Grub’s up! Guide to the York Food Festival – September 2014

18 Sep 2014 @ 10.36 pm
| Food & drink
Hungry yet? From the 2013 York food festival. Photograph © Allan Harris

The second half of this year’s two-part York Food Festival kicks in to gear on Friday (September 19). For the next ten days people will be making, talking and consuming scrumptious food and drink from the gardens of York Minster to the hilltop Holgate Windmill.

Food fest facts

  The market is in St Sampson’s Square. Other events take place across York city centre and beyond

  Friday, September 19 to Sunday, September 28

  Events range from free to £120

  York Food Festival website

Every event is listed here in our What’s On festival guide.

Because refurb work has pushed Newgate Market temporarily onto Parliament Street, home to the main food festival market in the past, there are fewer pitches for stalls than in previous years.

But a rotation of stallholders on St Sampson’s Square ensures a high variety of choice for returning festival-goers.

The same space restriction means there isn’t a full-sized cookery demonstration area – but this has seen new venues being brought in to play for the first time.

It all kicks off with the opening of a pop-up Fashion Bar at the Guildhall from 7pm on Friday, September 19.

So where do you begin your foodie odyssey? We asked festival director Michael Hjort to pick out a few highlights…

What’s new

There’s lots more hands on stuff to do this year, Michael says. There’s biscuit making in the Castle Museum kitchen, for instance.

Or head to the Guildhall for family friendly workshops on the two Saturdays of the festival (September 20 and 27) and you can make chocolate and pasta, or press apples with Professor Fiddlesticks.

“Pasta making is something I do with primary schools,” Michael said. Because it is so quick, “you can cook it and eat it at the end”.

During the week more than 600 primary school will be getting stuck in to the festival. And Michael estimates about 7,000 have taken part since its inception in 1997.

Elsewhere there are chocolate truffle making workshops at York Cocoa House, bread making at the Mansion House and Indian cookery at both the Coconut Lagoon on Clarence Street and York Cookery School, Clifton Moor.

Yorkshire’s finest

Thirst quencher: Hebden Tea. Photograph © Allan Harris

There’s an increased emphasis on local produce this year. And you don’t get more local than the Edible Garden public veg beds on Peasholme Green and outside the Barbican, where gardening sessions are being held.

In an event raising money for local charity York Against Cancer, the El Piano Community Table will serve up food for a fiver daily every day from noon till 2pm.

There’s a Yorkshire Produce National Trust Supper at the Guildhall, featuring confit of Yorkshire Duck Leg and local cheeses from Shepherd’s Purse.

The Apple For Eggs York autumn food swap will see home producers swap their grub – from bread to pickles to honey and, yes apples and eggs.

Perhaps the best way to get to know our foodie city is to fork out a fiver for the festival taste trail.

This guides you round our culinary hotspots. And at each one you can sample something of their wares.

Try some Kaleafornia Smoothie at ÜGOT on the railway station, lunch box specials at Tarts And Titbits on Gillygate, a gluten-free brownie at Stanley And Ramona on Bishopthorpe Road and a miniature Yorkshire Pud at the Whippet Inn, North Street.

Then wash it down with a speciality tea from the Hebden Tea Company on Shambles or a miniature cocktail at Applejack’s Sports Bar on Tower Street.

All the taste trail participants are offering discounts too.


Because of the market’s reduced footprint, Michael decided to follow the local theme and make it home to exclusively Yorkshire food and drink this year.

The number of stalls in St Sampson’s Square is down to 24 from 94 in Parliament Street years. But with different stallholders attending different days, and York Farmer’s Market joining in the fun on Friday, September 26, there’s still plenty of choice.

Look out for cakes from A Bit Of What You Fancy and Crumbs Cupcakery, fungi from Autumn Harvest Mushrooms and fish from Bleikers Smokehouse.

Bluebird Bakery will be selling its hand crafted loaves fresh from its York ovens, and sourdough breads are available from Haxby Bakehouse. Pies, fudge, chutney and chilli jam – the list goes on.

In the smaller demonstration tent the festival’s in-house chef Phil Leverington will be whisking up meals from the stallholders’ produce.

Full details of the market here.

Night life

“We have a very diverse evening programme,” says Michael, and he’s not wrong.

A whole series called Dine At My Table invites you in to various supper clubs from Acomb to Copmanthorpe.

In need of spiritual nourishment as well as the culinary variety? Come Dine With The Sisters at the Bar Convent.

Top chef Steph Moon will be attempting to cajole kitchen-phobic Lord Mayor of York Ian Gillies into creating a magnificent meal at the Can’t Cook Won’t Cook evening of fun at the Guildhall.



The biggest names at this year’s fest are undoubtedly the Three Wine Men. TV favourite Oz Clarke, ‘Jolly’ Olly Smith from Radio 2 and Saturday Kitchen drinks expert Tim Atkin (pictured above) will be together in the marquee in Deans Park, next to York Minster.

The three will be matching food with wine, giving demonstrations and more on the evening of Friday, September 26 and all day Saturday, September 27.

Oz Clarke is clearly looking forward to it. “York is one of the greatest cities in the UK and what better place to show off fabulous wine than with a stunning view of York Minster?” he said.

If you’re missing the holiday sunshine, perhaps the Spanish Wine And Tapas Evening at the Guildhall would bring back the memories. The same venue will host an Afternoon Tea And Fizz Tasting.

Meanwhile at one of the city’s newer pubs, the Duke Of York on King’s Square, there’s an evening with the most intriguing title of the festival: The Call of the Wine: Drinking and Psychology.

We’ve already given you a heads up regarding the York Beer Festival now well underway on Knavesmire. But there are plenty of events for real ale enthusiasts in town too.

These include two Guided Historic Pub Walks, starting from the Royal Oak on Goodramgate and the Minster Inn, Marygate, and a Real Ale And Live Music event at the Black Swan, Peasholme Green.

Bottoms up!