What makes great urban food and drink culture?

Words by Jo Murricane& Nick Copland

Welcome to the world of creative collaboration

You’d think that a thriving urban marketplace would be dog-eat-dog, with highly competitive businesses elbowing their way to the front, focussing on their bottom line, their growth, their success. But recently whilst working on Cornucopia Underground – a food event in Leeds, UK – our experiences have shown us that this is really not the case. To create the kind of excitement and engagement we find here in our home city takes something more symbiotic –what we have called creative culinary collaboration.

Given the opportunity of taking over a space –in this instance an alcove in the basement of the iconic Leeds Corn Exchange –members of the Leeds Food and Drink Association immediately and spontaneously looked to each other for help, advice, skills and supplies. In doing so they have created not just clones of what they offer on any other day of the year, but something unique. Something special.

Of course, it turns out that this is actually business as usual here in Leeds. The city’s food and drink industry works together well, helping each other out and collaborating at the drop of a hat. They lend a case of vodka here, borrow some ice there, suppliers go out of their way to deliver, and chefs delight in finding and supporting local food.

So normal is it for them to collaborate and work like this, that they can easily forget just how great it is. Do other places do this? Is Leeds special? Is this symbiosis a symptom of the passion for making the city famous for food and drink together, or one of the reasons the city seems to attract and generate such energetic and effervescent food and drink culture?

Either way, working with so many different businesses on events like Cornucopia Underground is made more of a joy and less of a negotiation, when people actively collaborate, and we hope this creative culinary collaboration shines through…

Cornucopia Underground is at Leeds Corn Exchange on 20th September 2014–Free during the day and ticketed in the evening with performances from Tom Hingley (former Inspiral Carpets lead singer) and La Belle Burlesque.


How do food and drink businesses work together where you live? We’d love to hear about how independents collaborate in your town or city – to share your story contact us here.

What makes great urban food and drink culture? was created by Food&_ community members: