Sheffield shows its appetite for food festival

The Great British Bake Off's James Morton with some of the Seven Hills WI ladies.

The Great British Bake Off's James Morton with some of the Seven Hills WI ladies.

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Cooking demonstrations, a city centre allotment, pop-up restaurants and a larger-than-life workhorse as part of Sheffield Food Festival doubled the usual number of visitors to the city centre.

Even organisers were taken aback at the turnout, which surpassed last year’s record-breaking event. Buoyed by glorious weather, city centre visitor numbers swelled over the weekend to nearly 250,000.

“It’s fantastic – I can’t quite believe it!” said Niki Baker, who co-ordinated the festival on behalf of Hallam University’s Sheffield Business School and the council.

Centrepiece of the three-day event was an urban allotment, complete with vegetables, herbs, an ‘edible potting shed’ – featuring green roof and walls – and Big Lad, a working horse at the Manor’s Green Estate, which masterminded the attraction.

“It was amazing,” said Niki. “They took my seed of an idea and grew it into this fantastic reality. I’d love to expand it for future years, maybe introducing a polytunnel and some more animals. We’ve been successful this year but we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to keep making changes to keep it fresh.”

City centre locations were transformed for the festival, which involved all aspects of the food industry, from growers and producers to retailers, restaurants and enthusiastic consumers. Highlights included the Festival Kitchen marquee in Fargate, with demonstrations by chefs including James Morton, star of last year’s Great British Bake Off.

He also announced the winners of the Best In Show baking competition, run by Seven Hills WI, whose cake stall raised more than £1,000 for local children’s cancer charity PACT.

Also supporting a local charity was Our Cow Molly, which teamed up with Mercury Taxis to sell £660 worth of ice cream. The proceeds went to St Luke’s Hospice.