6 September 2017 by Neil Sowerby

MANCHESTER Food and Drink Festival have unveiled the full programme of events for the celebratory 20th anniversary Festival. Check it out online or pick up a copy of the special birthday brochure across the city.

The original Manchester food party and, 20 festivals later, still the best, MFDFl offers up an unparalleled range and breadth of events, with something to please all palates.
This year’s Festival sees involvement from 252 partners including chefs, brewers, authors, street food traders, wine merchants, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, forgotten railways, community groups, pubs, bars and food foragers.
There are more than 100 events happening across the city and surrounding neighborhoods with food heroes descending on Manchester from all over the region and the UK. From Ella Mills’ first pop up outside London to Altrincham’s fabulous Sugo, both pitching up in the city centre for MFDF, the city is set to be the UK’s top food destination of the autumn.

The centrepiece is the Festival Hub on Albert Square, where the biggest and best-ever, free pop up food village will run for 11 jam-packed days. The Hub will be open from 12pm-11pm daily and will feature street food, an indie beer festival, gin, wine, chefs, masterclasses, pop up restaurants, live music and more. 

As well as the Hub happenings, there’s banquets in forgotten railway arches; fine dining extravaganzas in some of the city’s most glamorous restaurants; wine festivals; cocktail safaris; gin trails; food entrepreneur workshops; rustic basque banquets; ‘Manchester Tart-Offs’; craft beer tastings; cakes; ‘octogenarian cookery’; mushroom foraging… and, of course, the MFDF Gala Dinner and Awards. 

Below are a selection of Festival highlights, and there is a huge amount more detailed in the Festival brochure, which can be downloaded here.
Sold out events are not detailed below and they include:

Ella Mills Pop Up at the Hub 

Simon Shaw El Gato Pop Up at the Hub 

Matt Nutter’s Vegan Banquet at the Hub 

Sugo Pasta Kitchen Comes to Manchester at the Hub 

Hawksmoor Feast of Beasts


 The Festival Hub – life and soul of the party, Albert Square. Sept 28-October 8. Free.

Theheart of the action will remain at its traditional home on Albert Square, and will be a ‘better than ever’ bespoke  and fantastic, with a whole new design, layout and some exciting additions too.  In situ throughout the Festival will be the city’s best mix of street food traders (from Manchester and beyond), Vin Van Voom Wine bar, the CITYLIFE live music stage, the MFDF Live Cookery Theatre, an indie beer festival, a gin garden, wine tastings, pop up restaurants, masterclasses, workshops and more.

There’s even two Hub Cocktail Bars this year. Cocktail Institution, Be At One, will be serving up a range of their classic cocktails from September 28-October 3. including Porn Star Martinis, Mojitos and their specialty ‘Candy Pants’! Cocktails and Carbs, hosted by Laundrette from October 4-8 will be serving  an array of their delicious cocktails accompanied by candy floss, toasted marshmallows, bath tubs and ice cream. 

2 MFDF @ Mayfield.

Mayfield Depot, September 29-October 7. Ticketed.
Manchester’s abandoned railway station, and one of the city’s most jaw-dropping spaces, is the location for MFDF’s 20th birthday feasts.  Breathing new life into this forgotten space, Mayfield will be transformed for the Festival into an extraordinary dining room and party space. A unique, one-off chance to eat, drink and party in an awe-inspiring, historic, giant of a Manchester landmark.  

Friday September 29 – MFDF & Tampopo 20th Birthday Party 

Authentic, independent Pan Asian restaurant, Tamopop, is 20 this year too jut like MFDF. These two iconic Manchester food brands will be celebrating their joint birthday together the only way that both know how…with one great big gastro birthday party in a magnificent location. With DJ sets from Graeme Park, music from Happy Mondays’ Rowetta and lots of fabulous Tampopo food and drink, expect a hedonistic mix of full moon party fun and Manchester icons. Tickets include food, entertainment and welcome drinks.

Thursday October 5 – Hispi Meets The Unabombers 

A collaboration between food and drink innovator, Gary Usher, and club alchemists-turned-restaurateurs The Unabombers, this huge banquet-come-food party will bring together two of the hottest food brands in the north – The Refuge and Hispi – along with club pioneers The Unabombers as they DJ throughout.  A unique food experience awaits. Tickets include food, entertainment and welcome drinks.

Saturday October 7 Thomasina Miers: Day of the Dead

Forget the infamous "Spectre" opening scene, Thomasina Miers, the red hot Mexican food entrepreneur, brings a new gastro take on the infamous ‘Day of the Dead’ with a Mexican banquet every bit as fantastical as the venue in which it’s taking place. Tickets include food, entertainment and welcome drinks.

3 MFDF Indie Beer Fest

Festival Hub, September 28-October 8, 12pm-11pm. Free

This year’s Festival Beer Bar represents a non-stop, indie extravaganza of beautiful brews making this the ultimate 20th birthday beer fest. All on tap, all the way through MFDF, the Festival’s huge beer bar. What better way to toast the 20th anniversary of the Manchester Food and Drink Festival than by inviting 20 breweries from our world famous scene to contribute their finest beers to the party? Leading the way will be Brightside, Wildside, Ticketybrew, Black Jack, Runaway, Seven Brothers and the Manchester Brewing Co.

Alongside our local brews are the official beers of MFDF 2017, on tap throughout the festival. Shedhead, a 4.6% ABV American-style pale ale brewed in Sweden, and Brooklyn and Poretti lagers, from America and Italy respectively.  All of this housed under one, gigantic, all weather pop up beer hall complete with long tables, sofas, live music stage and room for dancing. 

4 Live Cookery Theatre

Festival Hub, various dates/times. Free.

Nisha Katona: Cookery Demo & Book Signing: Festival Hub: October 7, 12.30pm.
Owner of Mowgli restaurants, TV personality and food writer Nisha Katona (above) will be sharing her skills at her first MFDF cookery demo, then signing copies of her new book, ‘The Spice Tree’.   

Thomasina Miers: Cookery Demo & Book Signing: Festival Hub: October 7, 2pm. Ex-Masterchef winner and Mexican food expert Thomasina comes to the MFDF. The prolific author and Guardian columnist is is demonstrating recipes from her latest book, “Home Cook by Thomasina Miers” and signing copies afterwards. 

Aiden Byrne: Cookery Demo – Festival Hub: October 7, 3:30pm. A prodigious talent, Aiden is renowned in the City for opening the fine dining Manchester House with Living Ventures which sent his profile soaring. It immediately scooped an unprecedented hat-trick of triumphs at the 2014 Manchester Food and Drink Awards – Best Restaurant, Best Bar and Best Newcomer – and now holds a coveted four AA Rosettes.

Ed Baines: Cookery Demo and Q&A: Festival Hub: September 29, 1pm. Chef/founder of Randall & Aubin, Ed is best known for his role as a judge on ITV’s hugely successful Britain’s Best Dish. He is hosting his own masterclass and Q&A session at the Hub, sharing some of the secrets of his legendary Soho brasserie, an offshoot of which has transferred to Manchester this year.

Kwoklyn Wan: Cookery Demo & Book Signing: Festival Hub: October 7, 5pm
Brother of stylist and foodie Gok Wan, Kwoklyn will be coming to Manchester to demonstrate recipes from his new cookery book, ‘Chinese Soul Food’, and signing copies afterwards.  

Ella Mills: Q and A/Book Signing: Festival Hub: September 30, 4pm. Award-winning cookery author and entrepreneur Ella Mills will be at the Festival Hub for a Q&A, sharing some of the secrets of her phenomenal success story and signing copies of her book, ‘Deliciously Ella With Friends’. 

5 Fever-Tree Gin Garden and The Dark Spirit Den
Festival Hub, September 28-October 8, 12pm-11pm. FreeAn array of extraordinary gins will be on the menu via the free to enter Fever Tree Gin Garden and Dark Spirits Den. As ever, festival goers will be able to create their very own bespoke, ‘ultimate’ G&T with a host of gins available, all chosen to perfectly pair with the Fever-Tree range of mixers.  This year that will include the biggest collection yet, including Premium Tonic, Naturally Light Tonic, Mediterranean Tonic, Elderflower Tonic, Aromatic Tonic and Lemon Tonic.
The new Dark Spirits Den will be the ultimate festival hangout with visitors able to sample their favourite dark spirits, as well as gin, with the most appropriate Fever-Tree mixer. There’ll be live entertainment from local musicians and songwriters from across Manchester and undercover seating all in a specially created space inspired by the contrasts of light and dark. 

6 MFDF Big Indie Wine Fest
Manchester Hall, Bridge Street, October 6 and 7. Ticketed.

One of Manchester’s best known buildings, located at the gateway to Spinningfields, Manchester Hall is a Grade II listed building that will be hosting this year’s Big Indie Wine Fest, one of the most popular events at MFDF. With an extra special bonanza of independent wine merchants bringing the highest quality wine, this event is one not to be missed. Serving new wines from Croatia to independent French wines, the event will also host a session of masterclasses including a wine tasting masterclass by the BBC’s Kate Goodman.

7 Cup North 

Festival Hub, October 1, 12pm-6pm. Free.

Cup North, the people behind Manchester Coffee Festival, will be popping up at the Hub to present a day of tasting, talking and learning. Inside the coffee tent there will be the opportunity to try and buy coffee from a range of local roasters including Heart & Graft, Ancoats Coffee Co. and Passionfruit. Visitors are invited to engage with a number of free talks and demos throughout the day, all aimed at bringing consumers closer to the world of professional coffee making.

8 Cheese and Ciderologist

Festival Hub , October 4, 6.30pm. Ticketed.

Moss Cider Project founder Dan Hasler and new found friend Gabe Cook AKA The Ciderologist (Channel 4's Sunday Brunch go-to cider guy) hosy an evening of food and cider pairings from near and far.These dapper gents, one with the finest facial whiskers this side of Herefordshire, will guide you through five courses of cheese and cider's weird and wonderful customs from around the globe and closer to home. Tickets from here

9 A perfect match – wine and beer tasting 

Festival Hub. October 6, 7pm. Ticketed.

BBC star and founder of Reserve wines, Kate Goodman meets Cloudwater Beer extraordinaire, Paul Jones. One of the key figures behind Manchester’s micro beer boom, Paul will be teaming up with Kate for the first time to host a fascinating evening exploring the cultural and gastronomic differences between wine and beer alongside the best food pairings for each, provided by Wolf House Kitchen.

10 Manchester Tart Off and Forever Manchester Bake Sale

Festival Hub, Sunday October 8, 12pm-6pm. Free.

In celebration of 20 years of MFDF, the Festival are resurrecting a competition that was staged in year one – the search to find the best Manchester Tart in Manchester.  The people of Greater Manchester will be asked to put their heart into the tart and enter their homemade creations so that the ultimate Tart of Manchester can be crowned. To enter, budding bakers and trainee tarts should email George@foodanddrinkfestival.com 

On the judging day join us for the annual Forever Manchester Caketober Charity Bake Sale, all proceeds supporting community activity across Greater Manchester. If you would like to bake and donate your wares for the sale contact emmaj@forevermanchester.com

11 Just Eat 

Student Supper Club
Festival Hub, October 2. Ticketed.

Just Eat are offering 40 lucky students a chance to join them at The Hub at Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2017 on Monday October2 . The evening will start with a drinks reception, followed by a complimentary three course dining experience with Didsbury’s finest Indian restaurant, Indique, as well as live entertainment.  All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning tickets for you and three friends for this fabulous event is email hello@foodanddrinkfestival.com from an accredited college or university email address with your name, age, telephone number and the name of the Indian Restaurant providing the food for the evening. 

Just Eat Street Kitchen at The Hub
Festival Hub, September 28-October 8. Free.

As official Online Takeaway Partner for MFDF 2017, Just Eat offers more than 700 Just Eat restaurant partners to choose from, and what better opportunity to showcase them than by bringing them to the Festival Hub in Albert Square? So, with the help of their customers, they’ve selected some of their highest rated restaurants to serve up quality food for all budgets, tastes and appetites. Just Eat welcome The Pasta Project, Oishi Q, Strip Health, Italian Express, Kings Treats and Naasouk to their Festival Hub pop-up, throughout MFDF. 

12 Bookatable Festival Feast
Across the city. September 28-October 9. Book online.

As the exclusive booking partner of Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2017, Bookatable helps foodies to discover and book the city’s best restaurants.This partnership celebration of dining out takes place across Manchester’s favourite restaurants – you’ll find festival menus at your chosen high street spots, as well as the city’s most luxurious fine dining establishments.  Whether you’re a seasoned Manchester foodie looking to return to your favourite restaurant, or a dining-out newbie on the hunt for an amazing-value experience, there are special MFDF/Booktable menus out there for everyone. Explore the menus here

13 MFDF Gala Dinner and Awards

The Principal Manchester, October 9. Ticketed.

The MFDFl Gala Dinner and Awards returns to the beautiful and iconic Principal Manchester. The most prestigious food awards in the North will be distributed and this year there’ll be 20 awards for 20 years.

14 City Life Music Stage
Festival Hub, September 28-October 8. 12pm-11pm. Free

If you thought the Manchester Food and Drink Festival was just about eating and drinking, think again. As ever, MFDF sets itself apart from the rest with its programme of fantastic live music all the way through the event.  Across the 11 days of the Hub, you will be able to tune in, dance or just chill-out, to an eclectic mix of amazing artists. 

Names to whet the appetite include:
Christian Burrows – Boltonian X Factor sensation whose debut single Two Again was a big hit; Ben Williams – Manchester’s hotly tipped singer-songwriter; Corella – new indie heroes; Lily Jo – pop soul singer-songwriter;  Dave Fidler – local singer-songwriter legend; ‘The Chanteuse’ aka Manchester’s finest vocalist and MFDF stalwart Lucy Hope (pictured above) – performing a live world premiere, her new, french-language album, Sings Modiano. This chanson extraordinaire’s album is superb listening, released in both the UK and France. www.thechanteuse.co.uk; Scruff of the Neck – The North’s coolest promoters present a fascinating night of stunning music, featuring the powerful hooks of Cosmo Calling, the energetic Opera Comic, soul sensations Deliah and groove laden Maisie Johnson; Joel Valentine & Katy Alex – Merseyside singer-songwriter with great pop hooks; Whitley Ruchea – a unique urban DJ from the Midlands; Audio Beats/Whoever and the Somethings –The Northwest’s best covers dance bands. Expect Stevie Wonder to Fleetwood Mac, Chaka Khan and The Roses with some help from some top DJs too. Full programme available at the Festival website.

15 MAD Cocktail Week

Hula, Rosylee, The Fitzgerald, Walrus and Tusk. September 28-October 8. Ticketed and free.

Shaking things up with a celebration of all things cocktail, MAD Ltd will be hosting a series of pop-up events, bespoke serves and exclusive discounts across their five Northern Quarter bars. Full details on the MFDF website.

16 Champagne and Oyster Tasting with Randall and Aubin
The Festival Hub, Albert Square. September 28 from 7pm. Ticketed. 

Learn more about the decadent world of Champagne. Let Manchester’s newest French brasserie, in conjunction with Hallgarten Druitt & Novum wines, enlighten you at an exclusive eveningof bubbly and bivalves.  Book early to secure a place as spaces are limited.

17 Take a Journey Through Spain with Iberica  

Iberica, Spinningfilelds. October 4 from 6pm. Ticketed.

In a revelatory hands-on Spanish experience, kick off with a chance to mix your own G&T and drink it before learning from head master carver Sergio Escudero all about Jamón Ibérico through a live carving demo while enjoying a glass of bone-dry Manzanilla. Then enjoy head chef Nacho Linares’ (above) bespoke menu including tapas and a dessert to share, with Paella Valenciana as a main course.To match these dishes– two special glasses of boutique Spanish wines.

18 Goatober at Koffee Pot 

The Koffee Pot, Oldham Street, October 8. Ticketed.

Darren Goodwin (Grafene), Mary-Ellen McTague (Manchester Art Gallery Café), Richard Sharples (Hispi) and James Whetlor (Cabrito Goat Meat) are cooking a four-course menu using kid goat meat or dairy in every dish. It’s part of an entire month nationwide devoted to celebrating dishes made from male billy goats, which are usually discarded at birth as a waste product of the dairy industry.

19 The Music Quiz and Manchester Challenge

Festival Hub, October 8. Free, reservation of place online required.

Guide and author Jonathan Schofield offers 40 questions and challenges on Manchester, Greater Manchester and their people, places and events. Includes a Musical Challenge, sung intros round by Lucy Hope. Fabulous prizes plus the chance to buy the new extended guide to Manchester by Jonathan and other Manchester Books Ltd publications. Short break in the middle with live music from Lucy. 

20 Basque Banquet

Baratxuri Y Comedor, Ramsbottom, October 3. Ticketed  

Whole fish and big cuts of meat roasted and chargrilled in the pintxos masters’ new Pereruela wood-fired oven. All Asado (roasted) dishes are cut and served at the table with sides and rescoldo veg cooked in the embers of the fire. Tickets from the bar or email info@levanterfinefoods.co.uk.