What's On

‘Chew The Fat’ – the ideas organisation

By September 12, 2019

Community. Leeds.

Beer borne at the back of the Brudenell Social Club one evening, plans to curate an informal, panel-led discussion event started where the conversation ended: what happens to our bodies – where will consciousness end up – if we fall victim to the effects of spaghettification?


If only a panel of experts had been sitting across from us that night, there to answer our curious questions, fill us in and bring up to date with facts and figures from their industry. We wanted to expand the debate, mull contemporary issues over with friends. We wanted to Chew The Fat.

With a mutual enthusiasm for Kirkstall Three Swords and Adnam’s Mosaic, we (Jake Richards and Tim Knight) met in Cambridge at poetry events and club nights and have been living in Leeds for the last couple of years. Chew The Fat is a mix of perfect podcast guest, local street food and DJs from around the city. Whip all that into the event space at Sheaf St., with all profits split and donated between Leeds Food Banks, and what you get is Leeds’ only all talking, all cooking, all dancing safe space, where there’s no such thing as a silly question.

The format is simple:

1) Set a topic—past events have included ‘The Perception of Time in the Digital Age’ and ‘Music & Memory’.

2) Invite three specialists to present a 10 minute pitch from their professional angle to an engaged audience – sometimes play the viola/explain the nature of time.

3) Short break – one drink, one smoke – and submit a question to the panel.

4) Join back together and discuss for an hour.

Inspiration for this kind of event came from the plethora of Festival of Ideas scattered around the UK, most notably Cambridge, York and Bristol. These programs of speakers encourage audiences to engage in cultural conversation. From politics to the environment via discourses in social sciences, debates and workshops to art exhibitions, cities open their doors to a variety of venues and invite all ages to participate in discussion.

Chew The Fat does not touch on political discussion—a lesson gleaned from the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society – there’s enough of that noise around. We’re an ideas organisation. We want to give specialists and practitioners a stage and a spotlight to promote their area of expertise, to use this format and our audience to test ideas, push research, ask new questions: Docendo discimus, ‘by teaching, we learn’ (thanks Seneca—thanks Google).

September 20th will see Chew The Fat host an end of summer mini beer festival. They’ve invited Christian Townsley (co-owner, North Brewing Co.), Alessandra Confessore (head brewer, Ilkley Brewery) and Peter Brears (food writer and historian) to talk about Leeds’ place in the craft beer resurgence and Yorkshire’s historical contribution to brewing. Also, Crooked Brewery (Leeds) and Darkland Brewery (Halifax) will be pouring pints all night in the Yarden. Every advanced ticket purchase comes with a free beer token and will guarantee you a seat on the night.

We’ve also been lucky enough to catch Jamaican street food outlet Soul Shack before he jets off the Caribbean. You’ll be able to order real jerk fire-cooked Jamaican cuisine all night, along with fresh Neapolitan pizza from Leeds-based Itza. Jams and grooves will be provided by Luna, Aletha (Puddles) and Andy Buchan all evening.

The Leeds Local Family and History Library will be displaying beer and brewing ephemera, bringing to life their rare and rarely seen archived material. They will also be down at our next two planned events, ‘In Style or Out of Fashion’ (24th Oct) and ‘Artificial Realities & Virtual Intelligence’ (28th Nov).

You can buy advanced Beer Festival tickets here for £10/£7 inc. 1 beer token. All profits split and donated to Leeds Food Banks