Union StUnion St

By Matt


As we wash our hands of 2016 and welcome the new year with excitement, hope and resolutions aplenty, it seems to be the perfect time for trying new things and embracing fresh opportunities. From signing up to gym classes to ticking off calendar days in the pursuit of a Dry January, it’s a time for implementing change… whether or not we make it to the end of the month is a different matter!

At Union Street there’s always something exciting happening, but it seems especially fitting to be welcoming new plant-based food project FANFARE to the Pop-Up Café line-up this month. There has surely never been a better time to be vegan in Sheffield, with a whole host of events, restaurants, cafés and festivals exploding across South Yorkshire in recent years.

FANFARE’s four-person team comprises Mikk, Ben, Carolyn and Rheanna, and is run as a workers’ co-operative, so the four founders are all on an equal footing when it comes to decision-making. While the quartet certainly share an interest in plant-based diets and wellbeing in general, their different backgrounds and various passions have allowed for each to put their own stamp on the project.

Ben created the initial outline for FANFARE a year ago and for him it was all about creating really exciting plant-based food that packs a punch – food so tasty and healthy that it deserves to be celebrated and served up with a little bit of pizzazz.

First onboard was Mikk, a keen runner and artist. Mikk has his finger on the pulse when it comes to the vegan food scene in the city and even runs his own vegan and vegetarian network on social media.

“It’s an exciting time to be vegan in Sheffield,” he says, “and in the wider society it’s being promoted by all types of people from Hollywood celebrities to elite athletes. People are choosing a vegan lifestyle for all sorts of reasons, whether it’s health or ethics or something else.”

Carolyn has been cooking plant-based food for over 20 years and has travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting vegan shops, restaurants and events. She is a fount of plant-based knowledge and knows exactly what works and what doesn’t in vegan eateries! Over time she has seen the change in availability of ingredients, and loves how accessible it is to follow a plant-based diet today. Ingredients are readily available, chefs are becoming inventive with meat- and dairy-free dishes, and plant-based diets are moving happily into the mainstream.

Rheanna – who came back to her home-town of Sheffield having completed a degree in Culinary Arts and worked in some renowned London kitchens – has a special interest in sugar-free baking and creates divine treats using natural sweeteners instead of refined sugars. She has managed to win over the others with the magical properties of dates in recipes – even self-confessed cake addict Mikk!

The first event for the new team was in Barnsley in October 2016 and they hit the ground running. People loved their vibrant flavour combinations inspired by cuisines all over the world. They were blown away by the reaction from customers, and from this moment on, FANFARE became a reality.

“We’d heard so much about Union Street,” explains Ben, “and we were really keen to get involved here. We had looked at places who might accommodate our pop-up, but Union Street doesn’t just accommodate start-ups, it makes things happen.”

For Mikk, the collaborative atmosphere was a real eye-opener and pleasant surprise: “Other places just want to rent you some space, Union Street want to be involved and provide support in whatever way they can.”

So what is on the menu for FANFARE? The first thing for certain is that it’s going to be filling, dispelling any rabbit food myths, and secondly it will absolutely get your taste buds tingling. The plan is to offer three different bases – rice, tacos or salad – each to be served with a colourful, flavourful, vibrant topping that will be a joy to the eye as much as to the palate. Think along the lines of beer-battered aubergine, smokey pulled jackfruit and pol sambol (a Sri Lankan dish made from lime, coconut and curry leaves), so we’re looking at sizzle, smoke and spice galore. Almost everything on the menu will be gluten-free, too.

Whether you’re a long-standing vegan, getting on board with ‘Veganuary’ or, more importantly, just someone who loves a good plate of tasty, healthy food, then this new pop-up is going to be well worth sampling… let the fanfare commence as they arrive at Union Street on Friday January 27th.

Follow them on social media @fanfareproject to keep up to date with the menu.

About Matt
Matt co-ordinates Union St and Champions Enterprise Nation in Sheffield. For feedback, questions or suggestions please email matt@union-st.org