First programme announcements for Manchester Food and Drink Festival

The Unabombers team up with Hispi's Gary Usher, Deliciously Ella hosts her first pop-up event outside of London, Thomasina Miers stops by for a Day of the Dead party and more

Feature by Jess Hardiman | 22 May 2017

Manchester Food and Drink Festival returns this autumn, this time celebrating its 20th birthday with a shedload of banquets, pop-up dinners, beer tasting events, wine festivals, and fringe events. 

With the first wave of events now announced, we pick out what we're most looking forward to.

[Chef Gary Usher]

MFDF at Mayfield 

Manchester's stunning abandoned railway station will become home to MFDF's 20th birthday banquets, promising an atmospheric dining space that's steeped in Mancunian history.

On Sat 30 Sep pan-Asian restaurant Tampopo will be also be celebrating 20 years in the game with a joint birthday bash packed with 'fabulous food, full moon fun and Manchester icons', before Thu 5 Oct makes way for Hispi Meets the Unabombers, where club alchemists-turned restaurateurs the Unabombers will team up with Sticky Walnut/Burnt Truffle/Hispi/Wreckfish innovator Gary Usher for a huge banquet-come-food party.

The series then concludes on Sat 7 Oct with former MasterChef winner and Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers, who'll be throwing a Day of the Dead party featuring a fantastical Mexican banquet.

Festival hub highlights

[El Gato Negro]

As always, the festival hub will also welcome acclaimed chefs and well-loved food and drink personalities, including El Gato Negro founder/chef patron Simon Shaw, who'll host an authentic Spanish pop-up feast on Fri 29 Sep, featuring the modern and traditional Spanish flavours and techniques that his King Street tapas joint has become famous for.

On Sat 30 Sep, Deliciously Ella entrepreneur and cookery author Ella Mills will be bringing her MaE Deli brand to Manchester for her first ever pop-up event outside of London, before Matt Nutter – the man behind acclaimed Stockport restaurant Allotment – hosts a seven-course vegan tasting banquet on Thu 5 Oct.

[Cloudwater beers]

As the festival draws to a close, the hub will welcome Reserve Wines' Kate Goodman as she teams up with Cloudwater's Paul Jones for A Perfect Match, a wine and beer tasting with food pairings from Wolf House Kitchen on Fri 6 Oct. The next day Jones will return for 20 Years of Beer, joining Manchester Beer Week's Connor Murphy for a tasting event and discussion exploring the past two decades of beer in Manchester. 

Best of the rest 

[Illustration: Bethany Thompson]

Festival favourite the Big Indie Wine Fest returns on Fri 6 & Sat 7 Oct, taking over the grand, Grade II-listed Manchester Hall (located at the gateway to Spinningfields) with a special line-up of wine merchants serving everything from new wines from Croatia to independent French wines, plus a series of masterclasses including a wine tasting masterclass with Kate Goodman.

And as well as the core festival events, there will also be a Festival Fringe programme featuring a whole host of other food and drink events across Manchester's restaurants, bars, cafes, delis, museums and more, with confirmed venues including Manchester House, Harvey Nichols, Hawksmoor, Gusto, Epernay and Australasia.

Manchester Food and Drink Festival takes place from 28 Sep to 9 Oct 2017; for more information head to