For me, the Press Launch of the Leeds Indie Food Fest ’16 started off with a religious experience. After I walked in the door of Headrow House I was handled a warm box of food, which very well could have been a mini ark of the covenant for all my tongue was telling me, and ate the best steak and chips I’ve ever had on British soil. Cooked by Ben Davy of the Belgrave Music Hall, it was the perfect way to begin an evening hearing about the 2016 Leeds Indie Food Festival. As my friend and I were discussing what magical ingredients Ben could have miraculously mixed to create such a tastebud epiphany, Matt Dix strides up to be interviewed on stage. Matt is the Festival Director of LIF16, having begun the festival because he thought Leeds deserved something ‘quite interesting’. The festival itself, started on Kickstarter in 2015, raised the £6000 needed in a mere six days, with the initial ten planned events turning into 120.
This year was intended to be ‘better not bigger’, but in fact, is ‘accidentally bigger’, with film showings (Chef in particular, which is being cooked along to on the 18th), art installations made of cake by the Tattooed Bakers and a Woman | Art | Food exhibition. Last year 16,000 people went to LIF16 events, but it appears their appetite wasn’t sated with some pleading with Matt to make LIF16 stretch across a month this year. But why set the food festival in Leeds? For Matt, what Leeds does best is casual dining where you eat incredible food but not always in a restaurant, instead from street vendors, cafes or pop-up restaurants like Belgrave or Bundobust. Hand-in-hand with casual dining comes the festival itself being, in Matt’s words, ‘transparent and open as possible’, with no entry fees and a range of events, from tiny intimate ones like Dinner at the Manor (already sold out) to the Belgrave Feast. Plans to ‘democratise’ the festival next year are already in the works, with suggestions like baking clubs and Matt hinting he wants to involve ‘university societies who like wine’. But, as ever, keeping to the LS postcode remains the chief prerogative for Matt, and during his interview his pride for the Leeds food scene becomes overwhelmingly apparent. The whole experience of organising the festival for Mat was – in his own words – a ‘flying by the seats of our pants’ experience, but judging by the amount of people at the launch, it’s a flight everyone wants to take with him.
The Leeds Indie Food Festival is running from the 12th – 30th of May, so keep you eyes peeled for tantalising opportunities to give your tastebuds free reign!
Image courtesy of ilikepress.co.uk