Food festival menu is growing

T’S a long time since cattle have roamed the city centre but they’ll be back this summer as Sheffield prepares to extend its annual food festival across the whole community.

An expanded city centre programme is set to transform Barkers Pool into a Festival Farm and Garden, complete with live cows and children’s playground, while Castle Square will become an allotment, growing strawberries and runner beans.

And neighbourhoods citywide will be encouraged to stage their own events, including picnics in the parks, foraging walks, have-a-go sessions and an allotment ‘call to arms’.

“Last year’s festival got us off to a good start, but it was focused on foodies – this year it’s got to be much more than that,” says city centre manager Richard Eyre, who is spearheading the 2011 festival.

“It’s going to be fun, interactive and inclusive. We’re trying to create a legacy so that in five years’ time it will be fully self-sustaining.”

This year’s event – from July 4 to 10 – will build on the success of the inaugural festival, but with key differences.

For a start, the team in charge is local: a partnership between the city council and Hallam University’s Sheffield Business School, which includes restaurateurs’ group Eat Sheffield.

The dates have been put back a month, to coincide with the national Skills for Chefs conference, hosted by Sheffield University.

Big names include a host of Michelin-starred chefs led by Richard Corrigan, Nigel Haworth and Sheffield’s own Rupert Rowley.

Conference director David McKown said: “Being able to tie in with the Sheffield Food Festival is an exciting new development and shows how important and well respected the food industry is within the city.”

The festival framework includes:

lFestival Restaurant Programme, targeting producers and suppliers – including a farmers’ market in Fargate and a food trail taking in restaurants, cafés and bars offering tastings for £1.

lFestival Classroom – with activities and masterclasses for foodies of all ages.

lFestival Kitchen – in a marquee at the top of Fargate, with demonstrations, talks, competitions and tea dances.

lFestival Farm & Garden – promoting field-to-fork awareness.

lFestival Health & Wellbeing – focusing on the Sheffield Food Plan and nutrition.

Other events include a real ale trail of micro-breweries, a food and drink quiz and behind-the-scenes tours of local producers.

Preparatory forums were held in Leopold Square on Monday, attracting more than 60 key people from the city’s food industry.

“We were delighted with the response,” said Eat Sheffield’s Niki Baker. “Now we want people all over the city to join in over the next few weeks.”

Richard Eyre added: “The message is: get involved, whether you’re part of a business or just sat at home. It’s going to be a festival for the people of Sheffield.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available, from £750 to £7,000.

Contact 273 6895.