What do you get if you combine some of the north’s finest chefs and restaurants, music, a charity auction and a street food set up?
Well that would be Auction Against Hunger – a calendar fixture for those down in the capital (catch it next week), earlier this month it ventured a little further north, to Upper Campfield Market on Deansgate. The idea is simple – buy your ticket and you get to choose seven of 14 dishes created by some of the UKs best chefs (or do like we did, and go in a pair and sample all 14 between you). There were five drinks on offer too, as well as live music from Shaun Ryder, Mani, Argh Kid, Crazy P, A Certain Radio and the Winachi Tribe, and then (yes, there was still more) an auction of one-of-a-kind prizes and experiences donated by some of Manchester’s finest. All in the name of charity.
So this was where I found myself one evening, with my date – hungry, thirsty and ready to sample what was on offer – both at each stand, and on the auction menu.
When we arrived it was still relatively quiet, but that was swiftly resolved as the queue on the door deepened, so did the queues at the stands – the biggest of the evening being for the cauliflower dish from Maray – until we all fancied dessert, when the queue for the doughnuts at Finca, which meant for a whole chunk of the auction, people were still patiently waiting their turn.
Personally, there were so many favourites there, it was really hard to choose. So we didn’t. We shared everything. From the lamb’s heart taco with popcorn from the team at Beastro, to the pig’s head croquettes (on the menu, go and eat them, they’re fabulous) at Elnecot, to the dainty little Welsh rarebit tasters from Wood.
I loved the dish from Simon Rogan, but then I’m a sucker for artichokes and that rich, soft, earthiness they give, whilst the Fazenda team offered a buttery soft beef short rib with piquillo peppers – the sweet sharp heat cutting through the richness.
It was also opportunity for me to try some of the food from chefs I only follow on Instagram (at the moment). Luke French from Joro Restaurant over in Sheffield served a soft and buttery pork belly, that now means visiting that restaurant is way higher on my to do list than it was.
And the carrot cake from Masterchef star Anton Piotrowski means Roski Restaurant is a port of call next time I’m in Liverpool, as well as a stop off at Bacaro, because, well, Bacaro (and their braised ox cheek croquette with caramelised shallot aioli and truffle was one of the stand out dishes of the night).
Another venue now on my visit list is Ox Club in Leeds – I’m pleased to say I’ll be working their way in a few weeks, so will book in for a post gin serving feed. I mean I may just end up spending the money I’ll have just earned, but it will be worth it.
The event for me was proof, if I ever needed it, that we do some pretty damn good stuff up north. And whilst the auction ran a little hot for my half melted credit card, we can dig deep for a good cause.
If you missed this event, don’t worry. Along with their London event in September, they’re back up north hosting another event on 4 October as part of Manchester Food and Drink Festival, and you can find details here.