This is a ‘must go to’ if you live in or around Leeds this summer. This was my first time at the food festival and it should be a prioritised day out for family, friends – and even your dogs!
Chow Down is set up on the outskirts of town and in the coolest spot ever. I honestly felt like I wasn’t in Leeds. The whole aesthetic of the event and location is total Berlin, East London vibes; and the blazing sun shining throughout the day and the most chill music playing during my time there by one of the DJs was just perfect for me.
The measures put in place were heavily throughout to provide for all conditions and corona. There’s plenty of sheltered seating and every table is spaced out safely. They even have a snack and water area for dogs. Honestly, they thought of everything.
I was asked to try something new on Friday and agreed to be filmed eating. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned in my other reviews but I’m not exactly an delicate eater. I think I’m still wired up like a Viking. Messy, savage and a little scary; that’s how I would describe myself in front of food.
I was greeted with a green slushy with vodka on arrival, as the organisers thought to try me presenting the event and interviewing some of the guests and staff there. I’m terribly awkward and had not prepared for it so the vodka slush was needed!
I tried the cheeseburger from Slap ‘n’ Pickle first and after a good month of no meat, this was the juiciest cheeseburger ever. Let me tell you the quality of meat did not disappoint. The bun was bouncy and the cheese was exactly how it usually looks on most advertisements for cheeseburgers. The perfect drip and flavour. I almost forgot I was being filmed eating, but a loud group of starving men started to heckle me whilst I was sampling this food. They kind of put me off and I definitely would have had bigger bites if I was conscious of the things they were shouting and thinking while I ate. Buggers!
An Indian food vendor, Vaso Kitchen, was set up selling loaded fries. As I’m a huge fan of loaded fries it would have been rude not to make room for some. I had the lamb keema fries with paneer on top. Honestly, my mouth is drooling now just remembering them. So many flavours and textures were piled on top of the fries. It was incredibly messy but I think all the best food is. I actually shared these with some of the crew because my eyes are way too big for my belly.
After the job of interviewing people in front of a camera unexpectedly, I fancied a fruit beer for probably the first time in my life. I chose one that was basically 2020s shandy. It tasted nothing like beer and everything like grapefruit without the bitterness – so refreshing and the cure to calm my overwhelmed self. A traumatized Robyn later, I’m still giving you 10 fingers up to go check out Chow Down for yourself. It’s so good.
Chow Down is set up for another 8 weeks and has different vendors swapping throughout. One of the organisers mentioned they switch up the DJS and have various things going on during the school holidays and Bank Holiday. I strongly advise you to get out of your house for this event. It is for everybody – and it’s even a treat for your dog.
All photographs by Erin Cooper-Jones, working with Mark Wheelwright.