Thousands of visitors will descend on Sheffield city centre this June for a feast of a celebration – the tenth edition of Sheffield Food Festival.
Sheffield’s biggest free to attend event returns with a special royal theme as it takes place over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend (June 2 to June 5).
We spoke to some of the star traders attending to give visitors a sneak preview of the food and drink they can sample over the action-packed weekend.
For fourth generation farmer Stephen Thompson, of Sheffield’s award-winning Moss Valley Fine Meats, the festival is a welcome way to meet customers face to face.
He said: “I don’t think we’ve missed a Sheffield Food Festival yet! It has grown and grown and it is great because we get a lot of customers that come to see us having eaten our meat in restaurants or at home.”
The irresistible smell of sizzling premium bacon, black pudding and sausages always brings in crowds to the Moss Valley stand. And customers can also stock up on their favourite products to take home.
Stephen said the festival run by Events Collective was a way to showcase Sheffield-made ingredients and teach people where their food really comes from.
Sheffield Food Festival regularly attracts 50,000 visitors, including people from across Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
Stephen added: “The festival brings a lot of people to Sheffield and teaches them about what local food is, what the producers are trying to do.
“It’s a good thing, people are getting more involved now in where their food comes from which is going to be more and more important.”
Drinks trader the Locksley Distilling Co Ltd is gearing up to mark its own tenth anniversary milestone next year.
Started by John Cherry in his parent’s attic back in 2013, the company now has a distillery, runs a gin school and core product the Sir Robin of Locksley gin is as well-known as its legendary outlaw namesake.
Visitors to Sheffield Food Festival this year can taste samples of the versatile sipping gin at the Locksley stall before taking a bottle home.
“We love the festival”, said co-owner and distiller, Cynthia King, a native New Yorker and John’s wife.
“It is great to be on our home turf with lots of friendly faces.”
Recently the team have collaborated with exciting Sheffield food businesses on different products, from recipes at Rafters fine dining restaurant to a special gin for The Crucible Theatre’s 50th anniversary.
Cynthia added: “At the festival we will have our core range but also one or two of the collaborative products as well. We do get festival regulars – people come up and say they were hoping to see us and ask if we have anything new to try.”
While 90 per cent of traders at Sheffield Food Festival are local, the buzzing atmosphere means some businesses travel for the occasion each year.
The team behind Gurdev’s Indian Street Food make the 180 mile return journey from Birmingham on every day of the festival.
Yourap Singh, owner of the five-year-old family business, said: “We have been coming to Sheffield Food Festival for quite a few years now.
“That’s because it is very multicultural, with different cuisines, and very well organised. We do all sorts of events up and down the country but this is one of our favourites.”
Gurdevs, named after Yourap’s eldest son, serves authentic Punjabi food.
Some of its most popular dishes include samosa chaat and chicken tikka naan, as well as vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.
Yourap added: “We have repeat customers all the time, people ask if we have a restaurant in Sheffield because they see us every year.
“If we are there for four days some people will come every day. People who come from India or students love the samosa chaat, they will bring their friends or colleagues to try it, and before we know it we have a group of 12 people outside the stall all eating samosa chaat together!
“We get great support from the local people.”
Innovative ice cream entrepreneur Yee Kwan Chan will be known by many food-lovers who visit the festival.
Her Asian inspired ice creams and sorbets were a big hit on TV series Dragon’s Den, now they are stocked by multiple restaurants as well as Ocado.
But it all began right here in Sheffield.
Yee Kwan said: “I think Sheffield Food Festival was one of the first events I went to after starting the business.
“It’s a really great way to showcase local products and support local businesses, as well as trying new products that you haven’t had before.”
The Yee Kwan ice cream stall will be based in the Peace Gardens and offer scoops of flavour such as black sesame seed, matcha green tea, lychee or mango and passionfruit.
“We find that people always have their savoury course first”, added Yee Kwan.
“After 1pm it gets busy as people seek us out to cool down. With most ice cream places you always get the same flavours so we offer something new and different to try.”
The food festival is split into four key sections this year, including a traditional market, street food section, demo stage in the Eats, Beats and Treats Village and a Green Village focusing on sustainability.
Music, cookery demonstrations and children’s activities will also be on offer and there will be a special nod to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee throughout.
The festival will run from 10am until 6pm between June 2-5 2022, with the Eats, Beats and Treats festival village open until 10pm each day.