Food & Drink Thursday, June 23rd Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: Adam Knight

A Rule of Tum launches Hereford Indie Food festival

Food & Drink Thursday, June 23rd

A Rule of Tum launches Hereford Indie Food festival

Hereford Indie Food | August 27-28 | Berrington/Aubrey Street

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There is festival food, and there are food festivals.

The former – which, in all likelihood, you have had first-hand experience of – consists largely of reheated pulled pork slopped on to a bun and handed down to you from a caravan by a 15-year-old with a bad beard and a henna tattoo on his hand, which he holds out as you search for the £17.50 it costs for this Happy Meal that you-didn’t-really-want-but-feel-you-should-eat because it’s been 72 hours since you consumed something solid.

There’s that. And then there are food festivals.

When done right, they’ll put joy in heart and magic in your belly.

And given the guys heading up the newly-created Hereford Indie Food festival (Aug 27–28, 2016), well done is not just going to be a term restricted to your grandma’s burger order.

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This summer Jon Stead, Edwin and Dorian Kirk – collectively known as A Rule Of Tum – are bringing a food fest back to the wilderness.

If you’ve ever eaten under the bare bulbs of the Burger Shop - or the Bookshop - it’ll be no great surprise that their vision is to cut small town charm with a little East London edge.

Where “Flavours Of Herefordshire” rambled, Hereford Indie Food will be more refined. The skinnycut to its predecessor’s bootleg.

First up, there will be no Mary Berry. This is a Herefordshire food festival, and God knows we’ve got enough from the furrow to the frying pan, in and around this county to shout about.

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From Saturday night cocktails to Sunday morning communal breakfasts, the full range will be on show over the weekend.

Inside the Bookshop, the county’s most exciting slicers and dicers will host Chef’s Suppers, while outside street food, booze and produce will take over the courtyard carpark-come-secret woodland.1a

The Berry-less stage will be given over to panels of industry insiders talking all things food, farming and health, while the soundtrack to the weekend comes courtesy of a roster of bands and DJ’s, headlined by a set from a member of cucumber-cool rockers Alt+J.

"Our chef used to be in a band and toured with them briefly. They're really down to earth guys," Jon said.

"They actually came down to the Bookshop for the soft launch. They showed up for the party and we didn’t even know it was them. Gus, who’s doing the set, he’s got a café in London. Sandwiches, really great coffee, that kind of thing. They love what we’re doing here."

But the reason the guys are doing this now – just two years after launching their first restaurant, and at the same time as opening the Bookshop as a bar, with plans for more restaurants before the year is out (“Our way has always been to just go for it,  and then work out the details," Jon says) – has its roots in the festival’s original incarnation.

Back when John and Edwin were tossing dough and learning the business as managers of Pizza Hut, and Dorian was carting Herefordshire ingredients down the M4 to use in London's ubiquitous street food kitchens, the county had its first food festival.

With dreams of bigger and better - and less stuffed crusts - the soon-to-be AROT team started running supper clubs, cooking five-course feasts for around 50 guests a time. This soon led to a burgeoning reputation and a residency at the Hereford craft pub the Beer In Hand.

And while this blossoming association proved wildly popular, the fledging culinary company longed like a bright-eyed teenager to spread its wings and get its own place.

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Step in 'Flavours...'.

Through gallons of sweat and oil, the team raised enough money cooking over three days at that one festival to set up their own shop – a shop that has since become two shops, been nominated for the Observer’s Sunday Roast of the Year, and whose burgers have been given “a gold star and tick” from the frank and fearless food critic, the Guardian’s Jay Rayner.

Rayner closed that review on “[A Rule of Tum’s] serious commitment to doing the seemingly simple as well as it can be done.” Expect more of the same this August.

3aThe festival itself will be run as a not-for-profit event – the price of entry just about covering the wristband you’re given.

The idea is that it will bring back some buzz to a city with more innate culinary clout, if less marketing savvy, than neighbouring Ludlow and Abergavenny.

And conscious or not, it’s a nod to the event which launched a thousand Aubrey Street burgers just a few years ago.

"There is something masochistic about working in the hospitality industry," Jon said.

"You work these long hours, and the people around you, they become your community.

"That’s part of what of was and what is great about food festivals, you all get together and there’s big, special thing that you’re part of. It’s what drives me on, creating that community and it’s what we’re trying to do here.

"Hopefully in the future it will help other guys get the start we did."

The food, and booze and stalls – which also feature a Makers Market of ceramics and knives and screen printing - have been selected with the discerning force of someone who thought to pair pickled rhubarb with smoked mackerel burgers, and then serve it on a plastic tray with a handful of brown paper napkins, safe in the knowledge the juice will soon be running, gleefully, down your chin.

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Among the numbers will be BOHNS, a new-ish seasoning brand started by Tom Bohn, with a reputation for knockout flavours and great names (Butt Massge, for pork, and Rump Rub being personal favourites.)

And from those known simply by one name, and their meat proficiencies, Jake from Jake's Cured Meats will be producing a tasting menu by using as many parts of a single pig as is acceptable outside of ITV4 shows, and Farmer Tom - the enigmatic figure behind some of the Burger Shop's finest work ("he's big in the butchers world" - Jon) - will be doing something special with a roast lamb over coals, and some Greek-Cypriot sides.

The bar is being curated by a Hereford Dream Team of the Wye Valley Brewery - who will be bringing their new lager '1985' - Noble and Wild's wine gurus and The Shack Revolution, who will also be hosting a Shackoustic session on the music stage.

Ex-pat art collective Generic Greeting will be back in the Shire printing tees and dropping beats in equal measure, a double act that may come in uselful given the scientifc formula that is 'BBQ sauce + Vigourous dancing = New t-shirt required'.

And for the Sunday morning, the Rule of Tum team are opening up their weekly Team Brekkie to the city.

Jon said: "We normally have 15 people, this will be 150 people. I don’t know if we can poach eggs that quickly, but we’ll find out.

"Everyone gets their plate with some eggs on and then you get whatever else from the tables."

More info is set to be announced over the coming weeks and months, both here and on the festival's official site, as well as through A Rule Of Tum's gorgeous social media accounts here and here.

For now, just get excited.

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