Chefs, restaurateurs, farmers and community groups gather at City Hall to plan Bristol’s food future
At Bristol’s City Hall on Friday 9th June, chefs, food growers, retailers, farmers, and representatives from community groups and businesses from across Bristol came together to plot how we could grow our city’s thriving and diverse food.
The morning’s speakers included Aine Morris, Creative Director for Bristol Food Connections, framing the topic for the day and inviting us to think about the essential role that food can play in bringing communities together. She was followed by Carolyn Steel, author of Hungry City, who spoke about the historical challenges of feeding ourselves and of the connections between cities and the countryside. She said: “We are an urban species. We think like an urban species but we operate in the natural world.”
Next up was Nadia El Hadery founder of YFood who set up London Food Tech Week, creating London’s first community around Food Tech entrepreneurs. Her talk was centred on the role that food tech start-ups can play in changing the food ecosystem. She spoke about innovations that are helping us reconnect with food and ran through some trends of fascinating forward-thinking start ups making headway:
“There’s a massive shift towards people eating plant-based diets. The biggest trend we are seeing for restaurants this year is more options of plant based dishes on the menu.”
Presenting on the creation of an inclusive food culture in the city across the diverse communities in Bristol were Steph Wetherell from the Real Economy, Ari Cantwell from the Coexist Community Kitchen, and Negat Hussein from the support group, Refugee Women of Bristol.
Next up was chef/owner of the restaurant Birch Sam Leach, Joe Wheatcroft who runs Source Food Hall and Café in St Nick’s Market, and Will Best from food discovery app Wriggle, all speaking on the subject of how they are looking to the future. At Birch they are focused on growing much of their fruit, vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant themselves. Similarly, Source Food Hall are exclusively selling honey from their own rooftop hives in Bristol’s St Nick’s Market. Will Best from Wriggle highlighted how the food discount app has grown in line with the city’s independent food scene.
Marc Richards, co-founder of Extract Coffee, talked about the company’s journey and Lynne Davis, founder of Street Goat, talked about her experience in keeping goats in the city of Bristol and how innovation and collaboration meant they found land in East Bristol to graze the goats, make the project viable, and are using the whole animal in their butchery process highlighting the responsibility they feel as animal holders.
Following an impressive seasonal lunch spread provided by Bristol chefs Chris Wicks and Adrian Kirikmaa of St Monica Trust, who were lent a hand by students from the City of Bristol College, the afternoon switched to a series of workshops on a variety of topics including; kids, food and education in Bristol, the relationship between farmers and the city’s food businesses, community projects in the city and more.
One of these sessions was led by Marti Burgess, a member of Gregg Latchams Food Drink and Hospitality team.
The sessions aimed to generate ideas and actions for Bristol’s food community looking forwards to the Food Connections Festival in 2018.
After the successful and celebratory day, Aine Morris, Creative Director of Bristol Food Connections, said:
“To bring Bristol together the day after the UK General Election has been a joy and an inspiration. Yesterday, 72% of 18-25 year olds turned out to make their voices heard. Today many of our speakers have been the creative young entrepreneurs mixing sustainable, community-led businesses with passion and drive. Today has left all of us inspired and full of hope about a more positive future that we all know is possible.”