Media Enquires: please see our Press Kit
York Food Festival
Would you like to volunteer your time? The most popular volunteer activity is teaching in the hands on "Food Factory", but you may also be interested in helping with the charitable collection on the live music evenings, or helping us with data collection, or with the demonstration compèring, or serving in our local produce cafes / bars. Please click to fill out our online form.
York Food Festival runs events throughout the year celebrating local and regional food and drink, with the main 10-day festival held at the end of September. It is a not-for-profit organisation and any money generated from ticket sales goes back into the festival to improve it year after year!
History of the Festival
York Food Festival began in 1997 and was run by the local tourism partnership. Initially, the festival aimed to bring celebrity chefs to York and to run a food market around them. In 2004 Michael Hjort became the creative director of the festival and in 2007, the festival changed hands to be run by a not-for-profit organisation in partnership with City of York Council. Subsequently, the festival changed its aims. Now, the festival focuses on Yorkshire produce and chefs. Its objective is to educate and provide cookery lessons, demonstrations, and events to celebrate Yorkshire food and drink.
The Festival Directors
Michael Hjort – Artistic Director – trained with Roux Restaurants. In the 1990s, he returned to his native York to open Melton’s restaurant with his wife Lucy. In 2001, they opened Melton’s Too (now The Chopping Block at Walmgate Ale House) in the centre of York. Both restaurants are known for using local, seasonal produce cooked to order. Michael has been a part of York Food Festival since it began in 1997.
- To promote local food producers, independent restaurants and retailers in York.
- To provide educational and fun workshops and cookery demonstrations to encourage people to eat healthy, homemade and locally sourced food.
- To establish York as a culinary hotspot and a place to visit all year round (not just for the festival), building on: York’s history as a chocolate city and historic market; the city’s talented food specialists and the qualities of Yorkshire food.
- To transform the city streets throughout the days and evenings during the festival with a wealth of activities for all ages to enjoy.
Some overlooked aspects of the festival include:
- Schools Programme – The Schools Programme invites York primary schools to attend workshops and demonstrations from local producers and chefs. Over 700 students attend each year to learn about cooking local, healthy meals. To register your interest in the Programme, please email us.
- Junior Chefs Competition – The Junior Chefs Competition allows young food enthusiasts to show off their cooking skills and one is ultimately awarded the accolade of Junior Chef of the Year. To sign up for the competition, please email us.
400,000 visitors are expected over the ten days in September, as well as 1000 school children.