The appetite for the Leeds Indie Food Fest is set to stay as organisers reveal plans that will see the event have an impact all year round.
This year will be the fifth festival and with 94 events taking place over 18 days, it is the biggest one yet and takes place from May 9 to 27, but the city’s independents are set for the next course.
Simon Fogal, festival director with his new firm Chapter 81, unveiled plans to make the event more sustainable during a launch event at The Belgrave on Monday night along with Leanne Buchan from Leeds City Council.
Mr Fogal said Leeds Indie Food 2018 made £700,000 for independent businesses and had cost £40,000 to stage but he didn’t want to keep asking businesses taking part to offer discounts.
He said: “I hate going to the independents and asking them for a discount for the festival.
“LIF was not set up to do that – it was about getting people to work together.”
Leanne added: “There was a long conversation about sustainability. The 18 days is great but this would not be possible without the independents so how do we support them all year round, particularly around growth – moving into second, third and fourth sites and into other cities?”
Several schemes have been set up that will help the city’s food and drink businesses with anything from up-scaling to flood damage.
Over the next six months, LIF will work with partners across the city to establish a new Leeds Indie Food Fund, thought to be the first of its kind in the north.
The fund will support the independents to develop and test new ideas, reach new audiences and scale up their eateries, bars, restaurants and pop-ups.
Once established there will be an emergency fund where businesses in need – for example if they are hit by a flood – can ask for some financial help to get back up and running.
This year will see the launch of the Indie 500 club which will be a B2B club for street food vendors to fine dining restaurants, breweries and bars where members can expect training, networking events, conferences, talks and socials.
And for the foodies who are always hungry for events there is the opportunity to become a patron of the festival.
Previous years had a passport scheme giving discounts for the duration of the festival but the £40 Patron scheme gives invitations for private viewings and openings, free beers and priority access to events all year round.
Mr Fogal said: “The Indie 500 is an idea at this stage and we want to do some testing throughout the festival to see if it useful and relevant. We can also look at training and supply deals and things that take businesses a lot to do themselves.”
Beyond this year, LIF hopes to create Leeds Indie Food Factory – a test kitchen and development centre for new food and drink start-ups.
Mr Fogal added: “By 2030 when Leeds hopes to have achieved its ambition to become the ‘Best City’ we want to have helped it along the way by supporting the creation of 30 new food and drink start-ups, training 200 new chefs, producers, makers and purveyors in the art of food and drink, and welcoming more than 10,000 visitors or our new home.”