to scale up, or sell? Considering getting a non-executive director onboard?

Join us for the fourth and final in the IFDA forum series curated by Thom Hetherington and get questions like these answered by the experts you’ve met above, as well as much more.
Register for tickets HERE
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2018 Michelin stars have been announced Posted: 10 October

On 2 October, chefs, owners and front of house staff alike quake in their boots, as the world-famous and coveted Michelin stars are announced. Coverage started from 11.45am, in a live event from The Brewery in London.

The swanky event saw Leeds retain its star, with Michael O’Hare’s pioneering and avant-garde hit The Man Behind The Curtain retaining its star since 2015, and saw many Michelin recommendations retained – as well as winning a new spot, from Issho.

Mill Hill remains the unlikely site of plenty of Michelin attention, with Bundobust and Tharavadu, situated right alongside each other and serving up Gujurati and Keralan Indian cuisine respectively, retaining their ‘recommended’ statuses. The other independent voice which retained its recommendation, nestled within Headrow House, was fabulous solid-fuel grill specialists, Ox Club.

The Michelin Guide was introduced in France in 1900 and the British Isles in 1911, so that motorists would know where to stop on the road to enjoy great food and drink. Restaurants are awarded a recommendation, one, two, or even three stars. London’s Le Gavroche was the first UK restaurant to win a Michelin star, and only five restaurants in the UK currently hold three stars – The Waterside Inn, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, The Araki, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and The Fat Duck.

Leeds is still celebrating from last weekend’s glowing Ox Club review in Jay Rayner’s Observer column, showing that it isn’t only the Michelin men who rate the excellent and inspired food Ox Club produces. 

Once again, Leeds’ thriving and supportive independent spirit has led independent venues to hold their own in the world’s most well-respected culinary awards.
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Meet our Member - How MulkEats Began Posted: 22 September  

How did you get started in the food/drink business?
I’ve always loved food and social drinking, most of us do. I particularly enjoy world food and local brewed beers at Festivals, which inspired my business adventure. I vend with a Hawker tray, trading my Indian street food to those who appreciate a nice, spicy snack, with a chilled drink.

Have you always been interested in the food/drink industry?
I love my homeland Asian food and arguably, nothing tastes better than my mums cooking, which is where I learnt my trade. I owe it to myself and so organically moved towards the food industry but not before time, as it was ‘my calling’.

What motivates you?
Challenge, Passion and a will to succeed are my driving forces to achieve the best that I can be. I am always searching for a new and unique dish but have comfort and joy in the old traditional favorites. Let’s face it… we all love a good samosa and a pakora, now and then?

Best dish/drink on the menu?
My menu is always changing but I keep the standard ‘Pernji’s pakora’. Indian street food is quick and tasty but I’m heading for bigger and brighter dishes. You need to check out my new menu.

Where can we find you?
Keep an eye out for me hawking at a music or food festival near you.

You will find me at the Kirkstall Deli Market (Leeds), better still, start following: Twitter: @MrSansoya
Facebook: @MrSansoya
Instagram mulkeats
and other social media: #Mulkeats @MrSansoya

What made you join the IFDA?
The IFDA have done so, so much for me! If it wasn’t for them, then I’d still be looking for my first catering event. I joined them for their wealth and extensive knowledge, their Networking opportunities and their personal approach to me as a human, trying to earn an honest ‘rupee’.

Mulkeet Sansoya Founder and owner of MulkEats.
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Five Takeaways from IFDA Forum 3: Tech Disruption: Data to Delivery Posted: 8 September

The 5 September saw the third IFDA forum, entitled Tech Disruption: Data to Delivery. Speakers Dan Hope (Firebird Hope), Tom Cheesewright (an Applied Futurist) and panellists Dan Harper (First10), Otto Laghzaoui (Deliveroo) and Glen Foster (Xero) brought their knowledge and insight to bear on tech innovation in the food and drink industry and how the implementation of certain apps and devices can help you manage your business. 

Dan Hope, food entrepreneur and founder of Firebird Hope (a pop-up chicken dining concept in Manchester), shared his advice on using apps and services which integrate with one another and ultimately, help you manage your business efficiently. He also recommended swapping Excel and email for apps such as Deputy and Slack, and emphasized the importance of using social media and surveys, so that you are constantly collecting data from your customers and ensuring that you are providing the desired customer experience. Tom Cheesewright, a leading commentator on technology and tomorrow, then spoke about how tech is the biggest driver of change, meaning that there is competition for businesses to cut through the ‘noise’ on social media. You can download Dan's presentation here

Dan Harper, Otto Laghzaoui and Glen Foster contributed to the panel discussion with further advice on how to keep up with the fast-moving world of tech and what the future holds. 
We’ve summarised the top five “takeaways” from forum three below.

1. Apps are your friends. 
Nowadays, it can sometimes feel like there is an app for everything which may seem daunting. Choose apps which ‘talk’ to one another, save time and inform your decisions; build an ecosystem of apps which make life easier and help you to efficiently manage your business. Dan Hope recommended using Kounta, Xero and Deputy to help with scheduling and accounting and Slack as a more efficient alternative to email. Dan also asked for businesses to abandon Excel as a way of tracking pay and hours for your workforce; it isn’t designed to manage people, it doesn’t provide you with any analytics and it doesn’t integrate with other apps. Dan also highlighted that multi-site task manager apps such as TRAIL will soon be available to single operators. 
2. D is for Data.
Collecting data from your customers can be vital to helping you grow and develop as a business. Make sure you send out regular surveys via Eventbrite to work out your Net Promoter Score (which relates to how likely a customer is to recommend your business to someone else). Apps such as qudini also help you capture customer data and understand their customer experience. Be the first the find out about negative feedback so that you can deal with it directly and sort it out before it’s shared with a potentially-new customer either by word of mouth or via social media – remember that 16-25 year olds are more influenced by their peers than TV or celebrities. 

3. How to engage with your audience.  
Surveys and social media allow you to capture more details about your target audience and find out the best way to engage with them. There are so many channels for communication, discovery and interaction with both current and future customers and businesses must compete against one another to stand out on social media and ‘cut through’ all the noise. Maximise the value of your relationship with customers and remember that retention is also an attraction strategy.

4. Have fun with creating content.  
Tom Cheesewright described the experience of eating and cooking as hugely ‘marketable’.  This is your chance to get creative. Use your social media channels to push content which is fun, unique and memorable. Millennials invest money in experiences so think about what your business can offer that others can’t.  

5. What does the future hold? 
To re-emphasize Tom Cheesewright’s statement: tech is the biggest driver of change and the panellists agreed that it has revolutionised food delivery. You can already make payments via face recognition with PayPal and Domino’s Pizza and Ford are testing self-driving pizza delivery cars in America. Remember that technology (such as scheduling apps and Instagram accounts) are designed to help you run your business smoothly – it is worth investing in and embracing. 

Forum four – “LIFESTYLE: LONG-TERM OR FLIP?” – will be held on Tuesday, 17 October.
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IFDA Forum 3: Tech Disruption: Data to Delivery Posted: 4 September

Meet Dan Hope: Counting your chickens
With Forum 3: “Tech Disruption: Data to Delivery” coming up on Tuesday, 5 September, we caught up with forum speaker Dan Hope, the man behind Manchester’s newest secret supper club, Firebird Hope, to chat chicken (and tech innovation)!

Firebird Hope uses different premises for each event, frequently selling out to a loyal Mancunian foodie following. Choosing to opt for a supper club, rather than permanent premises, “was a conscious decision”, Dan clarifies. “We wanted to refine a bricks-and-mortar restaurant concept.” A supper club allows precisely that; Dan can explore and test out all of the variables a food business encounters, with the flexibility that “no set venue” allows. This is not just testing the waters; Firebird Hope is carefully controlled. 

“We feel that we are at our best when we take control of the whole experience for our customers – the service, aesthetic, music, etc. Each of our pop-ups has informed crucial changes in our ideas for how a restaurant should run, information we would not get if we were trading in a market situation.”

Firebird Hope is all about “the importance of provenance in food, and how it is impossible to find proper free-range chicken in a restaurant for a reasonable price”, he notes. “We serve a beautiful portion of the best free-range chicken for less than a tenner.”

Dan’s desire to explore and innovate continues into applying modern technologies to his foodie business venture. Come find out what he lists as the top five apps and services he’s utilised whilst setting up and running Firebird Hope.

Our other speaker on the night is the leading commentator on technology.

Tom Cheesewright 
Tom is an Applied Futurist and a leading commentator on technology and tomorrow, who is often featured on the BBC and in national papers. He will focus his wide knowledge base down to the food and drink industry, looking at change over the next 5-10 years.

Tom has been interested in the future since childhood. “In about 1981, my mum bought me the Usborne Book of the Future”, he told us, “and between that and Star Wars I’ve always been obsessed with what’s next.”  He didn’t immediately end up in his specialism, though: “I took a pretty circuitous route: a degree in Mechatronics, marketing for big firms (BT, HP, IBM), running a digital agency, then founding a software company and doing the whole start-up thing”

For anyone wondering what an Applied Futurist does, Tom outlined his work, day in day out:  
"I help people to answer three questions: 
 1. What does our future look like? 
 2. How do we tell that story? 
 3. And what do we do next?
Sometimes the client is a single organisation, sometimes it's a whole industry - everything from banks to biscuits, retailers to superyacht manufacturers. I've worked with BASF, BP, LG, Nikon, Sony Pictures, Unilever - lots of really interesting organisations.”

But what does the work actually consist of? “The work takes many forms - reports, talks, workshops. But increasingly I'm teaching people to do it for themselves. It's really just about structured thinking, so I now teach a professional development course at the University of Salford and licence a toolkit for those who want to adopt a more futurist mindset.”

Does someone who knows the future automatically feel pessimistic about it? It turns out, not - Tom calls himself a short-term pessimist, long-term optimist. “There are some challenges in the next twenty years that are now unavoidable. But some people and organisations will be able to navigate them better than others based on the choices and investments they make today, in skills and strategy, as much as technology.” 

According to Tom, it’s about seeing and accepting change, soon. “Businesses naturally insulate themselves from change – often until it’s too late. There’s so much to do when you’re running a business that your vision is naturally drawn to what’s going on inside rather than outside. The result is that many leaders don’t recognise that the environment has changed around them until it is too late.”

But how easy is the business of prediction? “What’s going to happen is often much easier to predict than when it will happen. It’s very easy to be too early or too late. The key is to listen carefully to what’s going on, not just with your current customers but in the adjacent markets as well. Hear the signals and adapt rapidly. The good news is that experimentation and adaptation is cheaper and easier that it has ever been.”

Forum 3 is boasting an important panel discussion too, with expertise across the board. 

Panel speakers include:

Otto Laghzaoui Deliveroo
Otto has spent the last three years working at Deliveroo, moving from a role as Account Manager towards growing the Account Management team, which now consists of 45 people in the UK. Joining when the company was only twenty staff members, he is well placed to discuss the perks and pitfalls of such spectacular growth, having seen Deliveroo scale across the country and into eleven international markets. 

Dan HarperFirst 10 
Dan has worked in digital agencies for five years, initially as a developer and now as the head of tech for First10, working for clients such as Bella Italia, Tilda and Byron Burgers. Dan oversees the design and build from a development and data collection perspective, making sure sites are fully integrated into the required customer systems.

He previously worked in the drink dispensing industry for nine years, where he built tools to make the best use of operational data to improve operational efficiency.

Sally Jones - Armstrong Watson 
Sally Jones the independent sector lead for Armstrong Watson is going to be joining the panel discussion too. She has helped numerous food and drink clients in Leeds alone to secure funding, set up new companies and invest wisely. Her clients range from Bundobust to Belgrave Music Hall, Welcome Skate Shop and Water Lane Boathouse. 

The award-winning accountancy app will be on hand to answer any questions you may have with the application. If you are thinking of using XERO, this is an ideal opportunity to chat to them direct! 

Get down to the IFDA’s third forum, “Tech Disruption: Data to Delivery” hosted by Josh Nesbitt on Tuesday, 5 September, 17.00-20.30, at Headrow House, to hear more from Dan Hope and Tom Cheesewright, alongside Deliveroo, Xero and Dan Harper from First10. 

The forum is sponsored by Armstrong Watson

Tickets are free for IFDA members and £15 for non-members. Find out more and register here.
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Leeds Beer Week Posted: 25 August

Leeds Beer Week is here! We’ve highlighted some member events below so that you can partake of all of the week’s hoppy highlights without missing a thing…

The Gujurat gastronomes will be running a few events during the week: 

For Bruxelles meets Bombay, Bundobust will be hosting Belgian-inspired beers from international breweries all week long, including Wild Ales, Saisons and Lambics, both at the bar and in the fridges. Keep an eye on the spexials board for some Belgian inspiration, as the famous Brussels sprout bhaji returns, alongside a Bombay sandwich with gouda and Belgian ‘frites’.

28 August sees Cantillon Club, now sold out, where Bundobust co-owner Marko will be sharing beers from one of the world’s most unique breweries – Cantillon – with all proceeds donated to Action Against Hunger.

30 August sees Bundobust celebrating the launch of their collaboration with renowned brewery Redchurch. The new Farmhouse Saison – inspired by Bradford curry houses’ favourite condiment, lemon and fenugreek pickle – will be launched, alongside the brewers behind the collab, from Redchurch.

1 September sees Bundobust showcase brewery Brasserie De La Senne. One of Belgium’s more progressive breweries, pop down to try out brews such as ‘Taras Boulba’ or ‘Zinnebir’. 

Devon & Cornwall Beer Festival

Ham & Friends (alongside their older brother venue Friends of Ham) will be hosting the Devon and Cornwall Beer Festival through Leeds Beer Week. Chosen by their friends at Vessel Beer Shop (Plymouth), both venues will be offering draught and bottled beers such as Verdant, Woodman Wild Ales, Moon Child and New Lion. This stretches through LBW and beyond, through August, at both Friends of Ham’s Leeds and Ilkley venues.

26 August - Art & Beer Fair

Eyes Brewing X Hyde Park Book Club X Leeds Beer Week

A Barbecue, DJs, new beer launch and some quality local artists are setting up shop at the Hyde Park Book Club on August 26th. Eyes Brewing will be launching a brand new beer on draught as part of Leeds Beer Week and Hyde Park Book Club are providing some delicious barbecued grub alongside an art and print fair.
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Stop stalling - Get a stall! Posted: 16 August

Leeds Kirkgate Market has been voted Britain’s favourite market, and is the largest covered one in the whole of Europe! With Leeds’ independent food scene thriving, the small (and larger) traders located in this historic building will hopefully continue to go from strength to strength. 

As well as maintaining the traditional market traders, Kirkgate is constantly innovating, with the multi-million pound investment in the new 1976 Hall allowing pop-ups and permanent food stalls as well as providing a performance area and plenty of space for events. 

A new innovation to add to the roster is the proposed “barrow” stall scheme, mimicking the traditional Victorian market “barrow” stalls. This will allow smaller traders to set up in this newly refurbished hall for the introductory cost of only £20 per day!

Keen to keep the offering fresh and exciting, the scheme will give priority to applicants with a unique offering, for the most days per week. 

This amazing opportunity will provide a flexible hire scheme, with three different barrow sizes ranging from 6ft by 2’11 right up to 6’6 by 3’11, at a height of 0.9 metres.

The nitty gritty
Your Barrow can be set up in the 1976 Hall in the morning, and you can trade from there all day long (although the exact location in the hall is subject to change, should a large event be happening that day).

What you’ll need:
Should your application be successful (email for an application form), you will need to supply the following:

  • Proof of eligibility to work in the UK
  • Proof of address
  • Public Liability Insurance

If you’re a small trader wishing to try out trading, this scheme could be the perfect opportunity, and from the best market in the UK!
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Slainte, Prost, Cin Cin, Cheers…what do we know about beer in Leeds? Posted: 3 August

Leeds is a positive haven for beer drinkers. With a plethora of award-winning breweries, we are a city who knows what we like – and we like a tall, cold one. 

A recent report looking into online conversations around beer and beer drinking has been published, highlighting some trends amongst the beer industry and beer drinkers. We thought we’d take a look at the facts and figures, and see if they fit with what we know about the Leeds beer scene.

Key points from the report found:

- Consumers are fickle
- Drinkers are interested in beer and food pairing
- We nurture a growing association between beer and travel
- Hoppy bitterness continue to be popular
- Sunday drinking is on the up
- People want the right glass for the right drink

Consumers are fickle
Because beers aren’t going to break the bank, the report suggests that consumers are keen to try out the new and exciting rather than stick with old favourites. This means that the “popularity of specific beers very quickly rise and fall in popularity”. Whilst we’re keen to try new brews wherever they make themselves available, the Leeds scene does show some brand loyalty. Although drinkers are always keen for the new offering from Northern Monk, or Ilkley Brewery, for example, they always support the firm favourites too, with a pint of Mary Jane or New World IPA.

Beer and food pairing
The beer scene is considerably more laid-back than the wine scene. Nevertheless, people are beginning to want to see their favourite beers elevated, and given the respect they deserve. A beer needn’t be a thoughtless choice when you fancy a tipple; the craft behind the brew is becoming all-important, and beers are rightfully taking their place at the fine dining dinner table, with chefs and brewers alike keen to experiment and push the boundaries. Friends of Ham, a regular supporter of the food-beer-combo, have their next event on 29th August, combining beers from Bristol brewers Wiper and True with a four course dinner rustled up by the Friends of Ham kitchen. Find tickets in the Friends of Ham online shop.

The research also notes the connection between street food and beer. With beer perceived as cheaper and more casual than wine, it fits the pop-up/food truck ethos of simple, tasty grub. With Leeds being such a haven for pop-ups, we can certainly see the link – and maybe this report suggests that the popularity of both the craft beer scene and the pop-up/street food scene in Leeds have been more mutually beneficial, and indeed mutually reliant, than we had even considered? 

There’s a growing association between beer and travel
Perhaps because we link beer with enjoyment and relaxation, we associate it with travel and our holidays – whether enjoying pint on our day off in the sun or in a bustling European square at sunset. As well as the aforementioned association between beer and relaxation, the survey notes that beer enthusiasts are beginning to travel to visit breweries and sample local beers. 

As well as relaxation, other key emotions related to travel are adventure and exploration – and that fits well with our desire to sample the new and innovative in the beer scene too. More and more drinkers know where their favourite brews are based and will look them out when on hols (we know that scouting out Brus, Toll and Mikkeler suppliers were first on our list when we visited Copenhagen). But in Leeds we also let laziness take a front seat, and let our favourite brewers come to us! Exciting foreign breweries cropping up in the city include a raft of exciting American brewers that came to Whitelock’s American Beer Festival: Red, White and Brews (27-30 July), a raft of Skandis at North Bar (and its sibling bars) during the month of July, and, finally, Leeds Beer Week, coming in end of August and September, is set to host a Beavertown tap takeover at Headrow House as well as providing lots of opportunity to try exciting brews.

People love the hops
Craft beer and hoppy IPAs reign on! Hops, perhaps the most defining trait of the IPA, continue to be one of craft beer’s biggest success stories. Though many forecast the downfall of craft beer, those hoppy flavours keep the drinker coming back for more. As the report highlights, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was one of the hoppiest brews when it was invented back in the 80s, with a score of 37 in the IBUs (International Bitterness Unit). Some hoppy ales are now hitting the 100 IBU mark. 

This April saw Hop City festival at Northern Monk, bringing the city some American and Scandinavian hoppy brews that it had never seen before. The report states that we associate hoppy bitterness (as well as more complex flavour profiles) with the artisanal, small-scale brews craft beer represents; the opposite of the mass-market, mass-produced ales and lagers on the market.

Sunday Funday
Performatively, Sunday drinking is growing. The report shows we’re going out to ‘elevate normal occasions’ – we don’t need it to be a birthday, a promotion or an anniversary to treat ourselves to a posh brew. That means that, post-brunch on a sunny Sunday, a nice trip down to Belgrave or Headrow House’s roof terrace is on the cards for a pint of something unusual. The report also suggests that our desire to extend the naughtiness of the weekend into chilling out with a drink on Sunday (often starting earlier too, with brunch or lunch) comes with the 20-something territory – with fewer in the twenty-somethings generation settled down with kids than in previous generations, we have more disposable income to spend on treating ourselves.

Proper Glassware
Sure, we all know that our beer should be served in the right glass when it comes to brewers (did you know, your drink should come free if it’s in another brewery’s glassware? Many places will honour this), but there are also appropriate sized and shaped glasses for the types of beer we’re drinking. Beer aficionados claim that different glasses impact the formation of head, as well as the release of aromas and flavours. Whilst cocktails and wines have long been served in specific glassware for their variety, it’s pretty new stuff for the beer scene, illustrating that we are now elevating beer as a drink of similar finesse and quality. As a city obsessed by craft beer, we’re happy to give our beers a wiggle and a sniff like a wine buff, as long as our award-winning breweries keep throwing some of the best brews in the UK our way.
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Meet our member - Harewood House Food & Drink Posted: 31 July

This week, meet the Harewood Food & Drink Project. A true celebration of the fantastic produce that comes from the Harewood Estate. They are aiming to  bring a range of products and experiences made using fruit, vegetables, meats and foraged foods from Harewood. Check out their gin, range of seasonal beers and upcoming immersive dining experience - Hidden Harewood – a pop–up supper club with guest chef Josh Whitehead.  

Q: How did you get started in the food and drink business?
Through a passion for great food and the fantastic opportunity to promote and celebrate the incredible array of produce on the Harewood Estate. I guess you could say we were in the right place at the right time.

Q: Have you always been interested in the food and drink industry?
What started as an interest became a passion, which became an obsession - to constantly find the best beer, best cheese and best smoked meats. 

Q: What motivates you?
What motivates me is creating products that excite me. Promoting the amazing diversity of great food that comes from Harewood, working with great people and doing something that’s really important to me. 

Q: Best dish or drink on the menu? (or favourite dish you have had / best drink) 

Hmmm, best dish I’ve ever eaten? Michael O’Hare’s Man Behind the Curtain Thai Green Curry. Best drink? Pretty much anything made by Cloudwater.

Q: Where do you want to take your business/what is the next step for your business?
 To develop Harewood as being a Thought Leader regionally, nationally and internationally in ethical artisan food & drink production, and foodie experiences. 

Q: Where can we find you? 
Twitter: @HarewoodFandDP
Facebook: @harewoodfoodanddrink 
Instagram: harewoodfoodanddrink 
Address: Harewood Yard, Harewood, Leeds, LS17 9LF    

Q:What made you join the IFDA?
The opportunity to meet like-minded people, hear other peoples’ stories and challenges, learn from our peer group and advisor network. To get ideas and find collaborators. Also - free beer.
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Meet our member - Woodlawn Coffee Posted: 24 July

This week we speak to new IFDA members Woodlawn Café from Horsforth in our member profiles feature.

Q: How did you get started in the food and drink business?

This is actually my first venture in the food and drink business. My background is actually in architecture/building and, for the past few years, graphic design. Having lived in Horsforth for over ten years now I just knew there was a gap in the market for great coffee, fresh locally sourced food and all of this in a nice relaxed environment.        

Q: Have you always been interested in the food and drink industry? 

My first jobs at school were always either restaurant or bar jobs and looking back some of these were the best jobs I ever had. Great food and drink has always been a passion of mine, even more so in the last few years with what is on offer in Leeds.

Q: What motivates you? 
Since we opened the comments and reactions that I have been getting from customers have been great motivation.

Q: Best dish or drink on the menu?  
The coffee has been getting great feedback since we opened so I will say any of the coffee drinks. The avocado with salmon and poached eggs has been the most popular dish from day one.

Q: Where do you want to take your business/what is the next step for your business? 
I want to see the business evolve into a position where it will become a community hub not just a coffee shop. I am looking forward to expanding the retail side to offer a more diverse range of products, too.      

Q: Where can we find you?  
Address: 60A Horsforth Town street, LS18 4AP
Instagram - @woodlawncoffeeco

Q: What made you join the IFDA? 
I knew I would have the opportunity to learn a lot and get advice from people who have been in and around the Leeds food and drink scene for many years. There was always a few faces in the coffee shops and bars of Leeds I knew to say hello to, so it’s really nice to get to know these people more and forge some great new friendships.
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Meet our member - Growing Better 19 July 

This week on the member profiles, we speak to Rob Moores, Founder of Growing Better. Growing Better is a Community Interest Company who provide an urban farm as a friendly working environment for those facing mental health challenges.

Q: How did you get started in the food and drink business?
In early 2016 I was made redundant. I’d been developing an interest in urban farming – inspired by The Severn Project in Bristol - and was looking to start something around food and health. At around the same time someone I am very close to tried to take their own life, completely out of the blue. Up until then I had no knowledge of the UK mental health system, but as I supported this person through it I learned how overwhelmed and under-funded every part of it is - whether a secure unit or community MH centre (despite the wonderful people that work in it), and how much it relies on the third sector to fill the gaps in service provision. 

Once I made the link between growing and mental health – and the potential to create a commercial social enterprise around it - I realised that this was something I simply had to do. So I used my redundancy payout to finance the next 18 months getting Growing Better up and running. 

In 2016 we had a successful summer growing and selling baby leaf salad and herbs, which we sold to businesses in and around Leeds - places like House of Koko, Stories and the Cross Keys. We provided paid and volunteer work for eight people, almost all self-identifying as having mental health issues. However, people need support throughout the year not just in the outdoor growing season - and so after a lot of research we decided to create an indoor hydroponic vertical farm that produces food, employment and better mental health all year round.

We’ve been trialling growing systems in a repurposed Portakabin in a corner of the Real Junk Food Project warehouse for three months now. Andrew Critchett, founder of street food business Fish&, has been volunteering with us as part of his recovery and taking the lead on commercial development. We’ve had a great response from people like Ben Davey at Ox Club, Stuart Myers at The Swine That Dines and Andy York from The Noise of Strangers, Laynes, Ham& Friends, George & Joseph and the guys at The Brunswick, so we’re confident the market is there and the product is right.

So that’s Growing Better, and its mission to help people living with mental health challenges with social and work re-integration. Add into that the opportunity to reduce food miles, increase people’s awareness of the food system and healthy eating, and you have a subject that is far too important to be left to politicians!   

Q: Have you always been interested in the food and drink industry? 
My career in the industry started when I was student – I worked behind the bar at what was Ikes on Belgrave Street making cocktails. That was a long, long time ago!

My last “proper” job was at Asda’s Head Office in Leeds, and that re-kindled my interest in food and drink – especially when I started looking into how Walmart (Asda’s parent company) was developing its health strategy.

Q: What motivates you? 
Lots of things! Primarily the opportunity to help people with mental health challenges with social and work re-integration. Add into that the benefits of growing on mental (and physical) health, the opportunity to reduce food miles, increasing people’s awareness of the food system and healthy eating, and finally the way that food and drink can touch every part of the school curriculum – you have a subject that is endlessly fascinating and important!

Q: Best dish or drink on the menu? 
We grow micro greens for others to put on dishes rather than doing it ourselves. My favourite looking micro green is Red Dragon mustard, and my favourite tasting is coriander.

Q: Where do you want to take your business/what is the next step for your business? 
We’re crowdfunding to raise £20,000 to buy a shipping container and fit it out with the equipment needed to create a hydroponic vertical farm, creating jobs and social re-integration for people with mental health challenges. 

From Wednesday July 19th you can read about, and make a donation to, our crowdfunding campaign at
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The Eyes Have It Posted: 10 July

Did you know that our first decision on whether to eat something is usually made not by the enticing smell wafting towards you but by the food’s visual impact?
How often have you opened the cupboard for something and seen a naughty treat – biscuits, a chocolate bar – and immediately eaten it, even though you weren’t hungry? You know that, if you hadn’t seen it, eating it wouldn’t have crossed your mind.
Many people impulse eat because of the stimulation of seeing food. What you put into your mouth dictates your health and your weight, but your senses, first of all sight, will dictate how much you eat, your food choices and, interestingly, how much you’ll enjoy your food.
You’d likely assume that the process of eating – the biting, chewing, swallowing – would at least be key to what we taste. But you’d be wrong! Sight is so important that it can vastly alter our perception of taste, too! As Charles Spence, Oxford Professor of Developmental Psychology illustrates, visual perception is crucial. Drinks coloured red (associated with ripe, sweet fruits) were perceived to be up to 11% sweeter than their green counterparts, associated with under-ripe, sour flavours. So even colour can have a vast impact on your palate.
It’s much more important than we might have thought, then, to assure the aesthetic desirability of a dish. With Instagram and other social media platforms disseminating pictures of your food in an instant, you could have diners’ mouths watering before they walk in the door (or, alternatively, put-off a potential customer instantaneously)!
The art of the aesthetic in food is the subject of the July IFDA networking event, entitled “We Eat With Our Eyes”. Held at Bundobust (location of the most Instagrammed food in the city), co-owner Marko Husak alongside Ross Featherstone of Food&, the online food journal, the event will reveal some secrets of taking the best shots of your food, and making the most out of them on social media. 
The event is free to IFDA members and £10 to non-members. Get your tickets here.
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Meet Our Members - Café 164 Posted: 5 July

In this members’ profile we catch up with Café 164 to chart their route into the Leeds food industry.

Q: How did you get started in the food and drink business?
I cut my teeth learning about food working for my dad’s bakery and sandwich shop (Bakery 164). There was no formal training; I got thrown in at the bottom and learnt all aspects of catering, food, and running a business working my way around each department, learning on the job.

Q: Have you always been interested in the food and drink industry?
Not initially - my formal training is in Theatre and Performance Design, in which I worked professionally for a couple of years. I have always been passionate about creating environments, spaces and places (even stages?) for people to be in and on. The idea to add to the food and drink element came after working for my dad. So I tried to marry the two areas - space and environment, with food and drink. 

Q: What motivates you?
Giving people what they want, and seeing them happy, satisfied, and coming back for more. Knowing that you have been able to provide a service and a food product that people love, and seeing their reactions. Also, working with like-minded people who share the same values, passions, and attention to detail - whether it is a member of staff, or a business we collaborate with. Knowing that there is someone else who understands what you do, and who strives for the same things, is a very motivational thing. One other very important motivation is competition. It puts a rocket up your arse and stops you from resting on your laurels. Its reminds you that you need to keep on innovating to stay afloat. 

Q: What’s the best dish or drink on the menu?
Chicken roasted with rosemary from our edible living herb wall, crispy chorizo and pesto made from scratch, in one of our focaccia breads - that was pretty spectacular, but we are always trying to improve and better the last thing we did. When we incorporate our bakery we are looking forward to sending out some really fantastic breads and cakes.

Q: Where do you want to take your business/what is the next step for your business?

Refine and improve on what we currently do, and get the bakery up and running. 

Q: Where can we find you?
Instagram: @cafe164,
Twitter: @cafe164
Facebook: @cafe164
Business address: Cafe 164, Munro House, Duke St, LS9 8AG

Q: What made you join the Independent Food and Drink Academy?
As small business owners, we owe it to our businesses to take advantage of every opportunity available to help and support us as we grow our businesses.  IFDA is one of those opportunities.
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Five Takeaways from IFDA Forum 2: 'Not the Menu and the Wine List, but the License and the Lease' Posted: 30 June

The 27 June saw the second IFDA forum, entitled 'Not the Menu and the Wine List, but the License and the Lease'.

Speakers Christian Townsley (North Bar), Louisa Richards (Hawksmoor Manchester) and panellists Dan Davies (Metis Real Estate), Simon Wallace (Avensure) and Tony Lyons (Kuits) brought their knowledge and insight to bear on successfully navigating the minefield of bureaucracy and legislation – the less glamorous but central elements of business.

Christian, co-founder and director of North Bar, gave honest advice on signing leases, developing relationships with landlords and ensuring that you speak to lots of people and do your research. He also discussed the importance of staffing, scalability and pensions. Louisa, General Manager of Hawksmoor Manchester, then spoke about how starting your own business can be a steep learning curve; she used various examples of issues that the owners had experienced.

Dan Davies, Simon Wallace and Tony Lyons contributed to the panel discussion with technical and logistical advice, for dealing with landlords, local authorities, signing and changing leases, probation periods and employee rights.

We’ve summarised the top five “takeaways” from forum two below:

1. Head vs Heart.
It’s always good to trust your instinct and go with your gut but it’s also very important to ensure that you don’t make any rash decisions. Be humble and patient and don’t expect to get rich quick. Try not to get into the habit of thinking short-term as this may mean you fall at the first hurdle. Before you embark on signing a lease, work out a medium to long growth strategy and ensure everything is in order in terms of planning. Try to also establish a good relationship with your landlord and meet them regularly, face-to-face, so your negotiation and termination periods can be on friendly terms.

2. Do your research.
It’s vital to speak to lots of people around you, who will share their knowledge and advice. Try to attend networking events; ask questions; read books. Learning from your peers and gathering advice will come in handy if you happen to face a difficult decision or a new situation which you may not have experienced before.

3. Surround yourself with experts.
It’s worth having experts on hand (such as advisors and accountants) to steer you in the right direction – Christian described it as money well spent. Get references and recommendations and check their backgrounds. As specialists in their field, they will guide you through unknown territory, for example, if you wish to change your license. Go to an advisor first; then, when you approach the local authority, you will already be aware of the process. Both Christian and Louisa also spoke about hiring staff who are ‘better than you’. If you hire employees who are also specialists in their field and passionate about the job, then it allows you to work on the fun stuff!

4. Ensure you have a well-trained team.
Surrounding yourself with the right team is key. Ensure the employees you recruit are well-trained and if your staff are making the same mistakes twice, immediately address the issues. Hire people who are passionate about the job and genuinely want to work for your business. Make sure they receive constant feedback throughout their probation period and regular reviews. If it’s just not working out, sit down and talk about it straight away – don’t let it drag out.

5. You can’t look after your business unless you look after yourself.
Christian explained this point using the analogy of fitting your own oxygen mask on, when on an aeroplane, before helping others; once your own mask is fitted, then you can help others. This will also apply to the way you look after your business; make sure you take care of yourself and then you can be better at looking after your company and your team. It is so important to strike the right work-life balance, as it will contribute towards your business’s sustained growth and development in the long term. A happy environment = a happy business.

Forum three – “TECH DISRUPTION, FROM DATE TO DELIVERY” – will be held on Tuesday 5 September.
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Meet Our Members - Lean Lunch Posted: 27 June

Carrying on with our mission to profile all our IFDA members, today we spoke to Sat Mann of Lean Lunch to find out what makes his business tick.

Q: How did you get started in the food and drink business?
A couple of years ago I started trying to eat more healthily more often. But even though I worked in Leeds city centre, I couldn’t find the sort of tasty and nutritious lunches I wanted for the office. So I started buying ingredients from the supermarket and compiling them at work. It was healthy and I had more energy…but it definitely wasn’t convenient or tasty.

Q: Have you always been interested in the food and drink industry?
Well, this got me thinking there has to be a better way – and the result is Lean Lunch, which I set up with my wife Charlotte.We both absolutely LOVE food, and think there’s no reason healthy lunches can’t be mouth-wateringly delicious and thoroughly satisfying.

Q: What motivates you?
I’m motivated by family, friends and happiness.

Q: What’s the best dish or drink on the menu?
Vietnamese Chicken, Spring Rolls, Pomelo & Herb salad, Chilli & Lime Dip - this dish is the epitome of Lean Lunch, nutritious & delicious!

Q: Where do you want to take your business/what is the next step for your business?
I’m writing this 4 weeks from launch so that is the most important next step right now. It’s the culmination of 10 months’ work and we are excited about being the first online healthy lunch delivery business in Leeds. The objective from launch will be to make sure we consistently produce high quality food which captures loyal customers. We appreciate there will be a lot of lessons to learn from managing an online, fresh food production and delivery business but our commitment is absolute.

Q: Where can we find you?
Twitter: @leanlunchuk.
Business address: Unit A, Cardigan Workspace, Lennox Road, Leeds, LS4 2BL

Q: What made you join the Independent Food and Drink Academy?
I was recommended to do so by a contact at Leeds Beckett and after attending the first event as a guest I realised the value and joined.
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Meet Our Members -  Smak! Posted: 19 June 

This week we spoke to Leeds’ Polish kitchen, SMAK!, to find out what drives them as a business and where they’re headed to…

Q: How did you get started in the food and drink business?
It all started when we first put kiełbasa (a type of Polish sausage) on at a family BBQ, they couldn't get enough of them. It wasn't long until we applied for a space at Kirkstall Deli Market at the Abbey; we used a garden gazebo and a relatively small BBQ, and we received the same reaction, it was amazing! 

Q: Have you always been interested in the food and drink industry? 
We've always loved good food in our family, and Monika has run food businesses in Poland before she came to the UK.

 Q: What motivates you? 
Customer feedback. It makes it all worthwhile when people come back to say how much they enjoy what we serve (and, we just love being amongst people). 

Q: Best dish or drink on the menu?
That would have been an easy question at the beginning; we only did sausages! Our menu has developed now. Arguably it's pierogi at the moment (pan-fried Polish dumplings with a variety of fillings), although our kiełbasa continues to be a favourite for many.

Q: Where do you want to take your business/what is the next step for your business?
We're planning on opening a deli counter/café bar this summer so that our customers can have a bite whilst in the shop and take some of our products home.

Q: Where can we find you?
Physical address to follow!

Q: What made you join the IFDA?

We want to learn, collaborate and become part of something that can collectively change and improve the food scene in Leeds, for traders and importantly, our customers.
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IFDA Forum 2: 'Not the Menu and the Wine List, but the Licence and the Lease' Posted: 15 June

Tuesday, 27 June sees the second in the IFDA series of forums, hosted by Northern Monk Refectory from 5-8pm.

‘Not the Menu and the Wine List, but the License and the Lease’ sees our panellists and guest speakers discussing the less glamorous but absolutely central elements of business for a food and drink start-up – the successful navigation of the minefield of bureaucracy and legislation. 

The forum’s title is taken from Nick Lander’s seminal book ‘The Art of the Restauranteur’, and highlights the fact that most food and drink businesses are born from a place of passion rather than any business aptitude or a fondness for reams of paperwork. This industry is one of the most challenging in terms of bureaucracy and regulations, and successfully navigating the shark-infested waters of health and safety, hygiene regulations, recruitment and HR can be as big a hurdle as creating a successful menu.

Prior to the forum, we have spoken to the event’s panellists and guest speakers (due to offer up an indispensable ‘tool kit’ of professional insight tailored for food and drink start-ups) to hear about their history in the industry.

Dan Davies – Metis Real Estate 
Simon Wallace  - Avensure 
Tony Lyons – Kuits 

Guest Speakers: 
Christian Townsley – North Brewing Co / North Bar  
Louisa Richards – Hawksmoor Manchester 

Dan Davies
Dan Davies is a co-founder of Metis Real Estate advisors – a commercial real estate consultancy providing expert advice to occupiers, landlords, investors and developers across the UK.

Dan has over 20 years worth of experience in the leisure property sector, having previously worked at Drivers Jonas (now Deloitte), JLL and Tushingham Moore.  Dan works on development schemes from inception right through to ongoing strategic asset management initiatives.  Major schemes include; Liverpool ONE; Corn Exchange, Manchester; Leopold Square, Sheffield and First Street, Manchester.

Dan and his team also act on behalf of a wide range of national and regional restaurant occupiers including Pizza Express, Cote, GBK, Randall & Aubin, Indian Tiffin Room and Michael O’Hare (The Man Behind The Curtain).


Simon Wallace
 Simon Wallace has over 25 years of experience in Employment Law and 20 years’ experience in Health & Safety. Whilst studying Business and Finance, Simon took a special interest in modules surrounding people; most notably the way that businesses can be more efficient, more profitable, and have more satisfied customers when they properly engage their staff. 

Simon offers a practical, common sense approach – appreciating that HR, Employment Law, and Health and Safety can often be a minefield a business owner would rather not think about. However, his experience in the hospitality industry has proven time again that robust policies and procedures can help protect a brand, keep staff and customers safe, and save time in the long run.

A highly experienced presenter and trainer, Simon has a presentation style which is lively and informative, using real life examples of best practice within the workplace. His presenting style ensures that the audience leave understanding the content in a clear and concise manner; ensuring the best possible outcomes in an ever-changing world of Employment law.


Tony Lyons
Tony Lyons is Head of Licensing for Kuits and has considerable experience acting in licensing matters throughout the country. With a career spanning well over 20 years, Tony has licensed everything from the first ever public-toilet-turned-bar (The Temple of Convenience) to the world-famous Hacienda. Currently the only “elite”-ranked lawyer for licensing in the North West in the Legal 500, Tony’s legal and commercial aptitude was summed up perfectly by the late, great Tim Bacon of Living Ventures a couple years ago, when he said: “If you’re not using Tony Lyons for your licensing, you’re using the wrong guy.”

Today, Tony is helping developer clients such as Allied London and Gary Neville obtain licenses in principle for their upcoming developments, and has a growing reputation for being particularly successful in conducting the licensing arrangements for a number of new bars in areas of cumulative impact (areas where bars are considered to be impacting public nuisance and disorder). Due to his unrivalled expertise in his field, Tony was recently invited to advise the House of Lords as they reviewed the impact of licensing laws on the night-time economy. Tony is also a Member and Advisor of the Federation of Licensing Victuallers Association and a Member of British Institute of Innkeeping and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailer.

Christian Townsley 
Christian is a director of two companies, North Bar, a seven-strong group of bars and North Brewing Co., a 15bbl brewery and tap room on the fringe of Leeds city centre.

As a child, he dreamed of being an astronaut or an actor. He went on to study astrophysics at Leeds University but failing that, tried his hand at writing music instead. It wasn’t until 1997, when he opened North bar with John Gyngell, that he finally found his calling; the venue is cited by many as the first ‘craft beer bar’ in the UK, yet to Christian and John “it has always just been a good bar, without the pigeonhole, but it is a nice, flattering tag.”

This year they won Best Brewing Pub Company at the prestigious Publican Awards 2017. Alongside this, they were voted as the Best New Brewer in West Yorkshire, at the RateBeer Awards 2016 and Christian and John Gyngell featured in the NRB’s Top 50 Food and Drink players in the North of England 2017 - a ‘powerlist’ of the most important and influential individuals within the Northern hospitality industry.

Christian and John have been at the heart of the Leeds bar scene for 20 years. Prior to the opening of North Bar, Leeds was a barren desert in terms of drinking establishments, with just a handful of independent bars. Since then, the landscape has changed beyond recognition and North Bar certainly played a major role in bringing the ‘craft beer’ scene to Leeds. 

Louisa Richards
Louisa is the General Manager of Hawksmoor Manchester, one of the busiest restaurants in the City, which won Best Restaurant at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards last year. Hawksmoor is one of the most admired companies in the industry, as being a great place to work, and Louisa has been there for almost four years.  Having travelled the length and breadth of the country and performed a variety of roles in the industry, Louisa is involved in all aspects of business at Hawksmoor, and focuses on getting the best out of her team and the business. Originally from Chester, Louisa studied Hospitality at Leeds Beckett (when it was Leeds Met) and she still loves the city. 

Forum 2: ‘Not the Menu and the Wine List, but the License and the Lease’ will take place on Tuesday 27 June at the Northern Monk Brewery 5-8pm, with nibbles provided by My Thai and drinks from Northern Monk.

Book your place here
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Meet our members - Humpit Posted: 8 June

We’re profiling some of our wonderful IFDA members to give you an insight into what makes them tick as a business, where they came from and where they’re going.

Today we meet Jonathan, owner of Humpit, for his Q&A…

Q: How did you get started in the food and drink business?
We started in the food business by testing our product in the Hyde Park Unity Day. We were fairly popular immediately, so we thought the next step would be to look for a proper site - that's where we found our home in the beautiful Corn Exchange. 

Q: Have you always been interested in the food and drink industry?
I've always wanted to have my own food business, but apart from that I've always loved to experience different types of cuisines from different nationalities. 

Q: What motivates you?
What motivates me is building a friendship with all my customers. I wake up in the morning knowing that every day will be different, which keeps life a lot more interesting!

Q: What’s the best dish or drink on the menu?

My favourite drink on the menu has to be the homemade lemonade, as it's super-fresh and has that tang which keeps me going! My favourite food on the menu is the Humpit Classic, with the combo of toppings. It's so yummy and is super filling. 

Q: Where do you want to take your business/what is the next step for your business?
I would love to have Humpit stores all over the North of England - especially in student cities and towns. We are currently looking to open our third site, which will be revealed very soon! 

Q: Where can we find you?

As well as finding our physical stores in both Leeds’ Corn Exchange and Orchard Square (off Leopold Street) in Sheffield, you can find us on all social media platforms - just search HumpitHummus and you'll find us! 

Q: What made you join the Independent Food and Drink Academy?

The reason I joined the IFDA is purely to meet people in the same industry, share stories, learn from others and just have a good time.
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Five takeaways from IFDA Forum 1: Leeds: Past Present and Progress Posted: 24 May

The 25th April saw the first IFDA forum, entitled Leeds: Past, Present and Progress. 

Speakers Jamie Campbell (CGA Peach), Lucy Noone (R Noone & Son), Martin Wolstencroft (Arc Inspirations) and Mark Morris (D&D group) brought their knowledge and expertise to bear on the current climate and exciting future of our great city.
Jamie, of CGA Peach, provided a big presentation on the current business climate for food and drink providers in a post-Brexit, post-Trump political landscape. Lucy then spoke a little about her experiences with Allied London, encouraging independent businesses to travel and learn, and then translate these concepts into workable advancements for your business.
Martin Wolstencroft gave a inspirational chat before the panel discussion, which featured Lucy, CGA Peach and D&D and hosted by Josh Nesbitt. 
We’ve summarised the top five “takeaways” from forum one below.

1. Atmosphere and Experience go a long way.

Yes, the consumer now expects high standards in food offerings across the board.  Research revealed in forum one told us, though, that the dining experience has become experience-led. The surrounding ambiance of the dining experience and quality of it are and almost as important as the food itself. With this in mind, try and find a gap in the market – what is missing that you could offer? 
2. Independence must innovate.
To remain current and exciting, and offer something new that your clientele desire, independent businesses must keep their eyes and ears out for trends, internationally as well as nationally. Learning through travel will keep independent businesses at the forefront of emerging trends and consumer desires.  New-found concepts can then be translated into workable advancements with local suppliers.
3. That age-old adage – the customer is always right. 
Listen to what your clientele desires – they are the drivers of change. What the consumer wants translates into the biggest and most popular food trends. Always keep a close eye on your competitors too, in case they are in fact providing the ‘next big thing’.
4. Build your team with care. 
These guys, from front of house to the chefs, are the true heart and soul of your business. From the moment you advertise for a new role, ensure the team you build shares your passion, your ethos and your vision for your business. The whole team must be driving to a common goal in order to achieve success.
5. Know your customer.
Try to please everyone and you’ll end up pleasing no one. It’s important to target your specific niche and personalise your business. The personal touch that independence allows can be the key to success for independents, an advantage they hold over their mainstream competitors.

Download the presentation from CGA Peach here

Forum two – “NOT THE MENU AND THE WINE LIST, BUT THE LICENCE AND THE LEASE” – will be held on Tuesday 27th June.
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Leeds in Lonely Planet Top Ten Posted: 23 May

We were pleased to see that the Lonely Planet guide has named Leeds one of Europe’s top destinations to visit in 2017!

Although we love our vibrant city, it was great to see this international guide giving the city the recognition it deserves, classing us as one of Europe’s most exciting up-and-coming destinations for this year.

The guide states that Leeds earned its place due to its amazing turnaround over the last ten years. From a down-at-heel and struggling Northern industrial hub, Leeds is now one of the most exciting places to be in the UK, with a booming and well-supported independent scene. The Lonely Planet noticed Leeds’ flourishing cultural scene, as well as the great class of food and its stellar craft beer reputation. No news to us! Alongside the culinary, the guide mentions Leeds’ thriving cultural scene, entertainment and nightlife. 

Lonely Planet put Leeds amongst a competitive top ten of up-and-coming destinations, such as Zagreb in Croatia at number one, Galicia in Spain and Paphos in Cyprus.

James Smart, Lonely Planet spokesperson and UK Destination Editor said:

“Once defined by its industrial past, Leeds is now a confident, cultural hub in the North of England. With major events this year including the reopening of Leeds Art Gallery and the 50th anniversary of Leeds Carnival, there’s never been a better time to head to Yorkshire and join the party.”

We couldn’t agree more. With Leeds on a list of top destinations due to become the next traveller hot spots, we’re just glad we got in early with appreciating our great city!

The Lonely Planet’s top ten Best in Europe 2017:

Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2017
1.       Zagreb, Croatia
2.       Gotland, Sweden
3.       Galicia, Spain
4.       Northern Montenegro
5.       Leeds, UK
6.       Alentejo, Portugal
7.       Northern Germany
8.       Moldova
9.       Pafos, Cyprus
10.     Le Havre, France
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With the inaugural IFDA Forum almost here, here’s what Thom Hetherington, who designed the IFDA Forum had to say about it. 

“We felt that with the IFDA Forums it would have been too easy for the events to turn into simple cheerleading, focusing on what Leeds does well, but ultimately changing nothing. Instead we knew that we needed to make a disruptive statement with this first forum, by taking a very honest look about where Leeds currently sits in a broader context, and yes highlighting what it does well, but also focusing on where it could learn or improve. 
So IFDA Forum 1 – ‘LEEDS: PAST, PRESENT AND PROGRESS’ is about combining an honest perspective on where Leeds is, with ideas and inspiration from a top-class panel as to where its aims, aspiration and ambition should be. I think it’s a quality of panel and discussion that attendees wouldn’t get anywhere else, and it’s the first step to unlocking the talent and potential of the city’s burgeoning community of indie food and drink operators.”

Thom also hand picked the speakers for the IFDA Forum and had the following to say about each speaker:
“Jamie Campbell from CGA Peach is the perfect opening speaker for the inaugural IFDA Forum, as no one knows more about trends and dining metrics across the UK than CGA, and he can give a completely independent benchmark as to where Leeds currently is.”

“Lucy Noone, a Leeds Beckett graduate, worked for some of the UK’s finest hospitality operators before a role talent-spotting the world’s coolest food concepts for Allied London, and is thus perfectly placed to inspire Leeds as to what it could and should be.”

And finally on Martin Wolstencroft, from Arc Inspirations:
“Martin is your archetypal hospitality entrepreneur. He knows Leeds back to front, but with expanding operations across Yorkshire and Manchester he brings a broader perspective and experience to go with his passion for the city.”
The first forum, entitled “Leeds: Past, Present and Progress”, will be hosted by The Tetley on Tuesday 25th April, from 4-8pm and will feature in the inaugural Leeds International Festival. All forums will be free to members, or £25 each for non-members.
Tuesday 27th June
Tuesday 5th September
Tuesday 17th October
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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - the face of waste Posted: 12 April

With the popularity of pop-ups and food vans exploding over the last few years, we are being prompted to ask more and more questions about the environmental impact of our food choices. Where a visit to a burger van in the 90s was unlikely to offer any more than polystyrene throwaways, canny innovation means that we no longer have to be so environmentally unfriendly on the run.

We spoke to Catherine Conway, packaging expert from the Sustainable Restaurant Association about “biodisposables” - the disposable, compostable, recyclable (and often recycled) crockery and cutlery that many forward-looking pop-ups, as well as permanent restaurants and cafés, are opting to use. Find out more about their Reduce, Reuse and Recycle campaign at

Questions for the thinking food supplier
It would be easy if it was as simple as “pop-ups should use disposable, compostable crockery”. But it isn’t. Everyday restaurants need to calibrate their environmental impact too (working out how much energy is spent on the dish washing process is vital), and even choosing biodegradable is pretty useless if the packaging isn’t going to get composted. As Catherine highlights, “biodegradable packaging causes big problems in landfill”. 

But it’s also about a change of mindset. “Businesses should be encouraging sustainable behaviour,” according to Catherine – it’s very important that we see our vendors considering the waste and waste management issue. But there are issues that depend on the business’ control of the waste it creates. Catherine asks the main questions - “how do customers use the business? Eat in or take away, take away controlled (e.g. then disposed of within a university, office etc), or takeaway uncontrolled (out into the street, destination unknown)?” These considerations give an idea of what is and isn’t under the business’ control, and how much there is to think of.

“Providing disposal facilities onsite is as important as the choice of sustainable packaging,” Catherine points out. “You avoid this problem by using reusables – but you have to use reusables responsibly and ensure you have energy/water efficient processes for cleaning.” So, a clanking old dishwasher may actually be doing more environmental harm than properly recycled biodisposable crockery would do, even in a permanent restaurant setting.

As you can see, it requires more thought than simply, ‘yes, we’ll shell out for biodegradable’. Catherine highlights the next set of considerations (business, as well as environmental) for a permanent restaurant as well as a pop-up:

“what waste disposal options are available, what washing facilities are available (and how energy/water efficient are they), and what’s the time/cost benefit analysis (from a business perspective, as staff will have to do the washing so it must be factored in)”.

Considerations before you choose
We all know polystyrene and other non-recyclable plastic disposables are bad for the environment, but what specific benefits does biodegradable or compostable packaging offer?

- CO2 emissions savings (compared to other unsustainable, single-use packaging).
- Reduced material waste from landfill/incineration (if disposed of correctly).
- Virgin material savings (if using recycled materials).
- Behaviour change/customer education (if you talk to them about what you’re doing).
- Brand reputation – you’ll be seen to be doing the right thing.

Industry innovations
Catherine is well aware of the amazing innovations which have been made in the field of biodisposable packaging in the last few years. “Material choices have improved,” she notes, as “bioplastics are not a solution if you have to grow lots of crops (often in the global south) that humans could be eating, to service the throwaway culture of developed nations.” However superficially good it may feel to use bioplastics, we can see that depriving the developing world of good just to create throwaways for the developed world is more than morally dubious. But it’s not all doom and gloom -

“Companies are creating bioplastics out of proper waste (e.g. fibre from tomato plants) which is a leap forwards in terms of the moral question. Materials efficiency (doing more with less) is key too – whether it’s with sustainable or unsustainable materials – the design is key.”

 There has been much more focus on reusables – when even a massive company like Costa is promoting the Bring Your Own cup initiative, you can see that, from the customer angle, there’s more awareness and more desire to engage with the environmental question. Catherine also notes that “the development of products that can be separated easily into different waste streams for proper recycling” has made a massive difference, as people employ some connected thinking about the whole chain of production, through use to disposal/recycling. For example, disposable coffee cups are beginning to use traditional paper mills for the insides – where before, the plastic lining ensured that no cups could be recycled.

It’s not just for semi-permanent vendors…
Environmental impact is an important consideration for any business. Catherine has noticed “Oxo Tower switched from using polystyrene cups to porcelain cups”, and “a lot of restaurants are using cardboard boxes instead of polystyrene for fish deliveries, too”. Costa, as previously mentioned, have concentrated on reusables and making recycling more available in store. 

Do we need penalties for ignoring the environmental question? Catherine remarks that she does work with a contract caterer who “put a financial penalty on getting a disposable cup (as opposed to money off it you bring your own.” Maybe we need a change of mindset; instead of feeling extra good for recycling, perhaps we should be writing this as the new normal?
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Want to be a festival vendor? Posted: 24 March

We explore the ins and outs with Leeds Indie Food’s Matt Dix

Applying 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
It’s simple:

“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
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Festivals, Events and Event Catering: The good, the bad & the ugly  Posted: 22 March

To 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 panellists 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&, 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!’
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Gondola Raclette on Hidden Restaurants Screening Party Posted: 13 March

One the original 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 travelling 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!
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Why are breweries phasing out cask? Posted: 6 March

Quite 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%.”

Money Talks
“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.
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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.
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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
Belgrave Feast
Peddler Market

Peddler Market
North Leeds Charity Beer Festival
Tideswell Food Festival
Sheffield Folk Sessions Festival
Wath Festival
Live at Leeds
Belgrave Feast
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
LS6 Beer Festival
Belgrave Feast
Peddler Market

Yorkshire Vegan Festival
Burton Agnnes Jazz and Blues
Cleckheaton Folk Festival
The Willowman Festival
5th Ryedale Jazz Festival
Vegan Street Food Festival
Belgrave Feast
Peddler Market

The Great British Food Festival
Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink Festival
Wetherby Food Festival
Horsforth Food and Drink Festival
Otley Food and Drink Festival
Cocoon in the Park
Deer Shed Festival
Belgrave Feast
Peddler Market

Leeds Festival
Cottingham Folk Festival
Belgrave Feast
Peddler Market

Leeds International Beer Festival
Scarborough Jazz Festival
Belgrave Feast
Peddler Market
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Getting to know the IFDA's new appointment: Thom Hetherington Posted: 20 February

The 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
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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.
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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”.
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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 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!
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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.
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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.
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A Few Food Predictions of Our Own Posted: 3 January

Here 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.

Big trends: 
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.

Small trends:
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.
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A year in food and drink…a round-up of Leeds 2016 Posted: 19 December

If 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.
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Have a very Indie Christmas: An Indie inside guide to staying healthy over Christmas Posted: 16 December

We 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!
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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
2.       Funding
3.       Marketing
4.       Social Media
5.       Skills
6.       Websites
7.       Starting up
8.       Growing your business
9.       New Markets
10.     Innovation

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
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20% off exclusive training and development opportunity Posted: 28 October

Leeds BeckettWe have secured an opportunity with Leeds Business School for IFDA members to receive 20% discount on learning and development opportunities during November. Workshops include: Intermediate Social Media, Effective Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Digital Marketing, Business Planning using the Business Model Canvas, Public Speaking with Confidence, Mindfulness for Decision Making, Networking Skills, The Business Environment. You can book onto one or more workshops depending on your requirements.
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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. 

Please click on the enclosed PDF to learn more
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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:
Morning Session
9.30-10.00- Arrival, Registration and Coffees.
10.00-12.00 - Your 1-1 with our panel of Business Mentors, Coach and Advisors
Afternoon Session
13.30-14.00pm - Arrival, Registration and Coffees.
14.00-16.00pm - Your 1-1 with our panel of Business Mentors, Coach and Advisors

Mentors, Coaches, Advisors confirmed so far:
Sue Burgess ‘Head of Markets at Leeds City Council’Sue Burgess
Sue joined Leeds City Council in January 2010 to run the political leadership office, and has been Head of Markets since January 2011, where she is currently leading a multi-million pound refurbishment programme in a live retail environment.

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. 

Click here to register your place
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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.

For more information click here
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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

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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
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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

Book you place
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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.

To secure your place please register here

If you would like further information, please contact Jenn Coates on or 0113 812 5987.
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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. 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 Opportunity

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.

Please send your application by post to: Leeds City Council, Markets Service, 34 George Street, Leeds LS2 7HY or for electronic submissions please email:
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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 or contact the Markets information centre on 0113 378 1950

Click here for more information
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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:
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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.

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