Top cooks’ city tour

pictured at Artisan Restaurant Crosspool'Chef's Daniel Gower, Artisan. David McKown., chef Simon Clarke Silversmiths, & Tony Parkin Wig & Pen

pictured at Artisan Restaurant Crosspool'Chef's Daniel Gower, Artisan. David McKown., chef Simon Clarke Silversmiths, & Tony Parkin Wig & Pen

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THREE of Sheffield’s top restaurants entered into a groundbreaking partnership this week as the city gears up for its second annual Food Festival.

Artisan at Crosspool, Silversmiths in Arundel Street and city centre Wig & Pen by the Milestone will entertain some of the UK’s most respected chefs as part of a joint venture between the festival organisers and the Skills for Chefs conference.

And to ensure the 180 guests are able to experience all the restaurants, a fleet of coaches will whisk them from one to another between courses in an upmarket safari supper.

Tuesday’s meeting at Crosspool was a first chance for the three head chefs to plot their strategy and compare menus.

“It went very well. It was the first time we’d met and it’s very much a partnership – but you certainly feel the pressure when you’re up against other restaurants,” said Dan Gower, head chef at Artisan.

Their brief is to showcase pork and each chef has come up with his own variation on the theme.

The Wig & Pen’s Tony Parkin (fresh from the ‘world’s best restaurant’ Noma in Copenhagen) even managed to incorporate the key ingredient as a quirky decoration in his dessert.

This year’s Food Festival has been timed to coincide with the prestigious Skills for Chefs conference, organised by Sheffield University and starring keynote speakers including Tom Kitchin, Richard Corrigan and Nigel Haworth. The conference director is David McKown’

“The idea is to link some of the highlights of our food calendar, to show that Sheffield really has a place on the map,” said Niki Baker, head of Eat Sheffield.

“This year’s festival is really taking off. The response from local restaurants has been overwhelming – we’ve got double the number taking part in some events.

“It involves everyone, from newer places like Patoo and La Mama, to popular favourites who are demonstrating in the food kitchen: chefs like Andy Gabbitas, Jack Baker and Simon Ayres.”

Key features for 2011 will include a pop-up restaurant from the Milestone team – one of the attractions in a space-age marquee in Fargate.

Matt Bigland, Marc Sheldon and their team (who rose to stardom as Gordon Ramsay’s Best British Restaurant) will be operating a full service evening restaurant, with limited tickets sold in advance.

During the day they will run a bar and, in true festival spirit, will also join forces with friends from the East & West restaurant in Abbeydale Road to provide a canteen offering British classics alongside authentic South Indian cuisine.

Events in their pop-up restaurant will range from a Sunday feast and a charity dinner to live cookery and a pop-up cinema.

Other highlights of the festival will include a central demonstration kitchen, producers’ market, picnic area with stalls, a city centre farm and a teddy bears’ picnic. There will also be public lectures and debates, masterclasses, tastings and an ever-expanding programme of other events citywide.

Sheffield Food Festival runs from July 4-10 and is expected to attract around 40,000 people.

Details: www.sheffieldfoodfestival.com