Sustainable food and drink: an immersive tasting and learning event

On December 7th, SHUFood and NCEFE (the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering) joined forces to host ‘Sustainable Food and Drink: An Immersive Tasting and Learning Event.’ The event welcomed 40 guests to a three-hour event that included a sustainable food quiz, canapés made from surplus food, and a tutored tasting featuring sustainable wine and whiskey. Aimed at the general public, the activities were designed to help people think differently about sustainable food and drink, and to showcase our diverse SHUFood food-focused research at Sheffield Hallam University.

The event was part of our commitment to ShefFood’s Local Food Action Plan for Sheffield, building an ‘inclusive food movement’ through public-facing events on the theme of healthy and sustainable food.

We started the evening capturing people’s responses to the prompt ‘what does sustainable food and drink mean to you?’ Answers included being mindful; seasonal; local (and local bees!); egalitarian; creative with fewer ingredients; good food for a good future; smart packaging; and being part of my food system. The full set of responses is captured in this padlet, allowing others to share their comments and likes to continue the conversation; you can also take a video tour of the responses.

A few highlights of the evening:

The drinks! Guests were welcomed with mulled, spiced apple juice and two kombuchas (alongside activities highlighting SHUFood research and the brilliant work of Sheffield Hallam’s Design Futures Packaging to make food packaging more sustainable). Accompanying activities in the fantastic Hallam test kitchen, guests then sampled wines carefully selected by our event beverage guru, John Dunning, for their sustainability credentials. This included Yorkshire wines from Laurel Vines Vineyard (kindly donated by Ian Sargent, chairman of WineGB Midlands and North). The final phase of the event featured a tutored tasting of two sustainable wines, supplied by local wine merchant Starmore Boss, and a whiskey from Derbyshire’s White Peak Distillery. Tastings were enhanced by fascinating stories of provenance, production process and passion from Jeff Boss of Starmore Boss, and White Peak Distillery Manager Dave Symes.

Photos: SHUFoodie Ewen Crilley pouring in the test kitchen; Dave Symes of White Peak Distillery and John Dunning (SHUFoodie extraordinaire and mastermind of the event’s drinks component); Jeff Boss of Starmore Boss; an expectant audience as the tasting got underway.


The food! Oh, the amazing food! Caroline Millman (NCEFE ‘Healthier Lives’ theme lead) set the vision for the event’s food component, with a focus on using surplus food, scrupulously saved from previous weeks’ teaching and sourced from Food Works Sheffield. Everyone was blown away by the results of SHU’s culinary wizards Jason Tompkin and Amy Downing, who took Caroline’s brief and turned it into an array of creative, delicious dishes. Pure genius. Judging by the event’s final feedback board (see below), the sprout station (soup, patties, and slaw!), onion peel powder and banana skin vegan bacon made a lasting impression. Amplifying the impact of the food was the pièce de résistance: a truly challenging sustainability food quiz.

Photos: Amy Downing, Jason Tompkin and crates of ingredients from Food Works; SHU ‘food and nutrition’ student champion Macy Wong and Caroline Millman (mastermind of the event’s food component) deliver the sustainability quiz answers (and the facts behind them); upcycled bananas were transformed into tasty chips and vegan bacon; the full tasting menu; the test kitchen full of happy guests.



We finished the evening with a pledge wall, the brainchild of SHUFoodie Pallavi Singh (see photo below). There were fantastic responses, including pledges to be thoughtful, creative and waste less; to ask more questions; to try more plant based foods; to cook as a house; to read Sheffield’s Local Food Action Plan…and our sprout station, onion powder, and sustainable wine and whiskey clearly made a big impression! The full set of responses is captured in this padlet, allowing others to share their comments and likes to continue the conversation; you can also take a video tour of the responses.

All in all, it was a superb event that gave everyone food for thought. A huge thank you to our keen participant guests, our fabulous ‘Food and Nutrition student champions’ Jed Gauder, Macy Wong, Iman Batrisyia, and Kayleigh Cope, and to everyone who supported the event with their energy, time, creativity, donations, and stories.

Wishing you a restorative holiday, and a tasty and sustainable new year!


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