Fanfare Project: Eats shoots and leaves, our plant-based pop-up

I got together with Mikk Murray and Carolyn Collins from the Fanfare pop-up (every Friday, 11.30-14:00) at Union St to get the lowdown on the food they create.

These guys are popular, I watched a busy lunch service play out, with a steady flow of customers from regular Fanfare enthusiasts to newbies. There was plenty of friendly chatter from exchanging fitness endeavours, tips on how to make vegan cheese to the benefits of garlic tea!

Their menu changes every few weeks and you can expect ‘mouth-watering tacos, fresh crunchy salads and flavourful fluffy rice’. On this occasion the menu included: smokey baba ganoush, spiralized courgette in a herb dressing,  toppings of roasted nuts and chopped chilli, together with cacao chilli beans with red slaw and shredded spinach.

Tell us more about the Fanfare project?

(Mikk) Fanfare is run as a workers’ co-operative and was founded by Ben last September. He enjoys cooking and wanted to explore a plant-based food project, we each responded and came together.

So there’s me, Carolyn, Ben and Rheanna. We are linked by the vegan scene in Sheffield and are all really enthusiastic about promoting exciting plant-based food to show that vegan food is amazing.

Fanfare project

We all do other stuff as well, so this is a way to work together and make delicious food.  

I’m an artist and keen runner, I’ve been living a vegan lifestyle for 6½ years and I’m really interested in the health benefits due my active lifestyle.

(Carolyn) I love to cook and I’ve been cooking vegan food for 25 years as my husband is vegan and his parents were vegan in the 1950s. I have 3 teenage sons and they are vegetarian, although mostly eat vegan.

Today vegan is a bit more mainstream and there are plenty of places to get good ingredients – Zeds, The Incredible Nutshell, Beanies, Down to Earth and even in the supermarkets are going for it.

Pure on Raw make beautiful food and Make no Bones do inventive vegan food.

What makes you passionate about food?

[Carolyn] I love feeding people. I like to get organised, do what I love and what others can enjoy. I like hearing what people have enjoyed eating, getting feedback is great.

[Mikk] I love eating! I run ultra marathons and eat a lot as I do so much training. I like food to be tasty, easy to prepare and look good,  With vegan food I can eat well, have interesting food and keep healthy. There are lots of vegan athletes out there!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

[Carolyn] As we work as a cooperative, we all share ideas.  Rheanna has travelled lots and brings all sorts of ideas from Indian cuisine to Nepalese.

We discuss things a lot, work everything out and see what our customers think.

I have lots of cookery books, Leah Leneman has done a few vegan ones and the Minimalist Baker blog is really good for ideas.

When I host a dinner party I ask friends what style of food they’d like as a starting point and do research to get right combination for a nice feast.

[Mikk] I follow lots of different stuff on Twitter, I get loads of idea for recipes and follow lots of ideas, ending up with about 12 tabs open!  

What is the most unusual ingredient you’ve used?

[Mikk] Probably jackfruit, it is really popular at the minute and I enjoy cooking with it..  

[Carolyn] It is natural and it has a texture like pulled pork. We do it in a smoky bbq sauce together with guacamole.

There’s seitan too, which is sometimes called mock duck. It’s versatile, you can add flavour to it and use it to make things like burgers.

What can we look forward to from Fanfare?

[Mikk] In August we are celebrating ‘rawgust’.  Alongside our usual offer we will have a limited edition raw vegan dish every week, maybe some recipes too. I am challenging myself to go raw for the whole of August, plenty of fruit, salad and I’ll be swapping a burger for a smoothie!

We are planning a vegan meetup in September, it will be a pop up restaurant, so an evening Fanfare offering a bit extra with tacos and snacks.  

What do you love about being involved in Union St?

[Carolyn] The people who work here are great and it is in a great spot in town. There is a buzz, a real variety of people and it’s a very welcoming space.

[Mikk] I like that it has a workers cooperative upstairs and they are working towards being as ethical as positive – it fits in with our ethos.

And the food…

I thoroughly enjoyed the tacos I got to try and it is clear that Fanfare is about the producing delicious homemade  food. Each one was packed with flavour and I loved the combination of textures and vibrant colours. Very photogenic too for sharing on Instagram! Yes, I did do this.

I also got to enjoy a slice of raw Bakewell tart which was made with homemade jam from Carolyn’s allotment. Chia seeds were used in the jam and the base was made with nuts and coconut cream. Yum.

There is so much to be discovered and explored with plant-based food, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or looking to eat more healthily. It is exciting, I’d encourage you to give it a try

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