Leeds Welcome | Dinner with a difference at Emmaus and Leeds Indie Food Fest

Dinner with a difference at Emmaus and Leeds Indie Food Fest

Words by Lauren Entwistle

Homelessness charity Emmaus Leeds will be providing a dinner party with a real difference as part of this years’ Leeds Indie Food Festival on the 21st May 2017.

This is the first time that Emmaus, a charity that supports people trapped in poverty and homelessness through working schemes, will be part of the festival – serving a three-course meal that has been entirely upcycled. But food isn’t the only thing up for thought, with furniture and emerging artists also being spotlighted throughout the event.

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Emmaus Leeds Cafe

Joanne Stafford, who is the Projects and Events Manager at Emmaus, says that their upcycling theme isn’t actually a far cry from what the charity does on a regular basis.

“A lot of residents in Leeds know us as a furniture shop, but a very small percentage know the full extent of what we do. We are an international homeless movement giving people a different way of life and a means of helping themselves by helping others.” Says Joanne.

“Emmaus is not about handouts, we encourage our companions (residents) to do as much as possible to give back to the local community and environment, and build up their work skills and confidence so that they can start to rebuild their lives and gain independence. These companions contribute 40 hours a week to recycling, repurposing and selling our donations as well as feeding, cleaning and maintaining our communities.”

Joanne visited an event during last years Indie Food Fest and thought that Emmaus would be a great addition to the itinerary, and also a brilliant way to highlight what the charity does. She contact Matt Dix, one of the organisers of the Fest, who further encouraged her to apply – and now Emmaus’ Upcycled Dinner will be held on Sunday 21st of May at their café on St Mary’s Street.

‘Upcycle’ is also about collaboration. Cat & Kate from Seagulls Reuse are going to be upcycling furniture throughout the event, alongside Scrap who are a creative reuse centre based in Farsley.

The event is not just for interior designers as budding fashionistas will not be disappointed either. Artist Rachel Rea will be creating some amazing fashion designs from clothes she found in the charity’s rag bin, which will be displayed at the event along with her other work made from upcycled items.

Emmaus is also partnering with top baker Helen Russell Brown, who runs a freelance cake business and provides her amazing bakes to Outlaws Yacht Club and Fettle. She has helped to plan the event, create the menu and is contributing to the design of upcycled items which will be on display.

“The event will be a showcase of amazing handmade objects, an opportunity to network and meet some amazing creative people and eat delicious food which is technically classed as supermarket waste but has been lovingly prepared to make up a three course banquet… including a brilliant pay-as-you-feel mocktail bar.” Says Joanna.


Leeds Food Fest will be held in various locations around the city from the 11th – 28th of May, with Emmaus’ Upcycled Dinner taking place on Sunday 21st May at St Mary’s Café. To book tickets go to:

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