AT Confidential we caught up with Sarah Ross, the creative director of Castlefield Food Festival, to find out all the gossip from this year's tastiest foodie event, held on Thursday 12 May – Sunday 15 May.
Manny Elias, the man behind the pickles, is actually the original drummer from Tears For Fears
Hi Sarah. What's new for Castlefield Food Festival this year?
It's our second year and this time around we're running the festival over four days instead of three. That's a whole extra day of great food, enticing aromas and the unbeatable Castlefield Food Festival atmosphere.
We're also upping the ante with our launch – a special new night market from 4pm until 10pm on Thursday 12 May. It's a chance to be one of the first to explore all the great food on offer.
We've also introduced masterclasses into the mix for the first time and there'll also be an all-new real ale bar.
We're looking forward to welcoming Dirk the Dutch Flower Man to Castlefield Bowl for the first time too. He's a popular fixture at various events and markets in the city and his stall will certainly add plenty of colour to the proceedings.
It all sounds great. Is it expensive?
You'd expect with all this that there must be some cost involved but the great thing about Castlefield Food Festival is that it's free to enter. Even the food and cookery demos are free – it's only the masterclasses which are ticketed events.
If we're looking for a few pointers, what tricks of the trade can we pick up?
I'm really excited about our new masterclasses. Kate Goodman from BBC Food And Drink will be holding a wine masterclass, Spanish restaurant and deli, Lunya, will be holding a Catalan cooking masterclass and we have a secret guest from The Great British Bake Off who'll be holding a special masterclass.
The Saturday sees free demos from the likes of Mary-Ellen McTague, David Mooney and Helen and Lisa Tse of Sweet Mandarin, There'll also be plenty of free hands-on cookery demos for the kids. It's a family day out and there's nothing better than getting the little ones interested in good food and how to make it.
We bet the food has you almost dribbling in anticipation. What can't you wait to sink your teeth into Sarah?
I need my bratwurst fix so I'm looking forward to Feast At The Forge with their delicious German pan house and grill offerings. On the street food side, I'm also tempted by Zouk who won best stall at Glastonbury 2015 and, as we're into local produce, how could I resist the Manchester Gin from Aaron Darke of Zymurgorium
From the farmer's and producer's markets, Bongo's Rock 'N' Roll Chilli Pickles sound like good fun. Manny Elias, the man behind the pickles, is actually the original drummer from Tears For Fears. Bizarre, isn't it? I wonder if he's played Castlefield Bowl?
I'm also looking forward to stocking up the pantry with produce from The Cumbrian Pie Company, Mr Fitzpatrick's Cordials and Just For Cheese.
After all this, I feel pretty full. Is there anything else on?
The live bands are going to be brilliant. There'll be music until 10pm with over 20 artists playing over the course of the festival. I love a bit of Elvis so I can't wait to see Tommy Holland's tribute to the King himself. He's only eighteen but he's phenomenal. Travellin' Strings, Bright Shapes and Liam McClair will also draw in the crowds. There's a real mix and variety and, what's more, it's all free.
Everyone loves a good competition. Is there anything we can win?
We have loads of great competitions this year. Send us a photograph or your table all set for a fab meal and use the hashtag #servingupmcr and you could win a case of ale, our favourite photo wins. See the competition here.
You can also claim a free pint at the festival here.
Finally, you can win two cases of wine via our competition here.
So, to sum up, what can we expect from Castlefield Food Festival?
It's all about quality local produce, sizzling street food and having a really fun family day out. It's free too, so you've got no excuse for missing out.